Staying on track when life gets in the way
By: James English
As a husband, father of 4, part-time lacrosse coach, full-time sales executive and an amateur triathlete who is training for another Ironman this year. I often find myself saying the phrase “the best-laid plans of mice and men…”.
I travel quite frequently for business, last year I ran everywhere from Central Park in NYC, around Dallas Airport in Texas, the Strip in Las Vegas, the coastline of San Francisco and the beach along the North Sea in England. I have to say that my favorite way to explore a lot of the cities I have been to is running around them. This year I ran 13 miles exploring Seattle the evening before a conference. It runs the flight out of my legs, and I get to see the sights and sounds of the cities I travel to. However, it is easy when traveling to not only throw off your exercise routine but also your nutrition and sleep schedule.
After lots of trial and error, I have found some things that have helped me along the way to not only keep on top of my goals but also enjoy my travel.
As the saying goes fail to prepare and you prepare to fail. Before any trip I asses what will be available to me when I travel. How is the hotel gym? Is there a pool nearby for swimming? What will the weather be like? Etc. I then plan what workouts I need to get in at home before or after my trip.
I check apps like Strava to find routes to run to and pack clothing based on the weather and terrain so that I can have effective runs, sometimes it is better to pack trail shoes than road shoes. Some trips I need my Headsweats beanie and a face mask, others I need my Headsweats trucker hat and sunglasses. I also reach out to communities and teams I am part of to see if there are locals who can give me tips or even meet up to run.
The week before my trip I look at my workouts for the week and then plan what I need to adjust for my travel. Are there workouts I need to do before I go or when I get back? Do I need to add additional workouts in if I can’t get to a pool or a bike etc?
When it comes to nutrition I have learned planning avoids failure here. I pack my key nutrition products like baggies of protein powder, BCAA’s, Pre-workout along with protein bars. I also pack a tub of greens that I can mix to make sure I get enough veggies when having to eat out a lot. If only carrying hand luggage make sure you pack all your baggies and bars in one-gallon ziplock and take them out of your carry on like you would liquids to go through TSA.
I have found over the years that I have made plans, prepared well and then life happens. I have flown into a location and found myself in a different situation than I had planned for. One thing to remember is that sometimes a morning workout needs to be an evening workout. More importantly, however, is to not beat yourself up if things don’t pan out. On one trip I thought
that I had found a local pool that was available to me to use. I went on a weekend and found it didn’t open until 9 am, not great when my schedule only allowed for a 6 am start. I adjusted on the fly and switched for another workout so I could go a few days later. When I finally made it to the local pool I found it was warm water, so shallow in places my hands hit the bottom and busy with no organization to lap swimming. I hit 1500M and then could not handle the combination anymore. The moral of this is that no matter how much you try to plan, you will sometimes fail and things will go wrong. All you can do is leave it in the past and move on the next day making adjustments.
My training should be fun and life should be fun. Sometimes you have to live life a little, that may mean eating a big plate of BBQ in Texas or a pizza from that place in NYC with 2000 Yelp reviews. Sometimes it means your workout is riding a bike around Central Park for fun or swimming in the ocean with your family. Sometimes you stay up too late and end up missing that early morning run, it’s okay every once in a while.
In summary, plan as best you can, do your research and give yourself the best chance at success. Be ready to change, adapt, and don’t beat yourself up if things fall apart. Learn from your experiences and keep moving forward.