QUESTION: I will be traveling from Calgary to San Francisco to run a marathon in July and am wondering if there are any guidelines about how many days before the race I should travel. We will be staying in San Francisco for ten days, and I would like to run the race in the first few days after we arrive, but I don't know if that’s a good idea.
HAL’S ANSWER: Sounds good to me. I’ve read various recommendations that you should arrive one-day-per-time-zone before competition. In other words, if you live in New York and plan to compete in Europe five or six time zones away, arrive five or six days early. But this can be overkill if you are both young and/or well-trained. In my competitive years, I sometimes stepped off an airplane in Europe only 36 hours before a world masters championships and raced with distinction. When you arrive depends partly on how much time you have. With a ten-day planned vacation and not that much of a time-zone jump, it almost seems that you should make your decision for reasons other than the race. More specifically, for a race of only minor importance, I might travel down one day and run the next. For a major or destination marathon, I would travel down one day, have a full day of rest, then run the next day. If the San Francisco Marathon is truly important, you might want to save your sightseeing for afterwards, even though it’s going to be tough hiking the hills a few days. Take the cable car instead.
Hal uses TrainingPeaks to power his interactive marathon and half marathon training plans. Check out more of Hal Higdon's training plans here or on his website. Archived Q&A's from Hal can be found here.