Is traveling to another country to run a marathon the same thing as going on a running vacation?
We, the travel experts at Run the World Adventures, think not. As experienced runners who’ve run and raced in foreign countries across the globe, we believe that they are two very different types of travel experiences.
Here are the top seven ways a running vacation is different from a destination marathon.
1. It’s Not All About Race Day
When you travel to another country to run a marathon, your entire trip is focused having an optimal race experience. This may mean getting extra sleep before the race and resting in your hotel room so that your legs feel “fresh” for race day.
A running vacation, on the other hand, is not a one-day deal. You may run every day of your vacation if you want.
Many of the running vacations Run the World Adventures offers can be customized to you (or your group’s) running ability, endurance level and pace so you can feel comfortable and confident in your ability to meet the adventure ahead.
2. Avoid The Crowds
Large marathons typically stick to main highways and byways that are wide enough to accommodate their runner masses. While you may catch glimpses of the city or destination’s most iconic landmarks, the view is fleeting and obscured by what you can see from your vantage point among the running hoards.
On a running vacation, it’s just you, your travel companions and a local guide. Since this is your vacation after all, if there’s some curious building, ancient ruin or striking landmark you want to stop and visit, then all you have to do is say so! The running routes offered by Run the World Adventures won’t be found in any guidebook. They have been custom-designed by running guides who know and run the less-frequented trails, pathways and roads that bypass the tourist-clogged beaten paths and take you to lesser-known, often more spectacular spots.
3. Experience the Local Culture
At a destination marathon, you surround yourself mostly with other international visitors, especially if you’re in a place where English is not the first language. Foreigners naturally gravitate to other foreigners because they’re having a shared experience (albeit from an outsider’s perspective) of a strange land.
However, with a running vacation, you spend the entire adventure in the company of a local, a fellow runner like yourself, but as someone indigenous to the local culture who gives you a unique insight into what it’s like to live in this foreign place.
4. No time restrictions
When running the marathon, you’re focus on maintaining the right pace for achieving your goal finishing time. Any interruptions to your carefully calculated splits is very stressful. What if you need a potty break, have a cramp or take a wrong turn?
With a running vacation, on the other hand, there is no time pressure. The time it takes to get from point A to point B is irrelevant to your enjoyment of the experience.
Instead of worrying about your time, run as a way to go sightseeing, unrestricted by time or detours. And if you do take a wrong turn, well, no problem; that only adds to the adventure!
5. Get Close to Nature
Most destination marathons are held in cities or other built environments that offer limited opportunities to come close to the natural environment. For example, if it’s hot on race day, you may cool off by running through sprinklers set up along the marathon route.
During a running vacation in hot climes, however, you refresh yourself with a dip in the ocean, a lake or glacial stream. If swimming in a natural body of water is something you rarely do back home, then there’s no better excuse to do something out of the ordinary than while you’re on vacation.
6. The feast never ends
At a destination marathon, you’re more careful about what you eat, wary about trying new foods or indulging in too much alcohol prior to race day. It’s only once the marathon is done that you feel relaxed enough and adventurous enough to feast on the local cuisine.
On a running vacation, however, you can dig in to local dishes right from day one. Since eating the local food is an essential aspect to fully experiencing a foreign country, eating like a local is an essential aspect to immersing yourself in this new place.
7. Have Afterglow instead of Aftermath
The post-marathon high soon gives way to the marathon aftermath, marked by aching feet, sore muscles and overall fatigue that may last for days, which puts a damper on the rest of your visit. As a result, many marathoners don’t run at all or very little after race day.
On a running vacation, on the other hand, you’re running day after day, feeling stronger and more excited as each day passes. We call this the running vacation “afterglow.” Since the focus is on enjoying the process and environment, you wake up each morning fired up, curious and motivated about what the day’s adventure will bring.
Run vacationers often bring that afterglow home with them, and are more motivated than ever to make running a regular part of their lives back home.