Surviving Travel, Staying Fit
I’ve been, as you may have guessed, traveling a lot this season. And the past two years. And the past decade. And with travel comes the constant struggle to stay somewhat in shape—or at least, not go too crazy on the frites on days I’m sitting around in airports. That also means keeping up on exercise.
Now, I love cycling. It’s my passion, my life, my reason for getting up in the morning. But I’m a professional cycling writer, not a racer. So that means when I wake up excited about cycling, that doesn’t necessarily mean that I get to ride a bike. The last two years (this originally read ‘weeks’ back when I started this draft… whoops!) are the perfect example of this conundrum.
And so, the race has been on to find ways to stay motivated and stay in shape while on the road. Over the last two years, I’ve started to come up with a few somewhat easy ways to keep moving even when time is tight, bikes aren’t available and motivation is low. (Some of this is actually from a draft from two years ago—and it’s still true!)
Short runs: This is my go-to for busy days, especially ones that have travel on the agenda. I don’t have all day to focus on travel and training like a pro athlete would. The travel and training are on top of getting stories turned in, so that means sometimes, time is tight. Still, I know I won’t feel as good if I don’t get in some kind of workout: I actually end up more tired, and definitely grumpier. So I’ve found that in these time-crunch days, just getting out for a 20-40 minute run is still amazing. Even in hotels on a treadmill, 20 minutes is usually something I can sneak in. I hate treadmills, and I think being outside is the best cure for the mental/tiredness issue, though, so unless the weather really sucks, I try to run outside.
Point-to-Point Runs: I usually don’t have my bike, which is a sad fact. If I did, this would be something I’d likely opt to use the bike for, but in most cases, I like doing destination runs. For example, I was in Chicago with a rental car due back the day before I flew to Belgium. So for that day’s training, I drove the car back to the rental place as empty as possible, then ran the 6 miles back to the motel. The roads were sketchy and it wasn’t the most fun I’ve had on a run, but at least I a) got in the run, and b) saved time and money. A cab to the hotel would have been pricey and with traffic, may have taken longer than my run did, and the time I’d spend in a cab and then doing a run would have made the day much longer.
Long runs: I’ve been trying to go long at least once every couple weeks, usually for 2-3 hours. I tend to do this while Peter is on a weekend ride wherever we are, or it’s an off day for the other athletes, and it works out super slick. If I’m with Peter, he rides while I run in a park, we meet back at the car, and I’m totally wiped out.
Yoga: I love the occasional yoga class, and I’m really liking trying to find good ones in each city that we go to. (I even found one in Girona, Spain, last week that was taught in English, and it turned out I knew the instructor!) Yoga classes are cool, when the instructor is good, because it’s always something new from city to city, and I usually walk away with a new skill, stretch or thought for the day. Bookend that with running to and from class and I’m psyched.
Walking: I wrote about Peter and my trip to Ireland last year and how we spent most of the trip doing long walks and hikes instead of runs, and I still recommend this anytime. So does Katy Bowman, who did an awesome job explaining why this is great on our Consummate Athlete podcast! We try to walk at least once a day when we’re home in addition to our normal workouts, and I’m trying to add that in, especially on days when I’m just not feeling like training. After a long run on Sunday, Monday was a great example of this we ran 3 miles downtown from our AirBNB and then got coffee, worked for a bit on our phones, and then walked the same way back home. It was the perfect short run / long walk combination, and just enough activity. Plus, walking is great for tight hips, which is something I definitely deal with!
Weighted walks: We also call this ‘grocery shopping.’ Seriously. It’s strangely a huge gamechanger for your workouts and overall fitness.
Planks: When all else fails and I have no time, I stick to my morning routine of five minutes of planks, a few core exercises and a 5 minute yoga routine that I’ve done daily for the last 15 months. Not exactly a full workout, but it’s at least a bit of core strength and leaves me feeling mildly accomplished for the day.
Wild Card: The last thing I’ll do is try to find a fun new activity. I’ll hunt down a public pool and swim laps (that one isn’t too wild) or I’ll try to find a funky class with something I’ve never tried: I’ve done Parkour and Aerial Silks in the past couple months and had a great time at both!
What do you do to stay in shape on the road?