vacation exercise

Your Next Vacation Might Also Be a Runcation


When most people think of vacation they think of departing from their everyday routine. The rushed breakfast, the mundane commute, and, of course, exercising. However, for others, a vacation that revolves around exercise is a dream come true. That is why runcations have become all the rage in the last few years. A runcation is a trip planned around a specific run or race.

Going for a run during vacation is pretty standard for most of us. It’s a break from the crazy in-laws, an opportunity to explore a new area, or an outlet to burn off last night’s cocktails. But what if running is the vacation — as in, you actually plan a trip around a race, or a running experience. That’s the idea behind “runcations,” a term popularized by bloggers to describe a running vacation.

According to a new Well + Good survey of 4,800 people, 93% of travelers prioritize high-quality fitness offerings when choosing a trip to take and almost 45% look for a place that involves nature. With people working more than ever these days, vacations are expected to be more purposeful than they used to be. The photos you share of the vacation are now currency and making fitness a component of that makes them even more valuable.

Plus revolving your vacation around a race or run gives you a great excuse to indulge in all the local cuisine. Linda McNeil, a writer for Conde Nast Traveler, said the race can be the focal point of the trip, but it isn’t everything. “Pick three to five top things in that city that you want to see or do and make your itinerary before you leave and that way you have a perfect way to spend a great weekend after the race,” she said.

And hotels are getting in on this trend. Westin Hotels & Resorts recently launched runWESTIN, a portfolio of run focused amenities and partnerships that help provide the best accommodations possible for runners who are traveling for a race or training on the go. Westin has a Gear Lending program with New Balance and it also has more than 225 Run Concierges globally, who host group runs for guests specifically designed around scenic routes through cities, beachfronts and rural landscapes. Starwood Hotels also has a similar platform.

Making fitness more accessible for travelers is becoming more and more popular and important (in 2017 U.S. travelers took 438 million domestic business trips and this is expected to reach 478.2 million by 2020, according to Runner’s World.) Workout brands are teaming up with hotels like Peloton and Westin and The W Hotels of New York which have teamed up with The Mile High Running Club, Barre None and Swerve Fitness.

Runcations are a part of this growing trend, as traveling for races and marathons becomes increasingly popular the great majority of runners travel for races as a great way to explore a new destination or a fun incentive to stay active and/or keep themselves motivated in their training.

Get the Gang Together

If you’re racing, knowing you’ll be running with friends will keep you driven during training and during the actual race. You’ll have a buddy for the expo, for meals, and for splitting hotel costs.

Not to mention, two-plus brains are better than one when it comes to getting up on time and locating the start line. Extend the invitation to non-running friends as well.

“Having a familiar face cheering for you in a strange city can really give you an extra boost,” explains. “Plus, it can be incredibly convenient to have someone around to drive you to/from expos and starting/finish lines if necessary, or stash an extra set of clothes and water in their backpack.” Whether your friends are runners or not, you’ll also have people to celebrate with after the race.

Indulge in New Cuisine

And speaking of celebrating, another perk of a runcation is treating yourself to a city’s local cuisine. “In San Francisco after the Nike Women’s Half Marathon, we treated ourselves to a delicious seafood dinner,” Geil says, “and we enjoyed our pasta dinner the night before at one of the city’s most loved Italian restaurants.” If the place you’re visiting is known for a certain type of food, consider eating that as your postrun reward.

Exploring a city on foot is a great way to loosen up after a race, or just discover a new place. “Instead of laying around a hotel room watching TV after a race, take a quick shower and head right back out to explore the city,” Geil says. “It’s the perfect way to preemptively walk out any soreness you might have while seeing the city.”

You’ll likely see areas of town you missed during the run and have the opportunity to do some shopping at local shops and boutiques. Some people pick their travel destinations based on food, others go for the history. But now more than ever, people are taking vacations to run.

It’s called a “runcation,” and as Chris Hilfer explains, it’s when one plans a vacation around a specific run or race.

“What we’re seeing are these runners picking cities that appeal to them and then they book a trip that coincides with a race,” said Hilfer, who is the run concierge for Westin Hotels and Resorts.

For example, those who have always wanted to visit Hawaii might sign up for the Honolulu Marathon as an excuse-of-sorts to go. Philadelphia, New York City and Nashville make for great weekend destinations, and they also happen to host a number of large and small road races.

Hilfer says planning a trip around a run, or scheduling a run on your next trip, is a great way to stay motivated during your training.

“These runners are booking their trips as a way to stay accountable to their health on the road, while also being able to indulge in these cities after they compete in the race. They don’t feel guilty about trying the local food and drinking the local drink after they run 13 or 26 miles,” he said.