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A Runner’s Guide To Going Camping While Training

When you think of camping, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? For me, it’s hiking and s’mores. However, there can be much more to camping, and as a newbie, this can be eye opening!

Similar to running, camping can be a way to escape the day-to-day and let go of stress. Whether you want to go boating, hike or head to a festival, there are many benefits to camping—and you don’t have to let your training go to do it all. In fact, it’s one of the best ways to just run and not focus on time, speed or distance! Think of it this way: mixing camping and running is like a spa day (kind of). It’s a way to unwind, detach from technology and de-stress.

Plan Your Camping Trip

First things first, you’ve got to plan where you want to camp, even if it’s a last-minute getaway. Whether you want an oceanfront vacation or wilderness destination, get online and do a little research. Sites like Reserve America can help you find and book a campground while planning outdoor adventures.

You’ve planned your campsite, now it’s time to plan your arrival. You’ll want to get to the campground during daylight so you have plenty of light to set up your tent, unpack and look around the camp area. There’s nothing worse than arriving when it’s dark not being able to see anything!

After a nice relaxing evening of star gazing, get up the next day and get ready for a morning of running. Just because you’re camping doesn’t mean you have to skip a run. And if you’re not a trail runner, don’t worry—you don’t need to get on trails. There are plenty of ways to run without getting off the beaten path. You can run around the campgrounds find the road you came on and run on the side (usually there are still plenty of scenic views), or hit the walking paths and log some miles.

If you’re a trail goer or road runner, the important thing to remember is to let go of the hectic day-to-day chaos. So leave your phone behind—or put it on airplane mode if you want music—and just go. Don’t time yourself! Just enjoy. Don’t be afraid to stop and take in the epic scenery that Mother Nature has to offer.

Find Your Run Route

When you check into your campsite, grab a map from the ranger. Don’t feel bad for asking questions; you’re new to the area, and they are used to it. Ask him about some flat terrain, distances and areas to run by—after all, you can run and sightsee at the same time.

Use a pen or highlighters to map out your run. Sometimes using different colored highlighters help to plan different days. Just like a race map, study the map so you don’t get lost.

Make sure to bring a camera or your phone (just set it on airplane mode so you don’t get distracted by social media and e-mails) so you can snap pictures of any cool sites.

Packing Essentials

Whether you’ve camped a few times or it’s your first, there are a few packing hacks and things to take (or leave behind) as you escape to the great outdoors.

Pack Light—You don’t need a whole lot for camping, but bring layers. Your outerwear can be worn daily, so no need to pack multiple sweatshirts or jackets.

Double Up—Your running shoes can double as day-wear or hiking shoes if you head out for a hike. So no need to pack multiple shoes. One pair should be good. If it’s hot outside, pack a pair of flip-flops to wear as you lounge at your campsite.

Use Plastic Bags—Ziploc bags are you best friend. Pack each outfit into a gallon bag and, as you seal the bag, press down to remove all the extra air. This will make more room in your bag and keep you organized.

Pack The Essentials

  • Socks. Wear multi-sport socks since you’ll be taking part of various activities. These will keep your feet dry and—fingers crossed—blister-free!
  • Shoes. Wear a shoe that you don’t mind getting dirty. Ice Bug’s ANIMA – L RB9X is a light trail running shoe that can be worn on the road or on rocky terrain. Whichever shoe you opt to wear, know it might get a little muddy, wet and dusty—so wear a shoe that is water proof or resistant.
  • Workout/running gear
  • Jacket
  • Shell
  • Flip flops
  • Head lamps. Whether you’re going out for an early morning or evening run, or have to hit the bathroom in the middle of the night, don’t forget to put on your head lamp! Nathan carries a few variations of headlamps, so you can pick what suits you best. They are durable and last for a long time.
  • Hydration pack. Hydration is a must when exploring the outdoors! Whether you want something simple or room to carry layers, a Camelbak is the perfect solution to carry your water and essentials when out and about. You can choose a larger backpack or something small that holds water, sunscreen, keys, money and an ID. There’s something for everyone, but it’s important to have some sort of pack with you during your camping experience to carry your belongings, food and water. You need to stay safe!
  • Tent. REI has a wide selection, or you can rent from them if you don’t own one.
  • Sleeping bag and pad. Voted best bang for your buck on Outdoorgearlab.com, the Kelty Callisto 20 costs about $80 and provides warmth during cold nights. If you get a bit warm at night, it unzips all the way allowing you to cool down.
  • Backpack
  • Food/snacks
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen. Always put on sunscreen before you head outside.
  • Mosquito Spray. There’s nothing worse than leaving your camping trip covered in mosquito bites! Before you head outside, make sure to cover up to prevent those pesky little bites. The Today Show voted Sawyer as one of the most effective repellents because it lasts up to 8 hours.
  • Towel. Any will do.
  • Shampoo/Soap. For an overnight trip, you may just toss your hair up in a ponytail and throw a hat on. But for if you are camping for more than a night, you may want to clean your hair. Klorane Dry Shampoo is voted Allure’s favorite because of the ease to use and effectiveness. Plus, it doesn’t leave your hair stiff like other dry shampoos.

For a more complete packing list, check out The Camping Detective’s checklist.

Fara Rosenzweig

Fara Rosenzweig

Fara Rosenzweig is a writer, editor, and certified personal trainer. She got her first taste of the gym at age 14 and fell in love with the fitness crowd. After suffering a back injury her freshman year of college, she had to set her ballet slippers aside and rehab her back. That’s when she found her passion for teaching fitness and helping others challenge themselves. Her senior year of college she ran in her first 5K and traded her ballet slippers for the latest (and brightest) pair of running shoes. Fara loves talking health, sports and fitness with any one and everyone. Her love for storytelling earned her an Emmy Award and has been seen in many other publications, such as Refinery29, Active.com, MyFitnessPal and Health.