Training While Traveling

The rain pattered down on my hat brim, each droplet flashing briefly in the light from the streetlamp before smashing into the earth. Dead leaves and old foil food wrappers crunched beneath my running shoes. Occasionally, the headlights from a passing car would blind me before carrying on down the road. It was a dark, cold, evening and there I was, running laps around a Wal-Mart parking lot in Southern New York. “Is this really worth it?”, I thought. Of course whatever the answer, it didn’t really change anything. I had made a commitment and I planned to stick to it. Anyways, I was already wet. What good would it do to stop now?

‘Tis the season for travel, and with all that fun and routine-change training often goes out the window. After almost a year on the road, here are a few tricks I learned to keep you training while enjoying that summer holiday.


An evening training session with one of the greats. Rocky Balboa and I in Philadelphia. Photo by Henna Jylhä

Before You Go

Choose a training-friendly destination. What do real estate and training have in common? They both share the old mantra “location, location, location”. Think about this in both a big-picture and small-picture sense. Big picture would have you favoring national park visits over exploring the urban jungles. Can’t do that? How about focusing on the small picture then. Look for hotels that have a guest gym or an Airbnb located close to a large park or running trail.

Bring the right tools. A set of running/climbing shoes and a pair of shorts can take you far. This is one of those times when less is more. Do your homework as to what options are available to you, and prepare accordingly.


On the Go

Make a daily/weekly plan. This is one of two tips that made the biggest difference in my training. Make a schedule of vacation events and activities that you plan to participate in, and schedule your training time around that. Try to get it on the schedule at least 24 hours in advance so you (and others) can be ready for it. This might require some early morning workouts, but just think of the additional training effect you’ll get.

Consult the locals. Check out the local climbing gym, seek advice from a city running clubs, visit the area’s outdoor store, and search around on the web. These places are normally filled with people eager to help visitors see the best of what their home has to offer.


Those locals often know the best places to train. Deep water soloing at a secret venue on the coast of Hawaii.

Have a long-distance training buddy. One of the biggest motivating factors for me is my training partner. While understandably difficult to always have with you on vacation, you can still stay connected through the wonders of technology. Did you snap a pic of that awesome sunset you saw on your evening run? Send it to your pal. Take gym selfies, be goofy, have fun. Whatever you got to do to keep the motivation going.

Modify existing group/family activities. Going on a casual family hike? Why not take along a few extra gallons of water and turn that walk into some serious training. Going to the pool? How about sneaking over to the lanes and putting in some laps while the others soak in the sun.


Carrying some water uphill on a hike in New Jersey. Photo by Henna Jylhä.

Try to slow down. This was the second big lesson I learned when it comes to training while on vacation. We often want to see and do a great many things while traveling in an effort to make the most of our time. Unfortunately, this “on-the-go” style of travel will wear you out in a hurry. Consider dialing back the itinerary a bit and giving yourself a bit more time to train, relax, and enjoy your surroundings.

Stay Motivated. It is easy to slip too deep into “vacation mode” and let your training routine go by the wayside. Do what you can to keep motivation high. Set a photo of your big objective as your phone background. Text your climbing partners and see what they are climbing. Stay focused on the long-term goal and the joy that it will bring you.


Talk about motivation! Staring down the big objective while working out on the hangboard. Photo by Tess Ferguson.

In the Mountains (special tips for when actually on expeditions)

For my personal training, this is always the crux. Oftentimes there is a long period between leaving home and actually getting on the rock. This is a critical time and one where it is all too easy to falter.

Get out of the tent! Yes, the weather is shitty. Yes, its cold and wet. Yes, you can’t climb and the views are bad. Still, doing nothing is a sure way to let all those previous months of effort slip away. You don’t have to even train seriously, just get out and move your body.

Don’t over-train. On the flip side, when the weather in town is good and conditions in the hills are bad, it’s easy to push too much on those “casual” trail runs. Be sure you will have enough time to fully recover before heading into the mountain. Moving your body, staying healthy, and being well rested are all equal priorities while waiting to take to the hills. Do not to compromise your goal just for the sake of sneaking in one more training session.


Dont worry, Mom. No overtraining here. Just trying to remember how to rock climb while waiting for snow to firm up.

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