Running a marathon can be difficult enough without taking into consideration what to do when you are traveling. You can’t just put your marathon training while traveling on hold, so how can you keep yourself on track through long travel days, with unfamiliar foods and strange hotel noises?

Marathon training while traveling pays off - at the start

Months of marathon training pays off; at the start of the NYC marathon. Photo: Judy Antell / Vegetarian TravelingMom

Training for a marathon? Good for you! As someone who loves to travel, and to run, I guarantee that you can do both and neither will suffer. These tips can help with your marathon training while traveling.

9 Tips for Marathon Training While Traveling

1. Carry on your running gear

Most runners have a favorite pair of shoes – and shorts, shirt, socks, running bra…and if your luggage goes missing, you can’t just grab another pair from the drawer. I’m a big advocate of never checking a bag, but that can be impractical. Just make sure something you must have to run is with you.

2. Prepare for all types of weather

Marathon training while traveling leads to a smiles at the race.

If you are running in shorts at home, you might need tights on a northern trip. And hats, gloves, another shirt. I usually forget one critical piece of outerwear, so I’m running in cashmere gloves or I have to buy a cheap sweatshirt. And bring a laundry bag so all those stinky clothes don’t make your suitcase smell like a locker room.

3. Pack your snacks

If yo like a peanut butter sandwich before a run, bring some sliced bread and peanut butter packets. Goo and nutrition bars are better brought from home, and if you like to have a sport recovery drink, get one in powdered form and bring some in a ziplock bag. Since I find I’m starving hours after a long run, I also bring a bag or two of almonds and dried fruit.

4. Stick to your routine

How you ask? Well, no one said running a marathon was going to be a walk in the park. If you are on vacation, you might have to skip that happy hour by the pool to get a run in, and if you are on a work trip, you might need to lose an hour of sleep. Sorry.

When training for my first marathon last year, I was on a work trip to Alabama, and woke up for an early run. But I only checked the time on my computer, which keeps to its Eastern Standard Time, so I actually ran at 5am, not 6am, as I had thought. Be sure to check your phone, watch, the bedside table clock, before you set off.

5. Ask for a running route

marathon training while traveling; location matters

During marathon training, a hotel amenity could be a nearby running path. Photo: Judy Antell / Vegetarian TravelingMom

Many hotel concierges have a running route and give out small maps that fit in your hand or running belt. Some Ritz Carlton hotels have maps, towels, and chilled water bottles out for morning runs.

6. Find a group run

Westin hotels loan sneakers, shirts, and shorts to guests, but of course you have your own (unless you ignored tip #1). But some Westin hotels, like the Westin Book Cadillac Detroit also have a concierge led group run, usually twice a week at 6:30 am. This may not be enough for a long training run, but it can be a great way to find a three or five-mile route that you can then repeat.

7. Choose your hotel wisely

Carbo loading an easy and fun way to keep up your marathon training while traveling

A Backroads breakfast suits marathon training, with plenty of carbs. Photo: Judy Antell / Vegetarian TravelingMom

You don’t want to stay in a convention center hotel if possible since late night revelers can interfere with that planned early morning run. When I was heavy into my marathon training last October, I chose the Sheraton Midtown in Minneapolis specifically because it was right on the Midtown Greenway, which offered 5.5 miles of flat, car-free running.

8. Consider cross training

Early in your marathon training, you can bike or swim as part of your training program. All Kimpton Hotels have free bicycles that you can borrow, or you can grab a bicycle from a bike share program. Swim laps in the hotel’s pool, ideal if you are recovering from an injury, and take advantage of a hot tub to ease sore muscles.

9. Watch what you eat, but not how much

When we visited my youngest daughter at college, she wanted to eat at an Indian restaurant. But then she realized I might not want to run 22 miles the next day after all that spice (she was right). We had a great carb-heavy Italian meal instead. And while I couldn’t drink any wine with dinner, I didn’t feel guilty about the delicious local beer I quaffed after my run. And we found we could consume quite a few calories, with no noticeable weight gain, on our recent Backroads bike trip as well.

In fact, once bonus of marathon training while traveling is that you can sample more food. Get that appetizer and dessert. Have a second mini lunch. You’ve earned it. 

What are your marathon training tips while traveling? Please share in comments below.