How to stay running fit on a super long road trip

We’ve driven over 1,564km from the beautiful Queensland coastline to the burnt orange soil of Northern Territory outback. Six days on the Overlander’s Way from Townsville to Tennant Creek.   

We’d love to spend more time on the trail exploring little townships en route, but we have a date in Alice Springs for Run Larapinta, a multi-day run along the spectacular and iconic trail. The problem is that sitting on your arse for six days in a van isn’t exactly the best training for 4-day, 4-stage god-knows-how-many-kilometres trail run.

So we decided early on to keep moving as much as we could while on the road. Fingers’ crossed it pays off at the finish line!

Here’s how we kept fit on the road:

  1. Find the hills

 The Australian outback isn’t known for its mountains, but there are some bloody big hills. We make it our mission to find the lookout points in every town and use them for hill training. In Mt Isa, we were lucky enough to find two – the city lookout and Pamela Street lookout. But our favourite was in Hughenden where we were thrilled to find Mount Walker, a steep hill rising up from the vast flat Hughenden region. Not only was it an incredible spot for a sunset picnic, the 2km-long hill was perfect for our morning hill sprints!

Up up up at Kata Tjuta, Central Australia
  1. Get out and sprint

After a couple of hours on the road, we pulled up in a tiny rest stop at the side of the road, laced up our runners and started sprint reps back and forth. Sure, people stared and told us we were crazy, but it was great training! Our “half hour of power” was filled with sprints, kangaroo jumps and skips – Mat assures me these are proven plyometrics, but I just think he was entertaining the other travellers!

Jump jump jump!
  1. Stretch

Stowed in the back of the Old Girl, always within easy reach, is our Thermorest. Once used for camping, it’s now our dedicated stretching mat. We use it during the rest stops and at the end of every day, stretching out all the kinks from the road.

And stretch it out…the Old Girl has a rest while Mat stretches
  1. Sniff out the trails

Everywhere we look there is space. But very rarely do we see trails we can run and explore. Then, one fine day in Cloncurry, a passerby spotted the bikes rusting on the back of the Kombi and revealed the location of some secret mountain bike trails just 2km out of town. Mat and I looked at each other with an understanding: we wouldn’t be riding these trails, we’d be running them. Ten minutes later, we parked at Chinaman’s Creek Dam with 30km of rolling trails laid out in front of us. Heaven.

It wasn’t difficult to get motivated at the Devils Marbles!


  1. Throw a Frisbee 

If there’s one thing the outback isn’t short of, it’s space. So we pull out the Frisbee from behind the front seat and spend half an hour throwing it around. There’s only one rule in our game: you must sprint and jump to catch it. No excuses. When we climb back into the kombi, we’re always sweaty but smiling!

  1. Create your own gym

We’re not gym junkies, but we do enjoy a strength workout every now and again. So we’ve been creating our own gym using, well, anything we can find! We lift, push, stretch and pull. Seriously, I can’t believe we ever paid a gym membership fee!

And lift! 

How do you keep fit while travelling? Tell us your tips!  

One thought on “How to stay running fit on a super long road trip

  1. I love reading about your adventures.

    Keeping fit while on a road trip or any type of holiday can be hard, but if it’s important to you then you find a way, besides it’s an adventure, and when will you have the opportunity to be out there again?

    Sometimes you have to ask the locals for the hidden gems, other times you just got to make it up as you go along.


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