On Challenges and Strategies for TWT (Training While Traveling)

While many of us have the dream of becoming professional athletes – with our days consisting of nothing more than training, eating, sleeping, and watching back-to-back seasons of CSI or Mad Men – not all of us have the genetics to allow for us to realize this dream.

For the rest of us, we have to work to support our running habits.

And while balancing work, family, and a marathon training schedule may be difficult, doing so with a work schedule that demands a significant amount of travel time can be even moreso.

I’m fortunate to work in public health, and have a job that allows me to earn a living while also helping underserved populations. It is also a job that requires anywhere between 50-75% of travel. This schedule can make it tough to adhere to any training regimen that calls for consistency and a commitment to get in a predetermined # of miles within a very specific heartrate/pace. So I have had to develop a couple of key strategies to ensure that I stick to my training while I’m on the road. (Important note: These strategies are not just for athletes/long distance runners! they can be helpful to anyone looking to maintain fitness while being on the road for an extended period of time!)

Strategy #1: Look at your schedule, find a time of day that works for you to train, and stick with it:

A lot of my travel involves attending conferences and meetings that may take up the bulk of the day. For me, I’ve found that training in the early morning works best. I know that if I wait until after a day jam-packed with presentations meetings, and strategic planning that I will likely be WAAAY too exhausted by the afternoon/evening to commit to anything other than pizza.

(vegetarian of course)

And so I commit to waking up however early I need to in order to get in at least 1.5 hours worth of training. This means sometimes getting up at 4am.

I know.

But it’s worth it – and it’s what I need to do in order to get my training in. Plus, it is a fantastic energy boost to get you through a long day. Just be sure to bring along an extra cup of coffee (or tea, or whatever Energy Drink will best keep you from falling out of your chair for a snoozefest during that important meeting with the CDC).

Strategy #2: You’re in a new area – EXPLORE!

Over the past year, I’ve been able to visit parts of the US and beyond that I have never seen before. And I don’t know about you all, but I would rather count the dust mites on the hotel room floor than spend a minute on a treadmill. Why confine yourself to the hotel gym? Instead use this opportunity to explore this new area on foot – search up a local park or rail-to-trail, and get in some quality miles! This has let me find some absolutely gorgeous trails in new locations in in Massachusetts, South Carolina, Texas, Georgia, Minnesota – and truly appreciate what the community has to offer.

Murphey Candler Park in Chamblee, GA

Strategy #3: Be Innovative!

OK, so I completely acknowledge that there will be times when Mother Nature or other unforeseen elements throw a monkey wrench into your plans. Take this past week for example: I had to travel to Minneapolis for a conference. I checked the weather beforehand and it said it would be 50 degrees and *sunny*(!) the entire week. I packed accordingly.

It was 30 degrees and snowy.

I was able to get out for a couple of runs in this weather, but by the last day the temperature had dropped even further. Given my aforementioned aversion to the treadmill, I opted for an old standby workout:

The hotel stairwell.

A.k.a. workout of last resort.

That’s right – running stairs is an absolutely great cross training workout for runners and cyclists alike. It builds quads, glutes – and mental toughness.

Just make sure you have some good tunes to get you through it.

What strategies do you have for staying fit and training on the road? I’d love to hear them!

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Rachel

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About runforair

Husband and wife team dedicated to raising awareness of conservation efforts through trail running - and occasional cycling - adventures. Interested in supporting global conservation efforts? Check out the website of the award-winning, globally recognized Alliance for International Reforestation (AIR) to learn more and donate today!
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