We are approaching the time of year when school lets out, the weather is starting to turn for most parts of the country, and vacation season kicks into high gear. So what does an ideal vacation look like to you? If you are like most people, it typically consists of some beach time, family, and relaxation. Today, the Pursuit is thrilled to share what vacation looks like for Endeavor athlete Brandon Hensinger and his fiancé Becki West. Brandon is a Wilderness First Responder and a certified USA Climbing Coach, with an interesting take on the concept of vacation and some great tips to help you maximize an active vacation!
Training for Vacation?
What crosses your mind when you think of a tropical vacation to Miami, the Florida Keys, and Puerto Rico? For Becki and I, we think of long open ocean swims, running around city ruins, rock climbing, and half marathons. (Of course, we think about relaxing on the beach, eating great food, and dancing to salsa music too). To most people, vacation is a time to take a break from doing active things. We know that we are most likely in the minority in that we actually trained for our vacation. Yes, you heard that right, we trained for our vacation! Why you might ask? Mainly because we wanted to accomplish things that only dedicated training could accomplish.
As a quick back story, Becki and I have known each other since we were 14 years old, and were each other’s first boyfriend and girlfriend. 20 years later, we have reunited and have discovered that the commonalities we shared back then have persisted and continue to draw us together and deepen our love for one another. So, our recent winter vacations consisted of some incredibly relaxing times, and yet also consisted of hard athletic efforts fueled by the training we did leading up to the trip. I would argue that those hard endurance efforts were actually relaxing too…since afterwards we feel incredible rejuvenation and peace, and find that kind of “get beat down” effort as fun! We have strategically inserted our vacations in to our schedule so that we can use them to recover, yet also to accomplish our mini goals along the way to our bigger goals We are constantly pushing each other to become better, and we both have greatly benefited from that.
So what did we do on these vacations?
- 3 1.5 Mile Open Ocean Swims
- 8 Mile run through Key West
- Paradise Half Marathon in Naples
- Rock Climb in Nuevo Bayamón Puerto Rico
So what does it look like to live this lifestyle?
- Training as a Way of Life - Training, unlike exercise, is a way of life that defines who we are as athletes. It isn’t just something we have to do, but rather the key element that we build our schedules around, enabling us to accomplish the goals and dreams we have set out to achieve. We see training, and performing, as part of who we are, and therefore this all feels so incredibly natural to us.
- Eating and Proper Fueling - Food is one of our favorite things. We love to find new foods, we love to eat, and we love to find new wines. We discovered some amazing new foods in Puerto Rico, and found an amazing restaurant called Marmalade. One of our favorite morning activities on vacation is sitting outside and eating breakfast and drinking coffee, eating fresh fruit and whatever else looks natural and delicious. So contrary to popular opinion, living this active lifestyle doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy life and enjoy food. We certainly do. However, the difference is in what we eat. We simply don’t have a desire to eat unhealthy food, but rather are drawn to delicious ingredients such as quinoa, salads, kale, sweet potatoes, steel cut oatmeal, salmon (for Brandon), seitan (for both of us), beans, soups, the list goes on. We have noticed a marked difference in our performance, recovery, and training when we eat well. Once per week, we allow ourselves liberty to have dessert and drink wine…which is something we greatly look forward to. By doing this, we have trained ourselves to love what is good for us. It takes years to refine and get used to eating foods that in the past you may not have eaten, but we encourage everyone to take it one meal at a time and begin seeing the difference that healthy fueling makes. We also follow a pretty strict pre and post training nutrition plan…but that will be a post for another time!
- Recovery - We can’t stress the importance of recovery enough. We take 1 full rest day per week at least, taking the opportunity to sleep so that our bodies can recover. Both of us monitor our daily HRV (heart rate variability), to ensure that we are recovering properly. If we have low HRV, we allow that to inform us when we may need extra recovery. Sleep and recovery is just as important as hard training. On recovery days, we may go for a long walk, take a hike, do easy yoga…just restorative activities. That’s why training vacations are great! You get to train, perform, and then recover in beautiful settings doing what you love to do. We loved snorkeling and laying on the beach for sure!
- Clothes and Performance Gear - You’ll notice by looking at the activities we did, that they were all performed in hot weather. Most people think about proper layering and clothing when it comes to cold weather, but not so much for hot weather. It’s common to see people training in hot weather with no shirt on, or in random clothes. However, it’s just as important to wear the right clothes for hot weather. In sports like running and rock climbing, where excess sweating and heat can drain your body’s ability to remove lactic acid from muscles which can cause extreme fatigue, the proper clothing will make a major impact on your ability to sustain high performance levels. Specific to rock climbing, the wrong choice in performance apparel can cause you to sweat so much that you run out of chalk, which every rock climber knows could be disastrous! We have found that Endeavor’s clothes make a tremendous difference through the training process and performance process, because they provide the perfect solution to staying dry, cool, and unhindered. In the past while rock climbing, I often climbed without a shirt on in the hot months, because it allowed for freedom of movement. However, I now climb predominately with Endeavor’s clothes, because I can move freely and also stay cool. As you can tell, I firmly believe that proper clothes can make or break any endurance athlete.
For those of you planning out vacations this summer, try changing things up this time and look into something that will both challenge and reward you! There are great options in most tropical locations that will blow you away. From long hikes to secret waterfalls, to stand up paddle board races, to scenic marathons, there are amazing ways to turn vacation into a relaxing yet physically fulfilling adventure!
Wilderness First Responder
Certified USA Climbing Coach