Susan Lacke—Whether you’re taking a family vacation for a week or conducting monthly overseas business for work, balancing travel and training can be a difficult task. Four age-group triathletes who log frequent flyer miles and training days share their secrets.
Sarah Morrison, who spends approximately half the year in the skies as a co-pilot for Skywest Airlines and a c-130 pilot for the Air Force Reserve, manages to train for 70.3 and Xterra triathlons on a very light suitcase. Her packing list includes a Garmin 910XT, which serves as a training tracker as well as an online travel journal (“It’s fun to log runs in different locations and post them for my friends to see!”)
Morrison also packs a grid foam roller, which is hollow in the middle, providing extra packing space for clothing. The refillable ice pack in her lunch kit doubles as icing for sore spots after a workout. Finally, she packs one kit, which she washes in her hotel sink and lets dry overnight before wearing again the next day.
“Take a hotel towel and lay it flat, place the wet clothes on the towel and put another dry towel over the top. Roll it up and kneel on it to squeeze out as much water as possible. Then hang on hangers to dry overnight. You can find Tide sink packs in the travel goods at most department store, or just go cheap and use the hotel shampoo or hand soap for detergent.”
Plan (And Adjust As Needed)
Felipe Wells, Global Program Director for Allegis Group Servies, estimates his career requires him to be on the road 80 to 85 percent of the year. Some of his trips are only days in length, while others last five or six weeks. Proper planning, he says, allows him to maintain his training schedule for Ironman Lake Tahoe.
“There is no way to wing it on the road. You have to look ahead for the entire length of your trip and put your workouts into your calendar, especially if you’re dealing with extended travel.”
However, plans change, warns Wells. He experienced this firsthand on multiple occasions, noting that he has had “bad streaks” where an entire week of workouts were missed.
“Just like any meetings, you might have to reschedule some of your training sessions or even miss them. Don’t stress, just focus and move on to the next one.”
Few things are worse than being sick or rundown on the road. Andy Niblett, Director of Sales at ISCO Industries, prioritizes sleep and hydration to ensure his body can handle the demands of training and a grueling travel schedule.
“I can go two to three days with late business functions or dinners combined with early workouts before it catches up to me. If I go too long without getting the recovery I need, it will show up in training. I do a pretty good job at managing fatigue and overtraining before it starts to have an impact on my professional and family life.”
Niblett stresses the importance of hydration (“It’s easy to get dehydrated when traveling, especially in the winter months”) and sleep.
“Remember that recovery is just as important as a quality workout.” Says Niblett, who sings the praises of training on the road. “I think my training has a positive effect on my professional life. I start my day on a high of endorphins every day.”
Know Your Resources
In new locations, it can be difficult to find safe, affordable places to train. If the people you are visiting don’t have ideas for you, ask your hotel concierge for a map of trails or list of local gyms.
Technology can also be your friend. Garmin recently rolled out a “Heat Maps” feature, a color grid overlay which allows athletes to find the most popular workout routes in a city. Morrison uses an iPhone app called AroundMe to find gyms and lap pools within walking distance of her hotel, and Niblett e-mails local running clubs before traveling to a city for advice on the best training routes.
Finding healthy foods on the road can be a challenge. To fuel your workouts without fast food and processed, empty calories, consider packing healthy alternatives, such as nuts, dried fruits and protein bars. If driving to your destination, make several homemade smoothies, freeze and transport in a cooler for a dose of fruits and vegetables on the road.
If your hotel provides a complimentary breakfast bar, pick up an extra piece of fruit (keep these to the varieties you can peel when traveling overseas), some single-serve peanut butter packets and a juice container or two for a snack. If you have an in-room refrigerator, ask for the closest grocery store or health food market to stock up on fresh, healthy fuel.
When eating out, don’t be afraid to modify the menu. Most restaurants will be very accommodating in a request for extra vegetables or healthy substitutes, like avocado in place of mayonnaise.
Keep The Balance
Your training isn’t the only thing that is affected by all your time on the road. Matt Rutig, Vice President of Investor Solutions for Jeffries LLC, keeps his race schedule light and chooses races close to home to maximize time with family when he’s not on the road.
“It’s not all about me on the weekends,” says Rutig, who raced Ironman New York City in 2012 and is currently training for Ironman Mont Tremblanc, “I plan one long early morning ride and one long early morning run on the weekends, then I spend as much time with my family as possible.”
Rutig also makes sure to prioritize family time on the road as well. “We have such great tools to stay in touch. There’s nothing like a FaceTime conversation with my wife and daughter after a long lonely run while traveling.”