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How to take your run on vacation

Now that we've crossed the Memorial Day line into summer, vacations are coming around the bend. That means sleeping in, going someplace else, and trying to stay away from your email.

For a lot of us, that also means running.

Or does it?

When I go on vacation, I try to run where I'm at, and take in new sights/terrains/trails while I'm at it. I don't really run for distance or time - I become a running tourist to see the best that the area has to offer.

But not every vacation run is the same. Here are some tips for different kinds of vacation-popular running environments:

1. Down the shore

Two big differences about shore running from home running is that there's almost no shade, and the road can be very crowded, especially in popular routes with slow moving bikes. As for the shade, run early or late, or wear a hat or visor (I don't like sunglasses because they fog up, and my visor keeps the sun off my face).

As for the crowds, avoid the boardwalks during peak bike time (most towns allow bikes on in the mornings only), and on main driving streets, like Dune Drive in Avalon and Stone Harbor, and the Ocean Drive in Sea Isle. Usually, bay-front streets will be less crowded because you won't be competing with the crowd itching to get to the water. Bonus, though, if you can jump into the ocean when you're done to cool off.

2. In the mountains

Mountain running can be glorious, but running at elevation can zap your breath out of your lungs before you even get started. Either plan a shorter than at-home run, or know you'll be taking some walk breaks to catch your breath. Also, carrying water when you may not otherwise will help deal with elevation changes too. I don't use trail shoes when running on trails here, but I bought a pair after my first run in North Carolina because the paths were harder to navigate. If you find your shoes lacking, locate the local running store. If they're near hills and mountains, they'll have plenty of trail shoes in stock.

3. In the heat

Headed to Florida for your family trip this year to see a certain mouse? Expect our region's usual summer heat and humidity - but worse. The same rule about sun coverage at the Jersey Shore applies, and you may want to tack on sports sun block if you don't already use it since the sun is stronger down South. Running before the sun comes up or after it goes down, and carrying water, will also make things a little less uncomfortable. I can't stand hydration belts, so I go with a Nathan bottle that wraps around my hand (plus I carry cash in case I need to stop for a refill).

4. In a foreign country.

When I've run in Rome and Vancouver (yes Canada is a foreign country), I ran with a paper map in hand. Both times, my hotel had them for free at their concierge desks. With a paper map, I didn't drain the out of state data packages I'd bought before I left the U.S., and I could see what main, big tourist attractions I could run to from my hotel. For both cities, I took a long walk before starting a run. It helped me learn the local running etiquette, like in Vancouver where parks have separate paved lanes for people on wheels and people on foot. In Rome, I knew that streets were narrow and motorcycles tended to zip around traffic, which kept me on sidewalks.

Now my question for you is: do you consider time off from work time off from running? Or time to explore something new? Or a little bit of both? Take our poll (above) or share your thoughts in the comments.

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