Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Running on a cruise ship

Right after the Miami half marathon, I quickly showered and boarded my cruise ship for a week long journey through the Caribbean. There were a lot of runners on the ship that also had visited Miami for the race and then rewarded themselves with a cruise. I wanted to keep my fitness on the ship, especially given the amount of good food that is available, I didn't want to come home and have lost speed and gained weight. Some of the people chose to run on the islands we visited but I felt our time on the islands was already pretty short so I felt it was better to exercise while we were at sea. My ship, the Carnival Glory, came with a fully equipped gym with half a dozen treadmills, but I dread the treadmills. I was fortunate that it also came with a running track at the top deck.
It was my first experience running on a cruise ship and I didn't expect the running track to have such tight turns
Or to actually be so short. According to the sign, it was 181 meters so about 6 laps to a Kilometer or in my case 30 laps for a 5k or 45 laps for a 7.5k. I didn't manage a 10k on the boat...
The turning and twisting quickly became boresome. I waited until sunset on all counts to go for a variety of reasons. Usually, sunset would be the time when we sail off so I had time to come back from the Island and start getting ready for my run. It also was a time where it was a bit cooler, the Caribbean sun can be quite hot! Sundown was also a time where people retreated to their cabins or the restaurant, leaving the running track less crowded. I didn't check it out at sunrise but I was told that there were a lot of walkers crowding the track at that time and during most of the day I could see people taking their time. Sunset also gave me some inspiring sights to take my mind away from the number of laps remaining. I saw one other runner using it during the day and two more that were using it at the same time I was.

The first time I ran on the ship, I brought my trusty Garmin out and waited for a GPS lock. I found out that the ship was moving at a pretty high speed of 37 km/h so I was doing an amazing time of 1:30m/km just standing around! Couple that with the 10-20 km/h winds out at sea and you have a deadly combination for runners.
I didn't even seem to make a serious dent in the speed of the ship on the way back either.
It was a really interesting workout to say the least. Going towards the aft (back) of the boat felt like flying. All I had to do is jump and let the wind carry me and the boat slip from under me. On the way back to fwd (front) of the boat, I had to fight heavy winds and the motion of the boat. This was very much like an interval training but with strength instead of speed. Difficult workouts are the best for results, right? For added complexity, factor in the rocking of the boat on the waters and you get uneven footing and balancing issues. This was especially noticeable at the turns. Still overall, I would rate this workout more enjoyable than a dreadmill run. Anything is better than a dreadmill, right?

On the first run, I was able to stick in there for 30 laps (5km). On my second one, I achieve 45 laps (7.5km). My third workout had a goal of 10km but the heavy winds took the better of me and I stopped after 30 laps (or maybe it was that free rum punch they gave me at happy hour that killed my determination?!?).

Having the Garmin was very useful to count the laps and see how I was doing speed-wise with the lap timer but the GPS was pretty useless while I was running. It is neat once I am back to see where the boat was at these times when I was running.
I would definitively run on a cruise ship again. I'm happy that next time I'll know what to expect :)


  1. Good for you keeping up with some running on the cruise! Sounds like it made for a pretty good workout!

  2. I like your Garmin maps that make it look like you were just running on water :)

  3. Thanks for the report. I will be running a 50K on the boat in a couple weeks and totally forgot to take in to account the wind and the movement of the boat. Its going to be tough.