Want to know how to make the most of your racecation? Follow this helpful racecation guide and get ready to earn miles by air and by foot.
I’m promoting Brooks’ Nashville Notes, a Runners Guide to Music City as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador) and check out BibRave.com to find and write race reviews!
Whether you’re challenging yourself to a marathon in every state (or continent!) or you just wanted a new locale to log miles and earn bling, planning a racecation can be both exciting and daunting. There’s so much to do, see and eat in a new city, but at the same time, you don’t want to tire or stress yourself out before a big race.
I love a good racecation, but I’ve definitely learned through trial and error what works and what doesn’t. Well fret no more, adventurous runners, this guide will teach you how to make the most of your racecation.
1. What to factor in when choosing your racecation race
First things first, you have to pick your racecation distance! How many miles will allow you to run but still have fun on vacation? I enjoy running half marathons on racecations. It’s a distance that will allow me to see a good chunk of a new city, but I’m not so tired afterwards that I won’t be able to walk around and explore post-race.
You may also want to factor in the time of year. If the race falls on a holiday weekend, travel may be more expensive, and things in the city may be closed. Look at the weather, as well. You can find the average weather for your destination simply by Googling “Average weather in insert city in insert month/weekend.” Will it be a lot hotter or colder than you are used to running? That may impact your training and goals.
2. Make your travel plans
Once you’ve settled on a race and destination, figure out when and how you are going to get to and from your destination. If the race doesn’t provide day-of packet pickup (most big ones do not), I suggest arrived the day before the race in the morning. That way you have ample time to go to the expo. You could arrive a few days before to allow yourself time to explore, but you face tiring out both mentally and physically before the race. Instead, give yourself time after the race to explore. You’ll already have all the miles under your belt, so you won’t have to worry. Plus, you’ll be able to eat all the things afterwards!
For example, if the race is on a Sunday morning, arrive Saturday morning and stay until Tuesday morning. Flights will likely be less expensive if you fly Saturday-Tuesday. Plus, tourist attractions will likely be less crowded on Monday.
3. Figure out where to stay
Most big races offer discounts through a hotel partnership. Book early to take advantage! Alternatively, you can do what I like to do and book yourself an Air BnB close to starting line.
I like and Air BNB for a few reasons 1) it makes me feel more like a local and 2) I’ll have a kitchen to make myself a pre-race dinner and breakfast. They also tend to have more flexibility with check in and check out times.
Whether you opt for a hotel or an Air BnB, find something close to the race. Being walking distance will allow you more time to sleep in the morning, will make it easier and less stressful to get to the start of the race and will allow any spectators you’re with to sleep in a bit before coming to cheer you on. Plus, you won’t have to deal with race day traffic.
4. Create a flexible racecation itinerary
Now that you know what race you’re doing, how long you’ll be in your racecation city and where you’re staying, it’s time to create a flexible itinerary. I say flexible because 1) you never know what the weather will be like and 2) you may not know how you’ll feel after the race. If you have a nice list of things to do and places to eat, you’ll easily be able to adjust your plan based on things like unexpected weather or food cravings after the race (though I do suggest making reservations for important meals, such as post-race brunch).
The best way to find things to do is ask locals or anyone who has run the race in the past. That’s how Brooks put together Nashville Notes, a Runner’s Guide to Music City for the Rock’n’Roll Nashville race series. This guide is exactly what every runner needs for planning a racecation. It’s the perfect tool to help runners get the most out of their race weekend. Here are just a few of the things the guide has that every racecation itinerary should contain:
- Shake out and recovery running routes
- Top attractions
- Places to have a pre-race dinner
- Instagram worthy spots
- Local running stores (in case you need anything or if they’re putting on fun race-weekend events)
- Places to have a post-race brunch and coffee
- Places to have a post-race beer (because you earned it)
- Local bakeries/spots for dessert (because again, you earned it)
The best part about this guide is that it was curated by locals and runners, so you know it’s got everything you’ll need for your racecation (honestly, you should just book your racecation in Nashville because your itinerary is already set!).
Create a list of all the things you’d like to do and roughly when you’d like to do them. Make reservations or get tickets for anything you can ahead of time (one less thing to stress about), but allow other plans to be flexible based on how people (and your feet) are feeling.
5. Decide on your goals
Now that you have your travel plans set, it’s time to focus on your goals for the race. I tend to run most racecation races for fun vs. pushing for a PR because I want to have energy after the race to explore. However, if your racecation destination is on a flat course and will likely have nice weather, it may be your chance to score a shiny new PR. Think about what you’d like to get out of your race, and no matter what your goals are, have fun and enjoy the adventure!
Have you ever been on a racecation? What tips would you add?