Training While Traveling

Who doesn’t want training tips and advice? I’m always looking for new ways to make routines efficient and I’ve asked a good friend of mine to share a bit of his Ironman training experience with us. A native Atlantan, Patrick now resides in New York City where he works in the advertising industry. A lifelong runner, he entered the sport of triathlon in 2011, competing in four races including Ironman 70.3 Providence. Amazeballs. Currently he is training for Ironman Mont Tremblant and also plans to run the New York City Marathon.

Training On The Go
A few weeks ago I embarked on a trip to Turkey with a couple of friends from college. I love to travel, however, I’m currently training for an Ironman triathlon, and that is one thing from which I can’t take a complete break. I’m used to maintaining a workout schedule while traveling within the U.S., but heading 5,000 miles across 7 time zones to a foreign country was a whole different ballgame. Sans bike, I aimed to get in some running, swimming and weight workouts while in Turkey. Overall, it wasn’t too difficult, but I did learn a few things about training while traveling overseas.

Not much is needed for running and swimming. I typically reserve my running shoes for running only, but in this case I cheated a bit, saved some room in my suitcase and used them as my primary shoes for walking around Istanbul and Bodrum. Woolite Travel Packs allowed me to bring one set of workout clothes and wash them in the sink.

Jet Lag
When traveling internationally, or even cross-country within the U.S., jet lag is going to be a problem. Having traveled overseas quite a bit I have developed my own system of getting over it, but I must warn you that I’m the son of a former Delta flight attendant, so I think I’m genetically programmed to overcome jet lag easily. If you can sleep on planes, try to time your sleep with that of your destination country. If you’re flying east you’ll sleep towards the end of your flight, west will find you snoozing at the beginning.

Pack a couple of PB&Js in case you miss the meal (which will probably suck) as well as some other snacks like nuts, oatmeal (ask the flight attendant for hot water) and Clif bars. Drink at least one glass of water every hour on the plane, as the dry air of a pressurized cabin accelerates dehydration. Upon landing I stay up, no matter how tired I am or what time I arrived, until about 10 PM local time. By then I’m so exhausted I fall right asleep and usually sleep through the night. The next morning I get up and run. It gets me going, and there are studies starting to emerge that indicate that exercise helps fight jet lag.

The Workouts
Finding running routes can be tricky as I’m often staying in the middle of a busy metropolitan area that’s not ideal for training. To alleviate that problem I recommend running early in the morning when the streets are less crowded and traffic is minimal. Tip – use your workouts as a chance to see a new place in a way that other tourists don’t. There’s nothing like the feeling of running in a new and foreign place, seeing the sunrise over Hagia Sophia (or the Colosseum or the Eiffel Tower) and feeling like you have the city to yourself because it hasn’t woken up yet. Bring some cash to buy water along the way.
As for swimming, we were on the coast for part of the trip so a few early morning swim workouts in the crystal blue waters of the Mediterranean were welcome and refreshing! One of the hotels we stayed in also had a well-equipped gym. I recommend calling/e-mailing ahead and asking what equipment they have. After we left that hotel, lifting still wasn’t too much of an issue, because that’s where good ole fashioned pushups, pull-ups, plyometrics and core work come into play. You can do those anywhere with a little creativity.

This was the biggest challenge I faced. Fueling for an Ironman isn’t easy, and my calorie intake is typically between 3,500 – 6,000 calories per day. The food in Turkey was great, but finding healthy snacks that wouldn’t mess with my digestive system was a problem. Too often I found myself buying ice cream bars because they were cheap, readily available and would give me a quick boost when my glycogen levels dropped. Breakfast isn’t as important of a meal in Turkey as it is in the U.S. It was very tough to find something substantial to get me going in the morning. I also noticed that I couldn’t pare my calorie intake back as much as I thought because we did a LOT of walking during the day. I found myself constantly hungry, and the quality of my workouts suffered a bit.

In retrospect I would have brought a lot more food with me. I would have brought oatmeal for breakfast (easy to pack, easy to make!), almonds, some other snacks and recovery food. That small change would have kept my energy level more constant, and I wouldn’t have lost 2 lbs. on the trip.

And I Would Have Changed…
Overall, the name of the game is planning. If you plan to incorporate workouts while you’re traveling, give some thought to the logistics and stay flexible you’ll be able to make it work with relatively few bumps along the way.

What tips have you discovered for incorporating your workouts while traveling?

And if you have any questions for the pro, you can give him a shout out here.

9 responses to “Training While Traveling

  1. I love this post!! It’s always so interesting (and informative) to read about other athleted coping with training and traveling. I wish I could be as motivated when traveling…I guess a triathalon would change that 😉

    • It is fascinating to see what others go through, I’m definitely diggin the oatmeal trick!

      I think I can be good 1/2 of vacation but then I typically fall of the wagon:) Moderation!

  2. Great guest post and tips! That is pretty impressive to take a fun, exotic holiday like that during Ironman training.
    One of my favourite parts of travelling is running to explore the locale.
    Good luck in the IM- I really wanted to compete in that one, but logistically the Penticton one (Ironman Canada) made more sense.

  3. I’d love to get to Turkey! I love the Med, and I bet swimming in the sea was a great change from a gym pool or aquatic center. 🙂 I have washed clothes in the sink while traveling, but it wasn’t planned. washing for workouts > washing due to lost luggage

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