Destination races: many runners love them for the fact that they offer the chance to combine running and travel in one trip. Racing through a new city is one of the most unique ways to witness a new location in a truly up-close and personal way.
The only problem: traveling isn’t always easy on the immune system, and sitting for long periods of time (e.g. in a car, plane or train) isn’t a great way to spend the days leading up to your race.
It doesn’t mean your race-day performance has to suffer in order to take an exciting trip for a fun race, though. Simply being aware of the fact that you may need to take a few extra precautions to protect your health while you’re on the road is the first step in the right direction towards a successful destination race.
Here are few things to be aware of.
1. Drink extra water.
The dilemma here is that you’ll likely have limited access to restrooms while you’re on the road, but an important part of keeping your muscles race ready means staying hydrated, especially the day before your race.
This is especially important if you’re travelling by plane, as the humidity levels in an aircraft are typically lower than normal, which increases your risk for becoming dehydrated if you don’t drink enough.
Never travel without a water bottle and pack extra water if you can. And for those with small bladders—well, use the restroom as often as you can and if possible, try to travel with companions who will understand your plight and appease your requests for bathroom breaks.
2. Invest in a small self-massage tool.
Unfortunately, traveling (at least the act of getting from one destination to another) involves long periods of inactivity. While you definitely want to rest your muscles before a race, sitting still for too long could cause them to become tight and stiff. A travel-size self-massage tool, like the Moji Mini Massager, can be used to keep your muscles race ready by helping to increase blood-flow and relieve soreness while you’re
on the go sitting down all day long.
3. Move as much as you can.
On a more obvious note, another way to combat muscles that could become tight and stiff from sitting too much while traveling is simply to get up and move every chance you get. In fact, a recent study revealed that some of the negative effects associated with prolonged periods of sitting can likely be deterred with periodic bouts of walking for as little as five minutes.
4. Stick to your sleep schedule as closely as possible.
Keeping up with a consistent sleep schedule will play a key role in making sure that your performance won’t falter when race day arrives. Since traveling sometimes involves a little bit of partying, try to skip late night celebrations until after your race.
Also, if you’re traveling between time zones, jet lag may prevent you from catching some quality Zs. To combat this issue try to avoid exposure to bright lights (especially during the times you might normally be sleeping), implement some easy recovery workouts in the days just before your race and you can even try to progressively modify your sleeping habits before taking off for your trip so that you’ll be adjusted by the time you arrive.
Remember, it’s common for athletes not to sleep well the night before an event, and that’s OK. What matters most is making sure that you invest in quality sleep two and three nights before the race.
5. Don’t neglect nutrition.
If your destination race also happens to be part of a vacation, you might feel tempted to indulge in meals and snacks that might not best fuel your performance. Keep nutrition at the forefront of your mind by reminding yourself that the foods you eat in the days leading up to your race will become fuel for your performance. Fruity cocktails or decadent desserts will seem enticing, but they won’t make for the best fuel. It’s not like you can’t indulge a little bit, but don’t overdo it (or at least wait until after the race) to make sure you’re in tip top shape as you approach the starting line.