marathon training

Going on holiday? Pack those running shoes!

It’s officially 10 weeks until my marathon, mid-March and snowing non-stop. Yesterday I made a new plan to keep me going over the next couple of months so everything is still going to be A-OK! Those 16, 18 and 22 mile runs are going to happen as long as that snow stops and spring finally arrives (pleeeease hurry up)!

I’ve had an exciting couple of weeks as I actually managed to escape the first bit of snow the UK received and head to California. I attended a conference in Palm Springs for a week, which was amazing. The weather was beautiful, I faced some fears by taking the tramway up 8,000 ft into the mountains and made new friends. Unfortunately the most I ran was about 10 minutes on a treadmill follow by a bit of weight training where every bone in my body cracked – sitting on a plane for about 15 hours is not good for you.

After the conference I flew up to San Francisco for a few days holiday. San Francisco is a fantastic city! I was staying in the financial district, which was easy to get to via BART from the airport and I was a short walk from most popular tourist areas such as Embarcadero and Union Square.

I had so much to pack in to a few days – I had a 4.5 hour behind the scenes tour of Alcatraz which was really interesting, I rode on the cable cars up the infamous hills and took in the sights of the touristy Pier 39. There is so much I missed out on despite all of this so definitely need to go back! On top of all of that I did manage to get out running….

Windmill 10K, Golden Gate Park

 I did a bit of research before travelling and found out that there was a 10K race in Golden Gate Park on my first morning in SF. This was hosted by DSE Runners (, one of the oldest running clubs in SF, who seem to host events every week – what a cool club! As I hadn’t really ran for a week or so before this I found it tough on my stiff legs but I enjoyed the atmosphere of being a new place and had a lot of encouragement from the women I met – huge thanks to Rachel, Carol, Denise & Paula (I hope I got those right!) for making me feel so welcome. I managed to finish in about 55 minutes and got a lovely rainbow coloured ribbon as well as plenty of snacks at the end. I even managed to meet someone else from Northern Ireland so overall I had a fab time!

Running across the Golden Gate Bridge

When I hosted the UK Run Chat hour I remember saying that one of my running dreams is to run across the Golden Gate Bridge so as soon as I knew I would be in SF I got planning this ultimate run! The easiest way for you to know what I got up to is to watch this video….

Again, I met some fab girls on this run who cycled past me and kept me motivated (thanks to Katie x2, Tianna and Mads!) and feel very happy that I have this route on my Strava!

Those two runs in San Francisco were great but I obviously didn’t just leave my hotel room and see where the wind took me…

Here are my top tips for planning a run when on holiday:

1. If you are into races, do some research and see if there is anything happening when you are there. If it’s a big event then the website is likely to have all of the information you need but for smaller events don’t be afraid to email the organisers to say you will be there or ask any questions.

2. For races, make sure you know how to get to the start on time. To save the hassle of public transport in a new city very early on a Sunday morning I got an Uber there and back. The best thing I did when away was to download the maps of both Palm Springs and San Francisco from Google so even when I wasn’t on WiFi I would know where I am and navigate myself back to the hotel.

3. Look up routes before you go. Someone has bound to have ran a similar route before so there will be advice out there. This is also a good safety recommendation as it’s best to run in populated areas (or well known trails) especially if you are by yourself. Of course we all want to explore new areas but just make sure you know where you’re going and how to get back!

4. Think about pre-run fuel. I didn’t have breakfast available in my hotel but popped to Starbucks next door for some granola and banana loaf which was fine for my own run but if you’re racing then definitely check if your hotel does the breakfast you would want to eat or whether you need to pack your own!

5. Bring a running bag or belt with you. I brought my trusty Nathan backpack with me so that I could carry my hotel key card, battery pack to charge my phone, money, a jumper for afterwards, a bottle of water and even a hairbrush so that I could look half decent in my selfies. You don’t want to end up miles away from where you’re staying with 10% battery and nothing to drink.

6. Stop and take photos or videos. You probably won’t be there again any time soon and unless it’s a race you have been training hard for, you don’t need to worry about your time. Enjoy the scenery of your new surroundings.

7. Check the weather! This is probably a good idea before you leave home and on the day of the run. I managed to experience beautiful sunshine, fog and torrential downpour in SF so I wasn’t overly prepared but it meant I could buy a jacket as a souvenir! Sometimes, there isn’t much you can do but at least check if you need shorts or leggings as that can affect the whole run.

8. Have fun! This could possibly be a once in a lifetime opportunity so enjoy yourself, smile at others and reward yourself with some delicious local cuisine afterwards!

Happy running

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