Like many busy amateur athletes, I have a pretty full schedule for work, home and athletics. People often wonder how I manage to train when I’m away from home since finding a pool, a track or getting on a bike can be hard to do under the best of circumstances, let alone when you are away from your home territory. I’ve put together a few of the key ways I make things work for me when traveling.
Do What You Can. Depending on where I’m going to be, I do my homework and figure out what I’ll have access to. First, I always stay in a hotel with a decent gym or find a gym nearby. Sometimes, “decent” means a working treadmill and that’s about it, but if possible, I choose my hotel based on its fitness facilities or its proximity to a park, YMCA, or a gym that will let me purchase a day pass. Spin classes can make up for bike rides, running can happen just about anywhere, and many hotel pools are just long enough to allow for a 20 minute swim that won’t make you too dizzy.
Make It Work For You. Food is another issue that can be difficult for people when they travel because most meals are eaten at restaurants or prepared by someone else. I find that if I can keep breakfast, lunch and my snacks close to what I usually do at home, dinner can be managed. Again, I make sure I’ll have a small fridge in my hotel room. Next, I find a grocery store to get key supplies (cereal, milk, juice, nuts, fruit, etc). For meals at restaurants, I look for the things on the menu that more portion controlled (since most of the portions are way too large for me or anyone else) or I plan to eat half of what they bring me and bring the rest “home” for lunch the next day. I also order vegetables or ask for a side of steamed broccoli since salads get old after while. I’m not afraid to ask if they can prepare something without sauces or salt or with a different side dish to meet my needs. They can always say no, but by asking for what I want, I can often get it.
Keep It Short but Intense. Since time is usually limited when I travel, I plan workouts in the 30 minute to 1 hour range. But, I make sure to keep about 20 minutes of those workouts in the higher intensity zones to make up for the short duration. For example, I’ll warm up for 20 minutes and then do 10 minutes of :30 very hard or fast intervals followed by :30 really easy. I can use that pattern whether I’m running, swimming or biking.
Go Commando. Not in terms of what you aren’t wearing but in terms of needing a gym. I can do a great workout using my own body weight (core work, push ups, yoga) or a set of stairs. I’ve been known to do walk/run laps in the airport.
Don’t Leave Home Without Them. Goggles, cap, bathing suit, running shoes, gym clothes, and sometimes my bike shoes, helmet, TRX and foam roller (depending on the length of the trip). It may sound like a lot of “extra” stuff, but its really not, and I’ve discovered a lot of cool places around the country for open water swimming, bike riding and running that I never would have seen without being prepared.