Why You Should Plan Runcations: Active Travel At Its Best

When I wrote this post, a little over a week before leaving to China to run the Great Wall Marathon, I was met with mixed reactions from others.  After planning out all the steps for a successful runcation and training with a half marathon training schedule for that trip for almost eleven full months, I was ready to travel all the way to China to basically put my body through torture, over the course of 5,000 steps, in the heat, for thirteen and some odd change miles.  All in the name of an active travel vacation! But that is active travel, and runcations, at their heart. The responses to my enthusiasm for this venture ranged on the spectrum from “you are crazy” to “no thank you”, to “awesome”.  I know this challenging long distance race was not “enjoyable” in the traditional or physical sense, but these are the kinds of active travel trips that I find myself craving more of these days.  Give me a hot, sweaty, crampy, blistering day of running over sitting on a beach all day with a margarita in my hand anytime! If this sounds like how you choose to “unwind”, then you are in the right place.  Here is your guide to why you should plan runcations.


Runcations in Greenland

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Why You Should Plan Active Travel “Runcations”


So why do I choose to “work” when I am supposed to be unwinding, de-stressing, or relaxing?  This is what we are told we should do when we are taking a break away from the daily grind.  I think most runners will understand the theology that going for a run IS a valid way to unwind and relax.  That being said, I will be the first to admit that running is NOT easy for me, nor would I say it is necessarily fun each and every time.  There is a big difference though, between fun and rewarding

Life is not always going to be fun, but it can always be rewarding.  But since running is not easy for me, I had to get creative in finding ways to motivate myself to go on those long runs on a Sunday afternoon, or to push through dripping sweat when the outside temperature starts to push 90 degrees and it is only April in Texas, or to navigate running on pavement that is covered in ice! That is when I discovered that the idea of being able to run in a new place was all the motivation I really needed.  I found a way to mesh my goals with my passion. 

Some of my most recent runcations were my my destination races on the Great Wall in China, and my Polar Circle race over the world’s second largest ice cap in Greenland.  Some of my early runcations included San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge, Dallas, Benbrook, Luckenbach, the world’s second largest ice cap in Greenland, Anaheim, Vancouver, San Antonio, and Spicewood, Texas.  Succeeding at the goals that have been set on these runcations have also extended into a branching out into other active travel goals, such as long distance hiking, backpacking, mountain climbing, kayaking, and cycling. 

I have now hiked to the tallest point in Texas at Guadalupe Mountains National Park, as well as summited the state high points of 19 other states, including Utah’s Kings Peak, Arizona’s Humphrey’s Peak, and New Mexico’s Wheeler Peak.  I purchased my first road cycling bike, taught myself all the tips and tricks of being a road cycling beginner, and began to train to enter some of my first organized road cycling races. 

All of these goals started with a desire to pursue a different kind of vacation.  And that is why I continue to stand behind my belief that active travel is the best kind of travel.  And my favorites are runcations.  I have found that taking on a challenge in a new place is always the most solidifying way I become familiar with a place.  Time and again, just going for a run has led me to feel instantly acquainted with that destination. Exploring with your own two feet.  


Active travel on the Great Wall Marathon
Active travel on the Great Wall Marathon


For me, there is not much that rivals the feeling of setting a goal and accomplishing it, and few feelings that will stick with you longer.  Maybe only the feeling of being able to discover the heart of a new place. So that is what I have tried to do with my running – combine my goals with my passions. I have started to see an increase in the concept of “runcations” being lived out on social media, but for the most part I think we still wince at the idea of taking our vacation days and using them on whatever form of arduous physical task we are trying to overcome. It basically goes against human nature. But as I have centered more of my recreational experiences around goal-setting, I have found that those moments stay with you much longer, and create much more personal growth.


SO, are you Ready to Start Training for your own Destination Race Now?





Why you should plan runcations



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