June 14th, 2016
How to Survive Your First Half Marathon as a Couple
Heading out of town for a destination half marathon with your better half? These 7 tips will turn it into a romantic getaway (without affecting your race time, promise!).
Whether it started as a dare or as a mutual pledge of allegiance to fitness, you and your partner have somehow committed to running your first out-of-town half marathon together. You’ve both trained, put plenty of miles on your running shoes, and are at least somewhat ready for this destination race. Even if you don’t plan to set any records, you at least get a weekend getaway out of this random act of athleticism, right?
The trick with a “race-cation” is balancing your vacation activities with what’s best for your run. You don’t want to compromise the training that you both have put in by wandering tourist attractions for hours in flimsy shoes, eating a lot of junk food, or staying out all night, but you also don’t want the only sights that you see to be along the course.
By carefully plotting out your pre- and post-race activities—along with how to not get on each other’s nerves during a stressful, competitive event—you can master your race-cation. These seven tips will help you get fit and have fun.
Enjoy Some Pre-Race Relaxation
Consider this your permission to have a completely relaxing day! Plan your most leisurely activities for the day before the race and save the sightseeing for later. This is your time to hang out by the pool or at the beach (pack plenty of sunscreen in your toiletry bag) and dig into a fun novel. When you do have to be on your feet to pick up your number at the race expo, just make sure that you are wearing comfy athletic shoes. After all, you don't want to accidentally stub a toe and make the race uncomfortable.
Have the Early Bird Special
Sure, a 5:30pm dinner doesn’t scream romance, but having one the night before the race will give you extra time to digest and rest so you'll be ready for an early start the next day. You won’t be the only runners eyeing the local Italian spot for a pre-race carbo-load, so snag a reservation a couple weeks in advance. And hydrate! Yes, this means going easy on the wine (sorry). Save that for your post-race celebration!
Netflix and Chill. No…Really.
Long races tend to start in the wee hours of the morning. A 5:00am wake-up call means that it's best to get in bed as early as possible. Start off the evening with some relaxing entertainment to calm your nerves. Instead of relying on the DVR-less hotel TV, pack a casting device (like a Chromecast or Amazon Fire Stick) in your tech organizer, or bring your laptop or tablet along for a quality Netflix night. Then, in the 30 to 60 minutes before you doze off, shut off all your stimulating electronics and settle in with a good book or turn on some nature sounds or a meditation on your smartphone so you can drift off to sleep more easily.
Roll With the Punches
No matter how much you’ve trained, stuff happens. You or your partner may not hit your target time, may have more aches and pains than expected, or one of you may not finish. Approach this athletic getaway weekend with a positive attitude, and be ready to go easy on yourself and be patient with your partner if the race yields any disappointments. Remember: The fact that you are both out there striving for healthy goals is the important part.
Develop a Finish Line Strategy
You just ran 13.1 miles (a little more than 21 kilometers), you’ve probably been up since 5:00am, you’re sweaty, you’re hungry, and you wish there was a way to eat, shower, and sleep all at the same time. Tracking down your partner or making any logistic decisions at this vulnerable moment is a recipe for the post-race grumpies. Save yourself an unnecessary fight by planning an exact meeting place and time the day before, along with a specific plan for how you will get back to your hotel. Stashing some snacks in your race bag can also curb a post-race bout of hunger.
Make a Celebration Dinner Reservation
Once the race is over, it’s time to party—in a very relaxed, seated fashion, that is. Have a post-race dinner reservation on the books that can inspire you around mile 10 (kilometer 16). If you are looking for an excuse to splurge on dessert, the average half marathon runner burns just shy of 1,500 calories during the race! You can finally drink the wine that you avoided the night before the race. Be mindful, though, that your body is likely still dehydrated, so a little will go a long way. And don't forget to wash it down with several glasses of water.
Extend the Weekend
If you can make it a long weekend, extend the trip post-race. That way, you have the exhausting part out of the way, and can enjoy the rest of your getaway stress-free. Take it easy, though: You just ran a half marathon, so the rest of the long weekend may call for fewer hiking excursions and more couple’s massages.
Have you and your partner run a destination half marathon together? How did you balance your fitness and leisure time? Share your thoughts in the comments, below!
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