Today’s guest blogger is Sian Turner, TriForce’s only XTerra Triathlete. As Sian’s coach I’m always impressed with her ability to go with the flow of her always changing schedule but to train consistently (often at very early hours before flights). Today Sian offers us hints as to how she manages to compete at a very high level despite having to travel very often for work. For more information about Sian, visit her blog.
I have the pleasure (well, maybe not so much) of having a job that forces me to travel on a frequent basis. Trips often come up at short notice and could be to a variety of places in the US, the UK or Asia. As a result, it’s often very hard, well impossible, to stick to a regular training plan. But I’ve learned how to at least maintain some form of fitness when I’m on the road.
Sometime’s I go to some place I’ve been before and it’s the same format, same hotel, same meeting times. So I generally can have a plan; there will either be a safe enough place to run outside or a hotel gym or a 24 hour fitness close enough that I can get to for a run or bike and squeeze it in before meetings whatever time zone I happen to be in. If I’m going for more than a couple of days I try to track down a pool by researching a bit before I go – it doesn’t often work but occasionally I’ve been lucky.
I try to run outside when I travel if I can; that way I can explore the area a bit as well as get a workout but most often the Hampton Inn or equivalent is not in a great area and the only time to run is before it’s light in the mornings. If I’m travelling with other people, they are sometimes runners and I can sometimes drag them out with me but not often. If it’s Houston (I go every 4-6 weeks) then I stick indoors as there are no sidewalks – I have to drive the half mile to the gym which is ridiculous. Often I get a nice surprise and head out running someplace I don’t know and find hoards of other people running the same route (New Orleans had a surprising number of people running along the river) and other times it’s just me getting some very strange looks (Texas and North Carolina don’t appear to have that many runners).
Very occasionally I’ll get to go someplace that is near enough trails to be able to organise a run or Mountain bike ride around meetings – this has happened in Boise and makes the trip much more fun! More often than I’d like there is no hotel gym and no gym anywhere near so I resort to stretching, running round the hotel parking lot before sunrise, utilising the stairs in the hotel (that no one uses or probably even knows exist) to run up and down or creating some kind of hotel room training circuit – I’ll take my TRX and stretch cords pretty much always as they are easy to pack and sometimes even manage to pack my foam roller.
Asia is hard and I have a whole week there in March (Taiwan) – I’m hoping I will find someone to come and run with me but if not I fear it’ll be hotel room circuit training. I could pack my bike and trainer – it’s not something I’ve done yet but I’m now considering it as an option!
Eating is another thing that is very hard to control while travelling. Often it is not your choice where and when you eat so you have to be more flexible than usual. I’m not a particularly fussy eater but don’t like junk food at all (if a burger is the only option I order just burger bread and lettuce, no goopy sauce or pickle. Plane food is usually best avoided unless in an emergency. I never leave home without a good supply of energy/granola bars/nuts – I’ve lost count of the number of times when a Clif bar has been the only meal option. I also eat a lot more than your average person and get super grumpy when hungry so again emergency Clif Bar supplies are essential. I travel most often with my boss who eats like a bird and can go a whole trip fueled solely by starbucks – thankfully Starbucks now serve a decent bowl of oatmeal (although I have been known to order and completely devour 2 bowls at once) so I usually manage.
Sleeping tends to be the last priority and usually mostly gets done on planes – luckily I’m a good plane sleeper and am useless at trying to work or read on a plane so try to take advantage of as much sleep as I can. If you can’t sleep on planes and the meetings are important, it probably makes sense to get enough sleep to keep you awake for the day. My coffee consumption triples when I travel I think!
Hopefully there is some useful advice here for anyone else who has to travel for work – I hope no one has to endure as many hotels and airports as I do: yesterday I was in Seattle, tomorrow I fly to Atlanta via Charlotte, then to Dallas for Friday, getting back close to midnight (thankfully this week is recovery week for me!). Then next Weds and Thurs it’s Houston again. I think the total travel/flight hours add up to at least 36 (and thats without delays which I’m sure will happen somewhere) probably all for no more than 6 or 7 hours total of meetings and I’m not even leaving the US; travel time to Taiwan in a few weeks is not far off 24 hours each way. Hasn’t anyone heard of web conferencing?