Training for vacation

7/31/2017  By ThirtyPercenter

July 31, 2017

Each month, we feature a post from an employee contributor on a health topic of their choice.

Amy Diaz, KVH Contributor*

I joke with my family that they should train before they go on vacation with me.  I’m not entirely kidding.

In fact, I think we may have committed a cultural faux pas in 2014 when my then 18-year old stepdaughter chugged a liter of exorbitantly expensive water at a temple in Kyoto, Japan.  Based on the special packaging and the horrified looks of those surrounding us, I think it might have been holy water. 

I’m pretty sure my daughter was on the verge of heat exhaustion, having combined high temperatures, high humidity, and strenuous physical activity.  That temple was not the first we had visited that day.  The fact that it was located at the top of a giant hill also wasn’t unique.  

This is definitely an example of what not to do on vacation.  If you like to stay active, here are my recommendations for what you should do.  And, yes, I’m going to start with training.

Photo: At Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto, Japan.  All is well in the morning hours!

Train for your vacation: If your summer vacations are anything like mine, you want to enjoy the outdoors.  You might like hiking or biking, kayaking or rafting, or any other number of outdoor pursuits.

However, if you’re planning an 18-mile mountain bike ride and you haven’t ridden your bike in three years, you’re going to end up drinking the holy water, too.  It’s best to increase your mileage gradually, leading up to your departure date.  An added benefit is thinking about how amazing your vacation will be while you’re training.  Now you’re enjoying your vacation before you’re even on vacation!

Plan, plan, plan! And the more data, the better: I love data. Any kind of data. I also love planning. has loads of average historical weather data.  You can find graphs of everything from average daily high and low temperatures, wind speed and direction, chance of precipitation, monthly rainfall amounts, cloud cover, humidity, and more.  I think it’s a website that every data nerd should see.

I have used weatherspark to decide the best time of year to vacation in a particular area, or even which area of a state to explore.  Steamboat Springs, Colorado, for example, has about a 20% chance of rain on any given summer day.  This is also true for Colorado Springs for the month of June, but the odds of rain in Colorado Springs increase steadily until early August, when the chance is closer to 40%. 

I’ve been to both places in August, and I have to say the numbers didn’t lie.  There’s a particular bike ride above treeline near Colorado Springs that the locals say can be heaven or hell, depending on the weather.  I definitely didn’t see any angels.  (This ride is now commonly referred to in my household as the “worst bike ride ever” and is used as a comparison tool for all other terrible bike rides.)

Photo: Two days later, at a different ride with the sun shining and the angels definitely singing.

Sorry, back to data. And planning.  Once we’ve decided where we’re going, I frequently use TripAdvisor to get ideas for the top things to do in the area.  I like TripAdvisor because it includes both indoor and outdoor activities. 

We do like to mountain bike on vacation, and I love apps that are available offline like MTB Project or Trailforks.  Once you’ve loaded the maps on your cell phone, you can take off on your route and track yourself with your phone’s GPS capabilities, even when you don’t have access to cellular service.  I’ve used this in an area that was pretty dense with trails to backtrack when I’ve taken a wrong turn.

Take a walk or a run after you arrive to orient yourself to your temporary home: No matter where I stay, I will always ask if there are any areas that I should avoid for safety reasons before I set out.  At a hotel you can ask your concierge.  With Airbnb, you can ask your host.  If you’re camping, you can find a local to help you get the lay of the land.

Once you’ve planned your route around any hot spots that should be avoided, take off, and take care.  But be prepared to shorten your excursion if needed.  That altitude in Colorado is no joke.  My typical daily run became a short, wheezy walk on my first day at 9,000 feet.

Be flexible: Even if you’ve trained, planned, and oriented yourself to your temporary home, you should remain flexible.  Our most recent vacation happened to be to the Central Okanogan area of British Columbia.  I should mention here that the Central Okanogan area of British Columbia was almost entirely on fire. 

On one day of our vacation, we did none of the outdoor activities that we had planned because the air was hazardous to breathe.  Thanks to TripAdvisor, we found some indoor activities that were pretty cool.

I’m also fairly certain that my daughter appreciated this flexibility clause after we visited the beautiful mountain-top temples in Japan.  In the end, we found an amazing ice cream shop that we never would have discovered!

Photo: An unexpected turn led to this amazing ice cream creation.

*Opinions expressed by KVH Contributors are their own. Managed by Kittitas Valley Healthcare, Thirty Percenters does not provide medical advice. For medical advice, please see your healthcare professional.