Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Tri Life: The Travelling Triathlete (Training on the Road)

Here's a post that I wrote for the Rev3 Triathlon Blog a couple months back.  Reposting here for posterity.  Enjoy!!


As endurance athletes, whether we be triathletes, pure runners or pure cyclists there is one common thread: WE ALL HAVE TO TRAIN!  For most of us, to even enjoy doing the things we do "for fun", it requires a certain personality type.  There are the exceptions, but a great deal of us obsess over our training.  We have our plans laid out and we follow those plans religiously to reach our goal.  Seems easy enough, right?  Well, what about when it's not?  Take, for example, this week.  I had to go out of town for work Wednesday through Friday.  Great, but what about my Wednesday swim workout? What about my Thursday bike workout? Travelling can be fun, but the challenge is finding where and how to get my training in while on the road.  No matter if travelling for business or for fun there's a few things I always think about.

What training resources will I have at my disposal when I get to my destination?  Am I staying at a hotel that will have a fitness area?  Most nicer hotels will have at least a treadmill or two.  Some even  have stationary bikes, elliptical trainers and weights. Am I staying with family or friends? If so, do they have fitness equipment or will I have to improvise?  Is there a gym nearby?  A lot of gyms will do a free or inexpensive one-day or two-day pass.  This is a great way to get in a swim workout, spin class or a run on the treadmill if you need one.  Another great resource is local clubs.  Do a quick google search for tri clubs, cycling clubs or running clubs in the area where are you headed.  Make contact with them either through social media or their website.  I like to see if there are any favorite running routes, greenways or the like around where I'm staying.  No need to pound out miles on a treadmill if there is good weather and a safe path nearby!  

After I figure out what training possibilities I have, then next thing to consider is packing.  What do I need to pack in order to get my training in?   I will go ahead and say that for the majority of my travels, I pack running gear and that's it.  A pair of shoes, some socks, a pair of shorts and a shirt.  Done. Easy. With those things, I can go for a run, I can do a strength workout, I can even spend some time on a spin bike if I so desire.  Depending on how long I'm staying wherever I'm staying will dictate the number of clothes required.  If I'm taking a bike or planning to ride, then things become more cumbersome (especially in the cooler weather) but sometimes it's quite worth it.  Before Christmas I made a trip to see my family in Cincinnati.  After a quick search online, I found the Cincinnati Cycling Club was going to be doing a group ride that I could potentially attend.  I decided to take the bike and joined them.  It was a great time, I got to meet new people and see a part of the country in a way that I hadn't seen it before.  Of course, if all else fails and room allows, a bike trainer is quite portable.

The last thing to consider is nutrition.  I'm not just talking about how many bars, gels, drinks etc do I need to take.  That's important but what's more important? How am I going to keep up my nutrition and not sabotage my training with poor dietary decisions.  I try to maintain a relatively clean diet.  Travelling makes that quite a bit more difficult.  Both driving and flying present their own sets of challenges when it comes to food but where there's a will, there's a way.  When driving, keep an eye out for national or regional chain restaurants that you know have healthier options.  The grilled chicken sandwich is my go-to road meal most of the time as it can be had at most fast-food chains.  I stay away from fried things most of the time but ESPECIALLY when travelling. Nothing is worse than the fried food gut bomb when on a road trip.  I also usually eat quite a bit lighter when travelling.  I tend to eat smaller meals and snack (on healthy things) as I go rather than eat a big meal.  This helps to keep me focused and not feel sluggish and sleepy when I'm driving.

In the end, the most well laid plans can always fall through.  No matter how much I  plan, how much I pace, how good my intentions are, I may not get to strictly adhere to my training plan.  The trick, for me, is: think on the fly, improvise where I can and don't sweat the missed workouts.  At the end of the day, a missed swim workout is not going to derail and entire seasons worth of work.  Any training is better than no training!

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