I really didn’t think I would be going to the Ironman World Championships in Kona this October. And my summer schedule showed it. Pre-planned, extended trips to Europe, San Francisco and Boulder all took place within the meat of my training schedule. And a not-to-be missed trip to Santa Fe is coming up.
Instead of stressing out about how to do all of my training and therefore become a terrible person to travel with, I decided to 1) enjoy each trip to its fullest, 2) take on the challenge of fitting in my Ironman training with an adventurous approach, 3) have confidence in my base and not worry if I missed a workout here or there, and 4) see what I might learn to improve myself as an athlete and a person along the way.
Here’s what I learned:
Morning runs in the place you’re visiting may become the most memorable part of your trip. The city or village is just waking up, the air is clean and fresh and you get to see sights and sounds that get drowned out during the day. After your run, you’re ready for breakfast and feeling great about your effort. Your traveling partners are likely still sleeping or if they’re not, they don’t mind lingering a little while longer over some coffee and the paper. And if you’re lucky to be with someone who might also like a morning run (like my husband Rick), it’s a great way to spend time together.
Hotel gyms exist most places and you can spend just 20 minutes there to cover your main muscle groups. Who’s going to miss 20 minutes of your time? And, it’s likely that you won’t even break a sweat. If facilities are lacking, there are numerous core and strength exercises you can do using just your body weight and maybe some easy-to-pack stretch cords. Since strength training is what I’m most likely to skip when traveling, I am diligent about doing my strength and core work before I leave on a trip and then get back at it as soon as I get home.
Biking while traveling is perhaps the most complicated training to pull off. But, it can be done if you have some determination and a little courage. And, it can be fun as I learned on my solo trip to San Francisco for a couple of family events. I packed my pedals, shoes and helmet along with bike clothing and a water bottle and clothes. I found a bike shop, asked about bike routes and headed out knowing that I could very well get lost. I figured that the worst that could happen is that I would have to ride further than planned or take a bus or a taxi or who knows. I did get lost, but that made me talk to motorists, other cyclists and anyone who might know the area. I finished my ride seeing some wonderful sights, experiencing new territory and feeling proud of my willingness to venture out.
There are some pretty interesting places to swim if you just poke around. On my recent trip to Colorado to get my son settled into CU Boulder, I was able to connect with a friend who suggested a master’s swim at Scott Carpenter pool. I showed up to find a whole crew of professional triathletes including Craig Alexander and Faris Al Sultan, with Jane Scott (Dave Scott’s wife) on deck running the 1:45 hour workout. I ducked my head under water in a free lane next to the fast lane (I didn’t join the Masters group—I’m not that brave!) to watch these athletes perform from an underwater perspective. And I swear I swam faster after picturing their strokes and trying to mimic them in my laps.
How I will do on October 12, is still to be known. But no matter what, I learned how to train during trips and have fun doing it. Importantly, I also learned how to relax and reset if things don’t go exactly as planned. And isn’t that what we need to learn in order to be happy in life and successful at our athletic events? After all, we never know what life or a race will bring you.
Next time you’re on a trip, venture out and see what happens! I now feel much more confident about training outside my comfort zone and I know you will too—with just a little practice.