WASHINGTON — Some people pick their travel destinations based on food, others go for the history. But now more than ever, people are taking vacations to run.
It’s called a “runcation,” and as Chris Heuisler explains, it’s when one plans a vacation around a specific run or race.
“What we’re seeing are these runners picking cities that appeal to them and then they book a trip that coincides with a race,” said Heuisler, who is the run concierge for Westin Hotels and Resorts.
For exmaple, those who have always wanted to visit Hawaii might sign up for the Honolulu Marathon as an excuse-of-sorts to go. Philadelphia, New York City and Nashville make for great weekend destinations, and they also happen to host a number of large and small road races.
Heuisler says planning a trip around a run, or scheduling a run on your next trip, is a great way to stay motivated during your training.
“These runners are booking their trips as a way to stay accountable to their health on the road, while also being able to indulge in these cities after they compete in the race. They don’t feel guilty about trying the local food and drinking the local drink after they run 13 or 26 miles,” he said.
The Starwood hotel chain picked up on the trend and hired Heuisler in 2013 to help guests with everything from finding the best local running routes to navigating race expos and start lines. Heuisler even lends out running shoes in case they are forgotten or lost with luggage.
Jordi Lippe-McGraw, a contributor at Condé Nast Traveler, says if you’re planning a runcation, race registration and details are important — but once you have that set, think beyond the finish line.
“Pick three to five top things in that city that you want to see or do and make your itinerary before you leave and that way you have a perfect way to spend a great weekend after the race,” she said.
Packing for a runcation is different than packing for a typical vacation. For starters, you need to think about your gear.
“Do your homework and see what the weather’s going to be like. I personally like to pack a shirt that I don’t need anymore and I’ll wear it over top of my race top and I’ll ditch it when the race starts,” Heuisler said, adding that charity organizations usually come by after the end of a race and pick up leftover clothing for donations.
Throwing a foam roller into your carry-on will help keep your muscles loose on a long plane ride and a water bottle will keep you from becoming dehydrated.
“You cannot hydrate enough when you’re traveling,” Heuisler said.
Pack it empty to the airport and fill it up once you clear security.
Even if you’re not the one running, Lippe-McGraw says you’ll want to pack a pair of good shoes so you can comfortably cheer for your runner and then explore the city.
“Really take advantage of these runcations. Pick a destination that you always wanted to go to and see if there’s a race there,” Lippe-McGraw said.
“It’s a great way to combine the love of being active with the love of vacation.”