What better way to discover a new city than by running in it? Or touring the countryside in a mapped out trail race with a few hundred other people? Destination races are one of the best ways to get involved in a culture, see an unfamiliar area, overcome new obstacles, and improve motivation for difficult training sessions.
Asia is a great place to plan, and execute, a destination race. Taiwan commands a fairly central location with direct flights to many of the surrounding major cities. The region is also littered with low cost air carriers and compact cities, making planning a race vacation relatively easy. In combination with the lack of drastic changes in time zones and relatively short flight times, adjusting to the destination should be a breeze. Here are some tips in planning your race vacation in Asia.
Look Far into the Future – Registration for an event can last anywhere from a couple of days to months. It’s likely that you will want to travel for a larger/popular event, in this case registration fills up fast, so plan well in advance to avoid disappointment. Also keep in mind that the popularity of running varies from country to country, some countries have very few races and finding one can be difficult. In other countries, such as Japan, running is popular and registration fills up within days of opening, many months in advance of the race itself.
Do Your Research – Asia is very diverse but not only in temperature and humidity, but also in terrain and elevation changes. China has the most diverse geography in the region (mountains, basins and deserts), Nepal boasts the tallest mountain range in the world and the landmasses around Asia offer everything between, from flat tropical seasides, to snow covered mountain passes. Doing research is key to setting expectations and enjoying the experience.
Consider the Distance – The longer the distance, the more your trip will revolve around the race and more rest you will need. Although being sleep deprived, in itself, should not directly impact your athletic performance, it has been shown to take a toll on your motivation, which is key to success in any endurance event. Depending on your love for running, longer distances could mean a more rewarding experience, but leave you little energy for traditional sightseeing.
Stick to Familiar Foods – Anyone who has traveled the region knows the cuisine can be diverse. Resist the urge to try that succulent, sizzling street meat before your run, even if you are “carb-loading”. If running a race that demands a hydration vest, bring as many of your own staple foods as possible to put in your pack. If you are going for a long vacation, try to plan your race at the beginning so that you can let loose in the days after the race.
Enjoy Yourself – The diversity of Asia is immense and even the most seasoned runner, or tourist, can’t always guess what will happen. So, relax and let the course designers take you on an exclusive tour of an exotic place few others get to run. If you make enjoying the experience, the priority of any vacation, you are sure to succeed.
Read about a destination run that didn’t go as planned, here.