In a perfect world, this would be my ideal triathlete day:
- Wake up
- Go back to sleep
- Wake up again
- Train with super effective trainer following my program exactly and setting new PBs
- Eat delicious meals someone else made me
- Race cars
- Train again with a different super effective trainer
- Eat more delicious meals
- Have a celebrity entertain with jokes or music or something (like Arnold Schwarzenegger singing "Kiss from a Rose")
- [Adult content]
- Eat even more delicious meals
- Go to sleep
But guess what? It is not a perfect world. Far from it! And triathlete training requires (gah...) a degree of flexibility, sometimes, when life seems to get in the way.
And flexibility in training (at least in my experience) is a triathlete's nightmare. It feels like you're just flipping a coin with your race prep. I mean, Sunday is long run day every Sunday no matter what right?!
Enter the travelling training circus that is business and leisure trips. What is an aspiring Ironman to do when duty calls and a continent, an ocean, and 7 airports separates him from his beloved bike trainer?
Honestly, I'm not too sure. So here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to make a plan:
Step 1: Timing
Everyone always says this, but early mornings really are the best way to make sure you get your workout in without life getting in the way. Even more so when travelling. Particularly leisure travelling. Why? Because you know how you want to sleep in oh-so-bad? Well so does everyone else! That means if you're up earlyish, you're extra alone to be able to do your training and not skip a beat. And every vacation deserves an afternoon nap, so why not earn it in the morning?
(Pro tip: get confused by time zones so you're running an hour early by mistake. Not only will you really be alone on the early morning treadmill, but you'll be fashionably early for everything throughout the day.)
Step 2: Facilities and Gear
I've already looked ahead to see what is available, what I need to bring, and what I can afford to leave behind. I know if there's a pool or a treadmill. I know if I can rent a bike. I know if the hotel provides "workout clothes" or if I need to figure out how to pack my size 12.5s into my tiny carry on bag. By knowing ahead of time I can reduce the surprises that ultimately lead to "not today".
Step 3: Surroundings
Where are the good bike routes? How about a scenic running trail? Well fortunately the Internets has all of those answers and more. I've scooped a few, and I also don't mind getting lost. The hardest steps are always the first two out of the hotel lobby (or any steps on ice). I have a direction in mind and my Garmin has a compass (and a "get me home" button).
Step 4: The Inevitable
Late dinners, boozy lunches, midnight donairs and whatever else may turn up. It's going to happen. So my plan? To make sure that I'm moving my body somehow, someway, every day. To walk, to skip, to dance, to stretch, to do whatever I can whenever I can to avoid lounging excessively and, if the inevitable should happen, to not be too hard on myself, but to make time to make it up.
Step 5: Accountability
To myself, and only myself, and here's how that looks:
- Run: At least once every two days.Be it for 2 hours or 20 minutes, I need to run;
- Cycle: At least once for longer than one hour inside, or two hours outside. More if possible;
- Swim: Laps in the leisure pool is lame (because you look like a tool). But just being in the water allows you to work on buoyancy, stroke length, catch technique all without having to do endless laps. So get in the water and work on "feel";
- Stretch: Every day. I have to stretch every day;
- Eat: Have fun, but be smart. Salads over fries, short glass doubles over high calorie pina coladas, limit the sugar and the butter and increase the fibre;
- Enjoy: Rest is important too. Intensity is an attitude which works equally as well for sprints as for meditation.
Step 6: To Ease Back In
No matter what I do, travelling will set me behind in my training for the week. Knowing this, I can't just "hit the ground running" upon my return home. I have to be smart, I have to acknowledge that travel time disrupts my groove and I have to get back to it as soon as possible while staying injury free.
And so ladies and gentlemen, my acronym for my travel plans is: RCSSEE! Catchy, isn't it? Wish me luck.