How to Stick to Your Running Routine as a Frequent Traveler
Runners like to travel. We like to get outside, run new routes, explore new places, meet new people. Destination running broadens our horizons and helps us extend our limits. We are the Modern Day Explorers. We conquer new towns, new cities, new countries, new continents. We may not plant our national flag every time we nail that previously unexplored route or race. Instead, nowadays we stick pics of our bling or tired selfies on social media for all to see: We came, we saw, we conquered. Yes, runners are brave explorer souls.
We got the running and the exploring-new-places bit covered. But the problem is that scary, iffy grey bit. The actual traveling bit. Getting up at 3am to catch a flight at 5am. Hanging around airports on layovers, or driving for 14 hours straight to get to you destination without wasting more days en route. We get tired and hangry and soon the last thing on our minds is enjoying a nice run around a new neighborhood. No. We want sugar and a glass of wine and pizza and sleep. Lots of sleep. Leaving your comfort zone for days or weeks on end can be very taxing on mind and body, especially if you travel frequently for work. But running, as we know, is always the answer, no matter what the question is.
Sticking to your running routine while traveling will be easier once running is a habit. The habit prevents you from succumbing to that little voice telling you that it is too late, too early, too cold, too wet or that you are too tired, hungry or busy. No discussion, you will run. Of course, there are a few things that will make sticking to your running routine easier.
Know what to expect
Knowing what to expect regarding the weather (is it hot, cold or humid, when is the rainy season), availability of healthy food options and safe drinking water, possibilities for running routes and their safety is important. Don’t get caught without your trusty running rain jacket because you expected it to be sunny all week in London, or opt not to pack your hydration vest for a trip to hot, humid Tanzania. Google is your friend – use it well!
Adapt and be flexible
A little planning ahead will seal all your good intentions. Revise your training plan to best fit your easier traveling days. After driving all day you probably won’t feel like going for a run, but a few minutes of dynamic stretching every two hours en route will make all the difference. That being said, the easiest way to get over your driving or flying stiffness and is to hit the road for a few easy miles.
Have long layovers while flying? This doesn’t mean you have to slouch on a couch for hours on end. Many airports now have fitness centers where you can enjoy anything from a run on a treadmill to a yoga class. In transit gyms usually have clothing and gear for rent as well. Airports such as Cleveland Hopkins Airport and Baltimore-Washington International Airport even have marked out walking trails up to 1.4mi long.
If you plan to run while on a quick overnight stop, pack your running kit in an easy-to-access separate bag or luggage organizer. Don’t lose what little motivation you had left having to dig for socks. Be sure to include all gels, hydration equipment, hats or jackets in your easy-access stash so you can get moving as soon as you want to.
Maintaining your usual healthy nutrition while traveling is desirable but not always possible. Again, with a little planning and foresight we don’t have to surrender to the omnipresent carb-fests encountered at airports or at convenience stores along the road. Make a habit of always choosing the freshest option, such as salads or fruits, and keep loads of your favorite healthy snacks nearby to curb blood sugar drops. Snacks to consider are raw tree nuts, kale chips, beef jerky or wheat-free crackers.
Many times we don’t realize how severely dehydrated we get during traveling, especially while air traveling. Add to that the drinks we consume, alcohol or the sugary, carbonated types, and you go from bad to worse. Keeping yourself well-hydrated will mean more energy, better sleep and will most surely help you stick to your running routine. Choose water every time and remind yourself to drink often.
Being away from home for extended periods, whether for work or play, can be demanding. You miss the comforts of your usual surroundings and sleep isn’t what it is supposed to be on a strange bed every night. Remember to be kind to yourself. After a hard day’s work in a foreign land, you DO deserve that cold beer. So why not put one on ice and go for a run before enjoying your reward, now doubly earned!
Probably the most important piece of advice on how to stick to your running routine while traveling frequently is to choose your travel mates well (if you have that option). Be grateful for your companion if she/he encourages you to run, cheers you on, runs with you or muscles you out the door on days when you just don’t feel up to it. The only thing better than exploring a new place on the run is to do it in good company.