Traveling and Training

Guest Blogger Jennifer Hardy

Flying on a plane far away from home to a place full of snowy mountains, a nice glass of red wine, good company with friends and family – oh and training for a race. Hmm…that last one doesn’t seem to fit that sentence but fortunately or unfortunately, runners often need to train during holidays and vacations because most training cycles typically last between 12-24 weeks, most of them running in the 18 week range (for a marathon). I am about to embark on a trip to Germany, which falls in two training cycles for me: Kaiser Half Marathon (Feb 4th) and Oakland Half Marathon (March 25th).

For me, traveling while training has become a normal routine as I travel abroad at least once a year and so I have compiled some tips that I have developed along the way, as well as some advice from our amazing ambassadors.

The good, the bad, the weather

As runners, we are already semi-obsessed (I’m obsessed) with checking theweather before taking off on a run. For traveling, this is more important because you might need to buy some new clothing or accessories in order to fight off the elements. In California, 35 degrees (F) is cold (for me that is!), and calls for tights, long sleeves, and maybe a hat. In Germany, snow and cold temps are in the forecast and so thicker pants and layering are important. I’ve actually been using advice from a fellow ambassador, Eric Jorgensen, who wrote a blog about training in the winter here.

These are items that I am packing to fight off the elements during workouts:

1. Tights

2. Capris

3. Long sleeve shirts and thermals

4. Beanie

5. Gloves

6. Scarf

7. Reflective clothing /head lamp (sun goes down earlier in winter)

Where did the time go?

Time zone changes can be reason enough for some of us to forgo workouts and take it easy. But actually, according to several articles, being active is one of the best ways in fighting off jetlag. When I was in Ireland this past summer, I signed up for a 10K in order to fight off jetlag and also to have some fun. It definitely wasn’t my fastest race but it got me moving, awake, and more adjusted to the time change.

I think an important factor to this is intensity of workouts. For example, if I were to schedule a long run only two days after arriving in Germany, I might feel miserable doing so. But if I schedule a 3-4 miler for the first few days, I’ll be doing my body a favor. Therefore, I only plan long runs after a full week of being in a new destination so that my body can adjust. Look at the eHow article for more tips on combating jetlag.

The family and the sights Sometimes, it seems impossible to schedule in a run while traveling because of the people and plans around us. There might be a full day outing with the family (which is exhausting in itself) or you might be moving around to more new places where working out in the outdoors might not be ideal or safe. Here are some things I take into perspective:

1. Before I leave on my trip, I try to scope out all the places I will be visiting in order to see if running is a possibility.

2. If running is a possibility, I try to take someone with me so that I feel safe and more motivated. If I’m alone, I always bring a map with me or in some places I would rent a bike first and scope out if it is a “runner friendly” area.

3. If running is not a possibility because of plans or location, then I try to squeeze in a workout that does not require a lot of…well…work. There are other things I can do to workout such as using therabands for my core or doing sit-ups. Other ambassadors have also incorporated other cross training activities such as yoga, Crossfit, and more.

4. If I am going on a day trip, I use walking as my workout by using the stairs more. This isn’t hard to do in many places in Europe. I might also opt in for a more active “sightseeing” activity (i.e., kayaking, snow hiking).

5. I make sure to adjust my training schedule to ensure that any critical workouts (long runs/tempos) are still somewhere in the plan but might be moved. Of course, we can’t necessarily makeup workouts but this is a sacrifice we make when traveling.

Finally, I rarely ever change travel plans because of a missed workout. I always put my family/friends and places to visit as a priority since this is a vacation and I might not ever return to this place.

With proper planning and perspective, training while traveling should be successful and might turn out to be a lot of fun. I trained for a half marathon in New Zealand for a few weeks, which ended up giving me my half marathon PR. Who knows what these places can unlock for you. In addition, running in new places is a great way of getting to know a new place. But proper planning is crucial in making this endeavor safe and successful.

Happy holidays and happy training =D

Jennifer Hardy is a university lecturer from San Francisco. She has run the San Francisco Marathon two times and has ran over 50 races, including an ultra marathon. If you’re interested in training/talking with Jennifer, tweet her.

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