Saturday, July 30, 2016

Tips for training while traveling....

I was on the road last week for work, which is always a bit of a challenge when I'm in the midst of some kind of training jiggery-pokery. I think I did a pretty decent job this time, so I thought since I don't have much else to post about right now I'd write about it. I'm sure there are a billion posts like this out there on the internet, but as the Marines say, "There are many like it; this one is mine." As always, your mileage may vary (hahahaha), but maybe someone out there in blog-land might find it helpful one day.

1) I plan ahead. This is non-negotiable for me. If I go on a trip without an actual plan for getting the miles in, almost guaranteed it's not going to happen (or at least not to the extent that it should). This week of travel has been on my calendar for a year and I knew more or less what the schedule would be, so I was able to do some strategizing ahead of time. This meant I didn't have to figure out when, where, & how much I would run on the fly.

For this trip, I knew that I would have a reliable chunk of time each day between 4:00 and 6:30. Monday was my post-long run rest day and Friday I'd be on a plane, so I planned an afternoon run for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Inland SoCal in July tends to be triple digits for a lot of the day, so I planned for treadmill runs. (Thankfully I was staying in the same familiar hotel at always, so I knew the 'mill situation was reliable.)

This was not the hottest day.

2) I set reasonable expectations. Yes, there are trips where it's possible for me to get in exactly what I would have done at home, but they're rare. Over the years I've learned that instead of vowing that I will get up early, research nearby trails, find a public track to drive to, and/or somehow carve out 3-4 free hours for a long run & then beating myself up for not making it happen, I focus on being realistic with my expectations--what I can I absolutely, definitely do without too much extra effort? What can I probably do with a little extra effort?

This past week, I knew my 4-6:30 window was good for a nice chunk of running, but also that it would be following what tend to be intense, draining days, and that I'd also need to have the energy for 6:30-8:00ish dinner meetings afterward. Since I'd just had three 40+ weeks in a row, the timing was right for a cut-back week anyway, so I decided that I could easily run 5 miles in that window, with plenty of time leftover for decompressing/catching up on email before and showering/getting ready for dinner afterwards. With a 6/14 weekend scheduled for when I got home, three 5-mile runs on the road was a) perfect, mileage-wise and b) completely doable.

3) I put on running clothes at the first opportunity. This week I've been getting back to my hotel around 3:45 each day & immediately changing into running clothes before I sit down for 30-45 minutes of catching up on email/other work/general internet decompressing. Then when I'm done, all I have to do is walk out the door. It's an easy thing that makes a big difference at a time of day when I'm not always feeling super high energy.

We meet again, old friend.

4) I tell people ahead of time. I mean. I don't tell them apropos of nothing; just, if people are discussing plans, when we'll be available for various things, etc., I'll just put it out there that "Hey, I'm planning to do my run between ___ and ___, so I can definitely do/check on/deal with [x] before or after if that works." This means that I'm not tempted to interrupt my run or cut it short because I'm stressing about getting back to my computer to check email/do work thing because someone might be waiting for me to do something.

(Note: When I was younger/newer in my career, this kind of boundary-setting was SUPER uncomfortable and scary, but as I've gotten older, more experienced, and just better at boundary-setting in general, it's no big deal. Though jobs are different and I get not everyone will have this luxury. It's also a great tactic for social trips as well, though)

And, I think maybe that's it? Almost always that's enough for a successful travel/training adventure for me. Other tricks I've occasionally employed when necessary include:

  • Getting up early (uuuugggghhhh).
  • Staying up late (UUUUUGGGGHHHH).
  • Sleeping in running clothes when I know I need to get up for a repulsively early run. (Yes, I've done it. Don't judge me.)
  • Shoe-horning in short doubles when the schedule doesn't permit much else (ie, 3-4 miles in the a.m. & 3-4 more in the evening). Not ideal, but better than nothing.
  • Bailing on social-type work events that are not strictly required (again there's "required" and required and jobs work differently so YMMV).
  • Doing an easy run of equal mileage if the treadmill/road/trail situation makes a speed/tempo workout kind of sketchy.
  • In the event of a weekend trip, moving my long run to another day (ie, Friday), and/or running a bunch of days in a row so that I can take said weekend as two back-to-back rest days.
  • Trying to run big weeks before & after & just accept the fact that it's going to be a rest/massive cut-back week & it's not the end of the world.

People have also suggested to me finding a short local race nearby to motivate you on at least one day, or contacting a local running group to see if they have any group runs you could join, but I've never successfully done either of these because a) it seems like a lot of extra work/travel when I'm probably already pressed for time and b) I don't really like people. (Kidding. Sort of. #introvert.)

Have you tried any of these? Any other travel/running tips out there? I am always looking to build my repertoire!


  1. My last big work trip was to San Diego at the end of 2014. It was my first time in CA and I learned that if I'm traveling from TX to CA, I'm going to wake up horrendously early whether I like it or not, which is a good thing if I want to run. I was also lucky to stay in hotels with really nice fitness centers (good treadmills, towel service, etc.) and I was near a downtown area with a popular path on the water. I think it really helps me if I'm able to turn a run into an opportunity to explore a new city (which usually isn't the case on work trips-- I've stayed at several airport hotels before, including the Hyatt at DFW which is literally in the airport. The fitness center has a really cool view of the runway though!)

  2. Love all of these tips and have used many of them while traveling. Planning ahead, having realistic expectations and setting boundaries are definitely key. I've also made run dates with colleagues as a way to stay motivated and get the workout done.

  3. I definitely agree with these tips - especially resigning myself to mostly treadmill runs, because of logistics and fear of getting lost. I actually look forward to getting on the treadmill, because most of my work-related trips have included a lot of sitting in the same room or building for 8-10 hours, so it's nice to get "out" even if I'm not outside.

  4. These are great tips. I've always made use of the hotel fitness center - it's already paid for (or I'm already paying for it)! Mm, also, my number one rule (even when not travelling) is that if I only have time for two miles, just do the two miles. And I nearly always have time for two miles if I don't overthink it.