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Blog: On the run - and on the road

Wednesday - 8/1/2012, 4:37am  ET

ontherun
Kathi Aderholt and Paula Wolfson hike along a South Carolina beach. (Courtesy of Peggy Close O'Neil)

Healthy snacking on vacation

WTOP's Paula Wolfson reports.

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Editor's Note: To mark a milestone birthday, WTOP's Paula Wolfson has signed up to run the Marine Corps Marathon. She will be sharing her journey along the way in a series of blog posts.

Paula Wolfson, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - Into every exercise routine must come...vacation!

So how do you stay on track when your week at the beach falls in the middle of, say, training for your first marathon?

It's not as tough as it may seem.

"Vacation is the perfect time to be innovative," says my fellow runner, nutrition and wellness expert Elise Museles. She also says it doesn't hurt to have a plan before you travel.

For me, the destination was the coastal community of DeBordieu, S.C. and a reunion with four gal pals from high school (yes, we have known each other that long).

The first thing I did was check with my hostess about nearby running trails. And then I decided to, shall we say, take a different route. I took advantage of my surroundings and hiked the beach for miles daily with my friend Kathi.

Elise says I did the right thing.

"I think there is a balance there. You are still moving but not going on those super long runs," she says.

"You were probably even stronger than when you left because you were refreshed and rejuvenated, and sometimes a break from the routine will actually help you go back to the routine with a stronger mindset," she said when I returned.

And I did not go back to my regularly scheduled program 1 ounce heavier, despite regular restaurant meals with the gang.

The same thing happened last year when we cashed in the frequent flyer miles and took a family trip to Rome. Ah, you say, "Pasta! Gelato! Extra inches on the hips!"

Yes and no. We ate our gelato on the Spanish steps and became regulars at a trattoria near our hotel with a killer risotto. We also walked everywhere. And thanks to my 6-foot-tall husband and his long legs, we moved at a fast pace.

Elise says walking is a great way to stay in shape on vacation. She says check with the locals about the best routes and see the sights at your own pace (literally). She notes an early morning walk will let you do some window shopping without doing any damage.

She also suggests doing some research online before you travel.

"Some cities even have bike tours, you can go and see things by bike," she recommends.

Elise says her favorite way to exercise on the road is to walk or run before the tourists are out. She suggests traveling with a basic piece of exercise equipment: a jump rope to get in a quick ten minutes of cardio.

No jump rope for me on the Rome trip, just a lot of time on my feet. And the upshot? I came back 3 pounds lighter (and with an Italian bag -- so much for Elise's window shopping theory).

More importantly, two weeks later, I clocked my best time ever in a half-marathon. Go figure.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)