There are many things in this world that are valuable…family, health, career, and to us medal addicts – finisher medals and race experiences; however, it can be argued that the most valuable thing you’ll ever have in this world is your TIME.

Visiting Cuyahoga Valley National Park following a BoneFrog event.

If you’re like me, your calendar is overbooked with weddings, work functions, races and family travels – it fills my life with so much excitement, but to be honest, it also makes my head spin sometimes! I am a self-proclaimed medal addict, as well as a travel enthusiast; that said, when planning my weekend happenings, it can often be difficult to choose between my desired travels and races. So if time is our most valuable resource, the solution is simple…choose both and take a racecation!

The racecation is a great planning method when trying to fit in as many races/trips as possible into your schedule. It’s also especially handy if you are a racer at heart, but perhaps your significant other or family members are not because the racecation allows you to compromise and share that precious weekend time.

So how does one go about planning the perfect racecation?

  • Give your trip a second purpose – The whole premise of a racecation is to set aside time to visit loved ones, see the sights, and enjoy local grub and pleasantries – while also fulfilling your medal addict desires. So while the race itself is one purpose to travel, assign a secondary motivation. This could be seeing an iconic sight/attraction or a family member, friend, or long lost college roommate.
  • Decide whether you will plan by race first or by destination first.

    My husband, Austin Abbott, and I in the emergency room waiting area – muddy shoes, timing chips and all – kudos to him for keeping good spirits through it all.

    • Race first: Select a specific event you want to compete in. By doing this first, you have your date and location set. From there you can begin researching the surrounding attractions. I love using tripadvisor.com and the Roadtrippers app when planing this way.
    • Location first: If your motivation to travel is person or attraction based, i.e. you’re visiting someone along the way, you want to choose your location first and then search for races in that area. The OCR Buddy app and runningintheusa.com are my favorite resources for race searching.
  • Plan the majority of your vacation time BEFORE the race – This is your insurance policy for sore muscles, blistered hands, or in the worst case scenario, serious injury. I give this tip with sincere conviction and bring it from personal experience. Many times have I ran a race and been left unable to lift my arms to put my hair up the next day, let alone to go horseback riding, waterfall chasing, or any other vacation activity. On a more drastic note, a personal story: In 2016 my husband and I traveled 10 hours by car to Asheville, NC for a race. We had planned to camp, race, and spend a few days post-race enjoying the sights and hiking; however, 2 miles into the race, a slick fall put my husband in the emergency room and left us driving home immediately after. Consequently, we did not get to experience the vacation portion of the racecation. Planning lesson learned.

    Celebratory pizza following the 2017 OCR World Championship 15k race at Firehall Pizza in The Blue Mountain Village.

  • Set aside a little time after the race to indulge if food and drinks are a vacation draw for you, but you do not want to disrupt your pre-race nutrition plan.  For me, pizza has become a post-race guilty pleasure and so I am always sure to set aside time to venture and find a local pizzeria on each and every trip. But again, I strongly suggest that the majority of your trip take place prior to the race itself.
  • Slow down. As with any vacation, don’t crowd every minute with an activity/plan; leave time open for relaxation and spontaneity. This will ward off burnout and overdoing it prior to the race, and leave room for recovery following the race.

The takeaway here, is that a good racecation isn’t ALL about the race…it’s also about detours, selfies and chasing waterfalls.

So next time you are at a crossroads between choosing a vacation or a race, I hope these tips will help you decide to DO BOTH!

Have questions or comments about successful or failed racecations? Feel free to share in the comments below.

Happy Racing and Safe Travels!

Exploring in the Rive Arts District in Asheville, North Carolina, before running a Spartan Race.

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