The Pros and Cons of Travel while Training

Over the last few years, I’ve had the misfortune of traveling a lot for work. I’ve gotten to see a number of cities, or at least their airports, a few amazing restaurants, and some of the most average conference rooms in there world. In my current job, my travel, while still happening weekly, involves a train rather than a plane, and usually gets me home the same day (even if it feels like a week later).

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Thankfully, I’ve not once woken up to this. Image from drafthouse.com

This week, I’m beginning what is really 3 months of travel that is a nice mix of business and personal travel. During that time, I’ve got 4 races for which I’m already registered, and inevitably a few more thrown in, all culminating in the Walt Disney World Marathon presented by Cigna in January. My first full marathon!

I’ve trained for my last few races while traveling a lot, and while I’m not an expert (for that advice, read this great Q&A with Matt Fitzgerald), I see travel during training as having positives and negatives.

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Image from blog.jugnoo.com

Pros:
– You tend to focus on planning more than you do at home. You have to pack, so while you’re doing it, you can plan your workouts and pack healthy snack options. I like to pack pre-measured oatmeal packs, protein powder, and low sugar energy bars. My favorites are Picky Bars.

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– You can explore your surroundings while you’re getting your workouts in! This weekend I put out a call for ideas on Twitter of where to run in Baltimore and got several ideas for routes. Depending on where you’re going and where you’re staying, check with the hotel to see if they have any running routes (Westin hotels even offer New Balance gear for rent so you don’t have to pack your own), use websites (or apps) like MapMyRun to find local routes, or find a local running store that holds group runs and join one.
– You’re away from home, sometimes that’s good. If you’re traveling alone, but have a family, you might even have more time than normal to focus on your training. You are also likely in new territory, literally. If there are hills, and you don’t normally run them, do some hill work. If you’re forced to run on a treadmill, do speed work. Try running with no watch, or no music. Use it as an opportunity to do something you normally can’t, or don’t think to do.

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– If you’re away for only a day or two, use it as a chance to let your body recover. Do some hotel room yoga, do some cross-training, or just take a day off. Sometimes the best thing you can do for your body is give it time to recover. It’s important to remember not to go nuts with the mini-bar, take advantage of room service too much, or over indulge at a work dinner, especially if you decide to take it as a recovery day. You still have to fuel your body properly for recovery.

Cons:
– Work trips can easily mean you have less time than normal, you’re working in a different time zone, and fitting in a workout means deciding between sleep or running. Sleep is important, but don’t let it take over your training. Find a balance, and the nearest Starbucks.
– Travel can also put you at a higher risk for catching a virus. Colds are notorious for hitting me 2 days into a work trip. Planes are disgusting. Carry a small pharmacy and lots of vitamins with you so you can ward it off, or treat it.
– Dining out is rarely healthier than eating at home. But there are almost always healthier options. Hint: allergies are an easy way, even with a pre-determined menu, to get a healthier option. My inability to eat dairy always ends with me having a healthier meal than my colleagues.
– Workout clothes and running shoes take space. Truth. Learn how to pack tightly, and even get some vacuum bags if necessary, but trust me, the easiest way to not stick to training, is to not bring anything with you to wear to train.
– If you’re traveling for pleasure, fitting in your training can be tough. Who wants to get up early to fit in training when you can finally sleep in? Let everyone else sleep in most of the trip, and go get in a quick run. Then, when you do sleep in, you’ll enjoy it even more.

Traveling makes things difficult and you have to plan, then follow through with it, but if you use it to your advantage, your training will stay on track.

What’s your best piece of travel training advice?
What do you find most difficult when you travel while you’re training?
What is your favorite place to do a training run that isn’t your normal run?

3 thoughts on “The Pros and Cons of Travel while Training

  1. Westin hotels is where it’s at! What kicked them into running gear? I agree- I plan more when I travel and make sure I’m hydrated/eating well versus when I’m at home but as far as finding safe/good routes… that is non-existent when traveling, for me at least!

    • Its definitely a huge help! I also wear layers on flights so I can fit my sneakers if I don’t wear them. This trip I drove, so it was more an issue of what I could carry out to my car in one trip!

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