California Dreaming: A Suitcase Suited for Vacation Runs

Happy Monday, from hot and sweaty New York City. Fortunately, in terms of the state of my physical health, this godawful heatwave decided to strike Manhattan and the rest of the Eastern seaboard at just the right time. Rather than running my face off, like last weekend, I instead took the opportunity to spend the weekend sitting on my living room couch in the air conditioning watching far too many episodes of The Wire.

I drank extra classy and not at all juvenile rose (accent on the ‘e’) spritzers laced with sour watermelons…

(Noah should consider a side job as a mixologist.)

…enjoyed sunsets on rooftops in Brooklyn…

…wandered into random gardens while seeking out kale margaritas (have you still not been to The Wayland? What are you waiting for, New Yorkers? Go!)…

…and obsessed over my new monogram necklace, courtesy of the lovely Erica Sara Designs. Seriously people, I cannot stop staring at it.

After dealing with a rough bout of piriformis syndrome last week that really shook me up physically and mentally (really, I don’t remember it being this bad since last summer), I promised myself that I’d take it easy and be super mindful of both the pain and my exercise regimen. In response, I spent 2 days strength training and 1 day doing yoga — not running as I otherwise would.

On Saturday morning, I woke up ready for a short 3-mile reintroduction to the pavement. Being that it was 83 degrees by the time Noah and I set out along the East River for a 1.5-mile down-and-back, I certainly wasn’t complaining with the abbreviated distance.

(If only I could capture heat, you’d get it.)

Saturday morning’s run was muy calor. While we had hoped that the East River breeze would offer at least some small sense of reprieve from the heat-emitting concrete streets, the lack of shade between around 34th and 14th Street really knocked us on our asses. Dehydrated after just 2 measly miles, we finished up the final 10 minutes of our run at the neighborhood Dunkin Donuts, sucking down 2 large 99-cent iced teas with the kind of frivolity that one can only possess when faced with a really, really good deal like that.

As for the rest of the weekend, I took a full day off on Sunday, allowing myself to simply hide from the powerful sun while giving my body a full 24 hours to heal. To avoid temptation, I escaped from the city and hung out on Long Island for the day, where I did little more than literally watch the grass — and the zucchinis — grow.

Noah and I are off to San Francisco for a long July 4th weekend on Tuesday evening, and there’s nothing I want more right now than to be able to see the city on foot. I mean, the weather there is going to pretty much be magical — a runner’s dream — and so I won’t be doing anything this week to jeopardize my chances of jogging to the Fisherman’s Wharf, biking across the Golden Gate Bridge, or generally enjoying these precious few days during which I will be hiding from the rest of the world.

Packing for a vacation when you’re planning on being active is never an easy task. It can be hard enough to remember to bring a blow dryer, toothbrush and extra underwear when heading out of town for several days, let alone small details like headphones and a sports bra.

If you’re going on vacation for July 4th too — or any other trip, for that matter — and you plan on checking the area out while running, then remember to consider these essentials.

A Suitcase Suited for Vacation Runs

  • Running socks. The only thing worse than forgetting the proper running socks and wearing some improper footwear is having to walk around the city with blisters afterward. Do yourself a favor and bring a pair or two that’ll enable you to run happily and comfortably.
  • Running shorts. Or leggings, or whatever you run in. Of course, this will depend on the weather. If you’re looking to save space, I usually find that 1 pair of bottoms is enough. So what if they’re a little smelly? Not the end of the world.
  • Tank tops. Don’t skimp on these. If you’re planning 2 runs, bring 2 tanks or tees. If you’re planning 3, bring 3. Tops are too close to your nose, meaning that if you wind up stopping in a store or at a cafe or any other local hub, you’ll probably want a shirt that’s (relatively) clean.
  • Headgear. Whether sweatband or visor or hat, don’t forget to bring your typical headgear along for the ride. Personally, I’m insanely pumped to break out my new Sparkly Soul red, white and blue glittery headband just in time for the July 4th celebrations.
  • Sports bra. This is probably one of the easier items to forget. And when you do, it very much sucks. When you leave your sports bra behind, you have to run in a regular bra. When you run in a regular bra, you’re uncomfortable the entire time. When you get back to the hotel, you realize that you’ve ruined your nice bra. So yea, don’t forget to pack this.
  • Headphones. Another item I always forget. When running in a new city, these probably won’t be necessary, as you’ll likely be entertained by the scenery around you. It’s just nice to have the option if you’re someone who enjoys running with music, which I often do.
  • Sneakers. Obvious? Yes. But that also makes your sneakers one of the easiest to forget. Don’t forget your sneakers. Another way to save space is to wear these suckers on the plane.
  • Accessories. Do you wear a brace? Use kinesiotape? Rely on your Garmin? Run with a handheld water bottle? Sport sunglasses? Chomp Gu’s? Go through a mental checklist, and be sure that you’re all set to go with these small accessories that make your runs that much stronger and more enjoyable.

Do you run when you go on vacation or visit a new city? What’s a must when packing your suitcase?


16 thoughts on “California Dreaming: A Suitcase Suited for Vacation Runs

  1. I love running in new cities – SF has always been my favorite running city when I lived in Michigan and traveled for work, and about a year ago I moved to the Bay Area. Pretty much a dream come true (even though I don’t live in the city.) Have so much fun, make sure to run Embarcadero along the bay and the Golden Gate bridge!

  2. SF is a great city to walk around! Love the hills got a great workout just hiking up and down the hills. If you have time walk up to Coit Tower on top of Telegraph Hill, see the murals. It doesn’t cost anything to see them, if you want to take the elevator up to see the view from the top then you have to pay but the art work at the bottom is free. I did go up and the views were amazing!

    • Oh wow, thanks for the recommendation! This is going on the list too; it sounds wonderful. Hopefully those hills don’t kick my behind too much 🙂

  3. Love your tattoo! what does it say? (my script is a little rusty)
    Also I loveee seeing your pic of the east river path. I miss it! I am an east villager transplanted to SF this summer for a job .. on that note, I see you are coming out here! I’m sure the weather will be a great reprieve from the heat.. it’s actually been pretty cold and gloomy the past couple days, but hopefully it will be sunny when you are here!

    • Thank you! Let’s see; there are actually 3. We’ve got 1) Peace of mind (or hi/bye) 2)”I am…” 3) “My world” (as in the Beatle’s, ‘nothing’s gonna change…’). There you have it!

      The East River path is oh-so pretty, but I am beyond excited to check out San Fran on foot. And considering that it will be 90 and above here through next weekend, I could use a little crisp weather! Hopefully the sun comes out.

  4. Ugh, I tell ya… this heat has been wrecking my runs, too. I’ve been trying to get up earlier to get them in before it gets TOO hot, but even then I’ve been cutting them short and/or walking part of the way.

    I love to run in new cities! I have to pack a box of high protein cereal bars to munch on before I go out for a run, since you never know what food will be served/available on vacation.

    • That’s a great idea! Though I think San Fran might have a few good foodie finds 🙂 When I went upstate, I kept almond cereal bars with me. What a life saver in the woods.

      Frustrating right? I’m glad this morning was actually A LOT nicer in NYC. 73 and sunny was more than pleasant, so I’m glad I didn’t force it yesterday. At least I am retrospectively.

  5. Great timing on this post! I’m packing up later this month to go to Chicago for the first time and run a half. I’ve been trying to list out all my goods that I MUST take in order to have a good run. Some of that stuff you just can’t stroll into a store and buy (or you can, but it’ll cost you). Being that I have never been there before, I’m excited to see so many of the sites on foot.

    The heat here is redonk too. It’s already in the 100s by noon time and it’s still high 90s at 8:30. I’ve been getting up at 5 a.m. and running before work. It’s normally still pretty humid, but at least the sun isn’t beating down on me. I am NOT a morning person, so this getting up business will probably end as soon as mother nature gets her act together.

    • Well cheers to that! Somehow setting your alarm for 5am, even if it’s just a few times, is always such an issue. I think it’s the darkness thing. I need light to get out of bed without being cranky. You deserve may more credit than me; I did NOTHING yesterday (though took a wonderful 5-mile run this morning). Good luck in Chicago! That sounds like a great half. Perhaps the breezy city will make it pleasant on race day. Fingers crossed!

  6. What do you do to keep your piriformis under control? I’m just coming back from ITBS and my piriformis has been so tight, I’m paranoid of being injured again!

    • Well first, know that I’m just a 20-something who’s had piriformis syndrome for about a year. As someone who prefers to run everyday, I’ve figured out ways that enable me to do so, but of course, you might consider seeing a physical therapist.

      That said, a few of the things that help me:
      1. Restorative yoga. Stay away from hard core power yoga, since I find that gentle motion with long-held poses does my body good, not super-difficult poses that may aggravate the muscles/nerves. Poses I enjoy from my living room: pigeon pose (I could stay in this ALL day) and seated spinal twist. I also find that laying on my back and making a “figure 4” with my legs, then pushing the bent knee out even further, feels AMAZING.

      2. Foam roll. Sometimes I blog while sitting on it, letting the glutes and piriformis really dig into it over 30 minutes or so. Kneading a tennis ball into the area feels nice too, and sometimes can get those hard to reach places that a giant foam roller can’t.

      3. Consider booking a massage. It’s not for relaxation, so you don’t have to feel bad! I held off on this for so long, until my boyfriend’s MD mom told me that it would be a good idea. All it took was a doctor’s prescription and DONE — I was sold! Just be sure to find a massage therapist who has lots of experience in dealing with athletes and IT bands. I’d be happy to help refer you to one through my company, Zeel (and get you a nice discount too). Don’t hesitate to reach out if you’re looking for one! Happy to help.

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