Keeping Fit on the Fly

When I’m not running or otherwise flitting about San Francisco, I can often be found on planes. I travel a lot – internationally for my job, all over the place for pleasure, and these days I get excited when I realize I have two straight weeks at home. While this lifestyle can be exciting at times, it definitely takes a toll on my workout and training schedule. Weekends spent on planes instead of on leisurely long runs pose a challenge.

I actually started writing this blog on a flight to the Philippines – not uncommon for me as of late/ I’ve struggled to keep on track with my workouts and general well-being, so I thought given the large number of travelers out there in the SF blogosphere, I’d take a moment to discuss what I’m working on to improve my health (and running) while traveling.

Explore on foot

Sightseeing time when traveling is often a precious commodity. If I have time to explore, I have a mandatory rule that that be an active activity. Maybe not a run, but at least on foot, or even a bike. An hour of walking around a city is not much, but much better for my health than sitting all day and then passing out from exhaustion at the end of it. But I need to be careful to mind cultural norms not only in terms of appropriate clothing, but also other rules of respect (apparently it’s illegal to jog through a certain overseas American cemetery, for example).

Keep routine – or break it

Keeping on a routine is one of the first pieces of advice we all hear when it comes to travel. If that’s possible – awesome. Keep your 6 mile run at 6am or what have you. Sometimes, if you’re working overnight or generally off hours, your routine is by necessity thrown off. That’s my situation, and I’m working on embracing it. Wide awake at 2am and the hotel gym is 24 hours? Hit the treadmill! Less than ideal, but I’m trying to get more creative when I travel in terms of what I generally consider “normal” times and places to work out.

Prioritize nutrition

Sleep, healthy eating, and exercise – so simple, yet so complicated. Eating healthy is one of the biggest challenges of normal life – when overseas or in an otherwise unfamiliar area, the challenge multiplies. When I travel, I’m doing my best to avoid junk food – as tempting as something sugary and starchy can seem during a 16 hour day – and focus on protein and good nutrition. Sometimes that means a healthy meal – other times it means carrying Builders Bars with me at all times. Either way, I’m really working on focusing on attrition.

The great debate

The Sleep vs. Exercise battle is a big one. Some of us will settle for exhaustion on a few hours of sleep in order to get our workout in, knowing that we’ll feel more energized overall from the workout versus a few more rounds of the snooze button. Others can’t drag themselves out of bed if they haven’t gotten enough shut-eye. My college self was in the former camp, but in my “old age” I’ve moved to the latter group. And what does that mean? Prioritize sleep – it can’t always happen, but I spend a lot of time, traveling or not, doing things MUCH less productive than getting some extra hours in. everything comes back to sleep, so I definitely need to do a better job of planning for it.

Go easy on yourself

Traveling can take a toll on your body and mind – sometimes you won’t get in everything you planned to. That’s okay – do your best, and be sure to get right back in it when you get home. Nothing kisses jetlag goodbye like a nice long run – after 12 straight hours of sleep.

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