Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Training While Traveling

I'm Lauren of Failed Muffins...
and I'm pretty psyched to be guest posting for Katie while she's off frolicking on her honeymoon!

If you're like me, you read Katie's posts and think: Wow, that's awesome. Um... I do not have the motivation to bike every morning and then swim....and then lift...and then run... and then....  I am, for the purposes of definition, a recreational runner.  I don't consider myself an athlete, even after 11 half marathons, 2 marathons, 2 16-milers in the most god-awful hilly areas of NH, 2 200-mile relay races, and a random handful of 5ks and 10ks.  Nope.  I'm not an athlete.
This has been a debate for awhile among bloggers and Daily Milers.  What does it take to call yourself a runner, a marathoner, an athlete, a triathlete?  If I were to suck it up and train for a sprint tri, I would not call myself a triathlete, although others may.  Where is that line and who defines it?  I don't really know.  As a recreational runner, I don't train with very specific goals, nor do I mind so much if my pace sucks or if I never negative split.  I mean, it would be NICE to be faster and sometimes I work at pushing my pace...but overall I do not let it dictate my training.  Nevertheless, I totally and completely respect those bloggers who ARE athletes, and I consider Katie to be one of them.
As a recreational runner, I try to stay conditioned and able to run half marathons on a whim.  I like racing, even if my race pace is someone else's recovery run with a broken leg.  But despite the fact that I suck at weight lifting and I don't care about my VO2 max, the running community accepts me.  And that's what I love about you guys.  The best part about blogging, for me, is the community and how supportive we are of one another.  So, thanks for that.  And now...it's my turn to give back!  
I travel pretty frequently for my job.  In fact, I am currently on the road from Boston to the DC-area!  (I swear I am not stalking Katie, I just happen to have an event 20 minutes from her house...)  At least once a month I'm on the road, if not twice or three times during busy season.  Traveling is TORTUROUS if you're a Type A athlete (or just obsessive about your schedule in general).  I have to say, it took some getting used to for me (as I am the schedule-obsessed type), and it was particularly hard when I was marathon training.  Who wants to hit the airport at 6 AM when you're supposed to be running 12 miles?  And what do you do if the hotel only has $17 salads and you're worried about your fiber/protein intake?  
1) PLAN AHEAD and then set a BACKUP PLAN knowing that all your plans are probably worth shit anyway.  Luckily, I'm an event planner so it's easy for me to set 5 alternative schedules to accommodate for all sorts of changes while I'm on the road. 
2) Always pack your running shoes in your carry-on.  If your suitcase is lost and you have to replace your clothes/toiletries for the trip, at least you know you have your $95 running shoes by your side.
3) If you're staying at a hotel, check ahead of time if their fitness room is open 24-hours.  If it's not, then you need to plan ahead for early morning workouts.  If you're not a morning person, it sucks to be you.
4) Check Google Maps, Map My Run, running forums, etc if you're traveling to an unfamiliar place.  I like to do shorter runs (3-5 miles) outside of the hotel if possible.  Ask the front desk to hold your room card, but carry your phone on the run, just in case.
5) Ok, but how do you eat healthy while traveling?  Pack food.  Pack a LOT of food.  I'm not joking about this.  On one of my last (four day) trips, I packed the following in my checked bag: apples, protein bars, granola bars, baggies of raisins/peanuts, a small container of peanut butter, packets of hot chocolate, instant oatmeal, tea, and several bags of dried fruit.  I ate all of this.  If there is fruit set out in the hotel lobby, STOCK UP.  If you're at an event with complimentary breakfast, definitely grab any whole fruit possible.  Yogurt is also a great score, especially if there is a fridge in your hotel room.  If at any point free food is offered to you, STOCK UP...but only on the condition that it is healthy.
I keep my packed snacks on me at all times, because I know that when hunger hits I am fallible and may cave to the free cookies and craptastic food offered at work events.  If I'm going to cave to bad food, I make a choice of what it will be and I limit myself to one (if possible, but obviously I am far from perfect).  I remind myself of the following: eating too much junk makes me feel sick the next day, and eating too much junk makes me feel too lazy to exercise.  Even if it is impossible to sneak away to work out, at least I know I can control what I eat and feel good about that.
6) You're supposed to cross train but the hotel fitness center is closed?  I write down interval circuits of 5-6 activities each that I can do in my hotel room: lunges, squats, core work, and intense cardio that can be done in place.  Do 20 second intervals with 10 seconds of rest, repeating each circuit twice.  Take 60 seconds of rest when it's time to change circuits.  You'll sweat after 40 minutes and at least you'll know you did your best with what you could work with.
7) Pack a lot of workout clothes.  Luckily, spandex doesn't wrinkle and you can stuff it into the corners of your suitcase.  Always pack plenty of socks in case you have to split your workout into parts to fit around a conference schedule.  Pack a light windbreaker that rolls up if there's a possibility of inclement weather.  Just think about all the possibilities and make sure you've planned for what you can.  Although...shit happens and it might not make a difference.
8)  Let go.  That is the hardest thing to tell an athlete, so thank goodness I'm just a recreational runner.  Let go.  Let go of your pre-planned, color-coded training schedule.  Sometimes it just can't happen.  That might suck, but if the trip is only a couple days long, you'll be ok.  If you're traveling for a week or more, then go back to my first suggestion (PLAN AHEAD AND MAKE MANY ALTERNATIVE PLANS JUST IN CASE).  Otherwise, just let go.  Be easy on yourself if don't complete an 8 mile tempo run because it's pouring outside and the two hotel treadmills are in use.  Everything will be ok.
This is not what you should be eating while you're on the road.

Oh, and if you're a triathlete, I have no idea what to say to you.  It's hard to swim with no access to water and to cycle without a bike.  
I blog about general training (and race training, when applicable) along with all sorts of random topics at Failed Muffins.  Come say hi!

9 comments:

  1. My favorite part of this whole post is the "Oh, and if you're a triathlete, I have no idea what to say to you." Bahahahahaha great guest post Lauren!

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  2. I'm glad I don't have to travel a lot for work, but I'm sad that when I do I don't get a chance to eat pizza in a box that is almost as tall as I am. That looks amazing! I also think you should have included a photo of your snack spread. I'm sure it's equally impressive. :) On a more serious note, these are great tips!

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  3. I second what Morgan had to say. Ha! (And thanks for the good tips, of course.)

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  4. Thanks, guys! That pizza was RIDICULOUS! We ordered TWO and there were 70 pieces in EACH. Also, the second pizza wasn't cut by the pizza place, so some of our crew hacked at it with switchblades. It was super classy.

    It's true my spread is pretty crazy--lots o' apples, an orange, craisins, raisins, and granola bars left!

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  5. Great tips! I am all about packing food, everywhere I go! I get a lot of funny looks, but I don't care! I eat healthy and don't spend a lot of $$:). Haha, that pizza picture is hilarious!:)

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  6. Love this! So many great ideas, especially the interval circuit workout in your hotel room! Genius!! I also need to be better about packing food. So much better and cheaper! Great post and I agree, that pizza pic is amazing!

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  7. Great post! I am glad to know that I am not the only person that travels with a mini supermarket when they travel. It is so much nicer than eating nasty crap everywhere. #3 pretty much sums it up for me. I guess there is no secret to mornings.

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  8. "If you're not a morning person, it sucks to be you." LOL... I'm with SquirrelHead, where's that secret?

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  9. Awesome post. I love exploring new cities on the run and usually plot out some routes a head of time (or reach out to a local running club).

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