Training Tuesdays: Travel & Training

Spring is here. Travel season is upon us.  In fact, I am currently on a mini vacation and this post is appearing through the magic of pre-scheduled posts.  Today I’m here to talk to you about keeping on track with workouts and training, even when travelling.  This is near and dear to my heart because, although I am a fan of travel, I am also the person who freaks out about vacations throwing off her workout schedule.

The anxiety is real.

Thankfully much of my travel is actually activity-based (i.e. I’m travelling to places specifically to hike), but sometimes it’s for frivolous fun (like this next trip) or for work.  In these cases, I have my own personal coping mechanisms to keep my FOME (fear of missing exercise) from skyrocketing to unmanageable levels. If you also suffer from this lesser-known malady, fear not! Here are my top 5 tips for staying active while travelling:

      Tip: Do your homework. Before any trip, look into what’s in/around your accommodation as well as the general climate.
      What this means: Ask yourself questions like:  Will there be potential running routes? Is it a safe neighborhood? Is it warmer or colder than I’m used to? Is it humid or dry?  Is there a gym on the premises?  Do they offer free passes to a local gym in the area for guests?  
      How this will help you: All of these things will give you insight into what gear to pack, help manage your expectations about what’s possible. Also, you will avoid some of my failures like nearly dying from heat exhaustion in Chicago while trying to run in full-on sunshine on the most humid day of the summer.

      Tip: Prep your travel companions.
      What this means: It’s best to set some expectations before hitting the proverbial road. If you plan to work out while on vacation, particularly if travelling as a twosome, I highly recommend giving your travel companion a heads up.
      How this will help you: There is nothing worse than having your travel buddy expect you to be at his or her beck and call the entire time you’re away. This way, your travel companion can plan for some solo time and anticipate that you’ll be hanging sweaty workout gear in your shared accommodation.

      Tip: Hope for the best in terms of equipment/access to equipment but plan for the worst (i.e. no equipment).
      What this means: It’s just safer to plan for no equipment. Download some training apps (Nike Training Club is a good standby) or build your own plan. The reality is that there are tons of workout options that require absolutely no equipment.  Remember my post about No Excuses? It applies here too.
      How this will help you: I have seen many a hotel or vacation rental photo advertising an amazing fitness centre only to arrive to circa 1985 treadmills or, worse, a recumbent bike as the only cardio equipment. I have seen gyms that looked gargantuan on screen but that, in reality, were roughly the size of my bedroom (and I live in a condo, so that’s maybe 12 X 12).  Even if the equipment is there you might find the treadmill monopolized by the dreaded walker, or the lifting benches occupied by the I’m-at-the-gym-to-scroll-through-my-Facebook-feed dude. Trust me when I way you will be fear happier if you plan for a HIIT workout on a tiny condo patio than if you expect the world’s best gym.

      Tip: Build activity into your trips where you can.
      What this means: Even if I’m not on an “active trip”, I try to find something that fits the activity level of everyone who’s travelling. That might mean trading in a run for some casual canoeing, the 800m elevation gain hike for a gentler climb, or recognizing that walking 100 city blocks through NYC ain’t so bad for a day’s worth of activity.
      How this will help you: You may just discover things you didn’t expect, like the time my friend and I found the most fragrant eucalyptus forest on a casual hike in San Marin county or when I discovered that I love canoeing but cannot for the life of me steer one. It’s all about adventure and being with your travel mates!

      Tip: Recalibrate your expectations.
      What this means: Chances are, unless you are far more hard core than I am, you are not going to keep the same level of activity on a vacation. Expect to workout lighter and a bit less often.
      How this will help you: Save yourself a headache and don’t miss out on fun. Learn from my terrible plan to continue with my marathon training while in NYC. To try to make this possible, I planned a lengthy subway ride from Astoria to central park, where I anticipated a 26km run followed by a shower at the YMCA in columbus circle before meeting my friends in mid-town. Well, it was hot and humid as hell (see point #1), and I was mildly hungover from a pub crawl the day before.  I ended up running less than an hour. Needless to say, I would have been far smarter to plan for a shorter run and recognize that vacations are for fun with friends, not for panicking about marathons that are months away.

    Consider yourselves informed and advised!

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