Running, writing

Running and Writing on Vacation

Onto another post about vacations! If you aren’t interested in vacation material you might want to check back next week. Or you could just save this post for when you take a break this summer.

Anyway, I’m a runner and I’m a writer which means I’m a little neurotic and a little obsessed. Not too surprising I’m sure.

I don’t like missing miles. I don’t like missing writing days. I don’t like feeling as if I’m neglecting my body, my passion, my job, and my life. The problem comes when I’m going on vacation to relax, take a break, and I’m still thinking about never missing a run or a writing day.

Now, I’ve lumped these two topics in together because they share some spooky similarities. For instance, runners and writers are both crazy. I’m kidding (kind of) but the solution to running on vacation and writing on vacation is the same:

Remember that you do this for fun too.

Right? That is how your writing or running started. Even if you claim you didn’t like it, there was something about it that kept you showing up. You liked it. You liked it enough to become committed to it, dedicated to improving, passionate about hitting the road or greeting empty pages.

You don’t keep doing this because you hate it.

To me, remembering that you do like what you’re doing, running or writing, is at the core of finding a way to run or write on vacation.

Photo by Vikas Sawant on

So how do you run on vacation?

Do it for fun!

Find some less traveled road. Some new path you’ve of course never seen. Maybe run a little slower. Don’t set out to train but instead lace up your shoes and set out to adventure. That’s one of the biggest mental benefits of running. Not planning a route and instead adventuring until you magically find your way home again keeps your brain young!

It’s not only that. Going for a run in a place you’ve never been when there isn’t the pressure of getting a PR or just going fast, doing well, blah blah feels exhilarating. It’s exciting to take in the air of a new place. The scenery is something you don’t see on a daily basis. The pavement or trail isn’t the stuff you run on every day.

To enjoy it, do plan some runs. You can even run every day if it feels good and sounds fun. Maybe knock down the mileage and intensity. Work on absorbing all the sights, sounds, and feelings the place has to offer.

And one final tip about running on your vacation: let yourself stop.

I practically trained myself to stop and appreciating a sight in front of me. I kept thinking that I was messing up my time, ruining my ability, etc. All I was doing was robbing myself of a memory.

Especially on a vacation, stop. Pause your watch and take in the sights. Touch the soil. Look at the sky. Breathe in the air. Just a take a second to commit the moment to memory. Absorb everything around you and let a big smile cover your face.

Photo by James Lee on

This picture might not scream “writing” to you, but it does to me. I’m from Chicago so I know all about thunderstorms, ice storms, snow storms, and insane flips in weather. I also know a lot about humidity. Cacti? Whatever the other plants there are? Palm trees? Mountains? Dry air? I don’t know what that is.

I’ve briefly experienced some of those things. But I don’t know them. I didn’t take the time to experience them well and learn.

Every adventure, every moment I travel is an experience I have to catalog in my brain. I have to make notes of all the people I see, all the habits and quirks they have. I have to make a note of every smell, every temperature. I have to understand what different dirt feels like. What different plants look like. What the world is in places that aren’t my home.

When you’re traveling, a great way to write is to throw word counts out the window and get a little notebook specifically for jotting down things you’ve encountered, people you’ve met or seen. This is such a great way to remember your trip and remember the things you’ve absorbed.

If you have the time, write some stuff for fun.

Don’t worry about working on a novel, short story, or something that’s been a thorn in your side. Leave that stuff for your work week when you get home. Instead, sit outside in nature and write about your world. Write about a story nature is telling you. Have fun with it! No planning, no pressure. Just fun.

And that’s really it. If you really want to write and run on vacation like me, do it! But take the pressure off yourself. You don’t have to create amazing masterpieces or run the best you ever have.

Remember that this is vacation. You’re here to recharge, relax, maybe even form and solidify connections. Embrace that attitude and have fun while you write. Have fun while you run. You have a whole new corner of the world to explore.

Keep in that in mind as you step out of your car, out of the plan, onto the earth of that place. This is new. Even if you’ve been there before, this is new. This is not your home. This is a different corner of the world with different people that you haven’t met. There are so many things out there to explore, to learn about, to understand. Take advantage of that.

Lace up your shoes and go run. Feel free, feel happy, feel empowered. Go on an adventure and stop to smell the plants. Stop to investigate. Stop to go left instead of right. Get back to the root of running. Travel. Adventure. Your passion for it.

Crack open the page and start scribbling. Try a pen and paper, embrace the origins of writing. Write in nature. Write in the quiet. Write about a world you haven’t seen yet. Write about the stories around you that are unfamiliar, foreign.

Do these things without pressure. Do these things with love. Do these things because you want to, not because you have to.

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