Thursday, September 27, 2007

Traveling for the Health-Conscious Athlete

Well, folks, I head out for Tennessee manana. It's the crazy 24-hour countdown where you try to get as much as you can done without going to pieces before getting on the plane.

Since we spoke last, I've gotten in a great 6-mile run, a weight session and a swim session. Doing pretty well, eh? If I can only hop on the trainer tonight and then in the pool 1 last time for a 6:00 am workout before getting on the plane, I will be set up for a perfect week.

I thought I would use this opportunity to discuss traveling tips for the overworked, health-conscious athlete:

1. Plan ahead. You will be extra-busy and have less flexibility. Fill out your schedule to figure out how to get everything done the week before. Stick to it. Now is not the time to procrastinate. Don't forget details. Do you need a pet sitter? Schedule in advance. A cab to the airport? Reserve one the night before. Don't leave anything last minute.

2. Be realistic. Do not expect to complete your 2-year long "To Do" list. Delegate some items to after your return.

3. Reschedule workouts to fit them all in. My off day is normally Monday but since I'm traveling on Friday, I switched my off day to Friday this week.

4. Schedule workouts while you're away. Many hotels have gyms and some even have lap pools. Do a little research on-line before you go. If your hotel doesn't have a pool, look up local lap pools that charge a daily-use fee or drop-in masters programs. Swimmer's Guide is indispensable for this. Call ahead to confirm that what you find on-line is actually available in reality. In addition, you can run anywhere--all you need is a pair of running shoes. Research routes ahead of time or just use your watch and do a timed out-and-back from your hotel. USATF has a great resource for this. Traveling is a great opportunity to try new scenic runs and get to know the area your visiting from a different perspective. The only thing that is really hard to do when you're away is biking so plan ahead. You may be able to find a few spinning classes or access to some spinning bikes. Also, research the bike stores in the area. Some may provide rentals. And don't forget, you can always do crunches, push-ups, and stretching right in your hotel room!

5. Use travel time as down-time. Airports can be hectic and stressful. I like to use this time to relax. When else can I read trashy novels and smut magazines? I listen to music, tune out the hustle-bustle and enjoy the time I have to wait for the plane.

6. Walk and stretch before boarding. You will be sitting for a long time, which is really hard on your already sore body. Make sure your carry-on is light so you can walk around the terminal and stretch your legs. Find a quiet place and really stretch out your legs before you sit down. Do it again when you land. Your body will thank you later.

7. Drink LOTS of water.

8. Eat healthy. This can be challenging when eating out but be disciplined. Go for salads, sandwiches and smoothies. Always choose baked or grilled over fried. Less sauce means fewer calories. Try to eat as many veggies and fruits as you can. Along these same lines, don't eat anything weird. I have ruined more than a few trips with food poisoning.

9. Get lots of sleep. Traveling through many time zones can leave you feeling jet-lagged. Depending on the length of your stay, you can either a) change your schedule to the new time zone (not recommended but can't be helped if you are staying for a week or more) or b) stick to your home time zone (best for shorter stays). Try to avoid naps when you arrive and go to bed early instead. This will help the following morning.

10. Wash your hands. Don't forget to take your multi. You are being exposed to many new germs, and the change is a shock to your immune system. Avoid getting a cold by being OCD about hygiene.

With just a little planning and discipline, traveling can take a lot less out of you than it needs to. Happy Training!


Dying Water Buffalo said...

Nice post, Rachel! Have a good trip and follow your list. I might print that out and put it in my file for future trips... esp the walk around before boarding is an awesome one.

Rainmaker said...

That is so awesome. You have a 2-year todo list. And I thought I was bad with a multi-month one (well, like a ton of multi-month ones).

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great tips! I find it very hard to be an athlete on the road, and stick to my training.

home fitness

JeffM said...

Have a good trip and I really like #'s 6 and 7.

Mon said...

Have a fun trip!!!!!

Lisa said...

Ugh I hate what travelling does to my schedule. Good tips, though!

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