By: Jenny Wolfrom
The village closes, the rain comes, and a large portion of Jackson’s fittest population flocks to the beaches of Mexico, Central America, and Thailand. This year my off-season adventure of choice was two weeks in Nicaragua. While I was excited to get away and relax, internally I was having a severe panic attack about the negative effects that my vacation was going to have on my overall strength and endurance. I also try to maintain a paleo diet, so heading towards the land of rice and beans was somewhat terrifying to me.
My vacation fell in the middle of Wright Training’s bike fitness program and I had been trail running 6-10 miles 4 times a week in anticipation of some upcoming summer races. I didn’t want my hard work to be nullified by my time at the beach. I also didn’t want exercise to be the focus of my vacation. I needed to find a balance between allowing myself to relax, exercising enough so that I wasn’t stressed out about it, and making sure I experienced and enjoyed the local fare without making myself ill.
I took Jason Fitzgerald’s advice from his post on StrengthRunning.com – “How to Maintain Your Fitness While Traveling” and created a goal for my vacation to give myself some guidelines and relieve some stress going into it. My main goal was to relax and enjoy the company of the friends I was traveling with; second, I wanted to learn to surf; third, I wanted to try to run 3 miles every other day followed by a quick body-weight strength circuit; and last, I didn’t want to be crippled by making poor food choices. I’m happy to report that I adhered fairly well to most of these goals. These are a few guidelines that I followed that helped me stay on track:
1) Workout in the morning- Following another of Jason’s suggestions from “How to Maintain Your Fitness While Traveling“, I worked out in the morning before I could get distracted by other activities (and beach cocktails). I was lucky to be traveling or staying with people who were also fitness-minded and it became fairly routine for us to go for a 3-4 mile beach run in the morning before breakfast. I’d say I ended up running 9 out of the 12 days we were in Nicaragua. On my first trail run back in Jackson I felt as good as when I had left (aside from the inevitable lung burn that occurs when returning to elevation after two weeks at sea-level).
2) Use your body- Following my runs I would find a place on the beach or at the pool where I could do core and strength circuits using my body weight. I created a few “mini workouts” that targeted my main muscle groups and that I knew would help keep my body in maintenance mode so that I wouldn’t be crushed at the gym when I got back. Here are a couple of the workouts I did after my beach run: