Nov 16 2017
I am typing this on the flight from Minneapolis to Phoenix, and this post will be a recap of what exercise I have been able to do, as well as how I plan to train for the remainder of the trip. I feel that being able to train through travel is an essential skill for me, and I have learned how to deal with it in the years trying to be competitive rowing in the Masters competition while doing this job with its high travel requirements.
First, travel is disruptive and one has to acknowledge that. One should treat it a bit like sickness. Travel work days are long and intense, and often involve late dinners, low quality of sleep as well as a need to remain on top of developments on the home front. This means that energy is often low and there is little time to do full training sessions.
Second, travel means being away from boat, erg and well equipped gyms. One has to make the best out of Hotel gyms, unknown running trails and climates, and the hotel room.
Third, I like to pack minimalistic, which means that, especially in the winter season, I do not have space in my luggage for all layers required for a nice winter morning outdoor run.
Fourth, because of the rhythm of business travel days, exercise means getting up early. After a bad nigh of sleep (after a business dinner) this is very hard, especially if you have to give an important presentation or prepare for a difficult meeting or negotiation, and it is tempting to use that spare time for an extra round of prep work.
In summary, I try to make the best of it. Here are the things I do, in order of pleasantness:
- Contact a local rowing club and ask if there is a guest rowing program. Then train with the local rowers. This is the most fun but needs careful planning, is only possible if you have a rock solid schedule with no risk of surprises, and your destination is a place in the USA with a rowing club. I have not been lucky with this approach anywhere else, except for one great row in a double on the Tideway in London.
- Contact a local CrossFit and do an erg session there. Again, this seems only possible in the US, but it is a nice way to get an erg session in. Again, it needs time to prepare and you need to have confidence that you are actually going to show up at the agreed time. In Europe, it is sometimes possible to find a local gym with Concept2 ergs, but one has to know.
- Outdoors running. With my luggage packing style this is only possible in warm destinations or in the summer. In cities, outdoors is sidewalk running which is not very pleasant, so one needs to prepare and find the parks that are running spots. It is a great way to explore a city, though. On these trips, there usually is very little time for sightseeing so running is a great way to meet local runners and see some of the sights. I personally have a pretty good sense of orientation, so I study the map in the hotel room and then run on memory and general sense of direction, or I carry a small piece of paper with a sketch of the major roads, rivers, etc. Ideally, I run along a river bank. Take some reserve time though for when you get lost. It has happened s few times, and this sometimes adds as much as thirty minutes to the workout.
- Hotel gym. Treadmill, Elliptical, these are usually present. I find it hard to do anything longer than 45 minutes in this setting. I also find it hard to get my heart rate up to levels with some training effect, in contrast to running outdoors, where I have no such problems at all.
- Running stairs in high Hotel buildings. This is a little adventurous because you are going to look for the fire escape route, then run it up, down, up, down, etc. Sometimes these places are used as storage, and almost always these are places where Hotel Staff have their secret cigarette breaks, so be prepared for a little smell and dirt.
- Hotel room body weight circuit. These are concentrated workouts of 30seconds on, 10 seconds off. A circuit takes between 7 and 10 minutes depending on how I set it up and it is pretty intense. Two or three rounds, usually. I do carry bodylastics bands when I have room for them in my luggage, and they add a little ‘weights’ element to the circuit. Exercises are pushups, crunches, squats, etc. A good starting point is the Wahoo 7 minute workout.
- I rarely use pools. I find them too small, and I am not a good swimmer, in the sense that I am unable to swim fast enough to tire myself.
- Walk to the meeting instead of taking a taxi or public transport. If all else fails, this is a way to sneak in at least some exercise, although there is a risk that you arrive at your important meeting sweating inside your suit and tie.
So here is my week so far:
- On Sunday I was still at home and I did a nice 12k run in the woods behind our house.
- Monday. Up at 3:45 Brno time, arrived in Minneapolis 6pm local time. No exercise.
- Tuesday: Hotel gym. Twenty minutes of running on the treadmill, followed by twenty minutes of elliptical. The cycling machine was occupied, as were the treadmills when I was bored with the elliptical. Also I was running out of time.
- Wednesday: Body weight circuit in hotel room. Two circuits of 10 minutes.
- Thursday. Today I am flying to Phoenix where I have a few meetings lined up in Deer Valley. If I manage to check in at a reasonable time, I may use the Hotel gym or run outside if the weather permits.
Friday is going to be the highlight of the week. I am going to get up early, drive to a desert trail head and run in the desert while the sun comes up.
Saturday will be difficult, because my flight to JFK is early, and then I will take a flight to Amsterdam, then on to Prague to arrive home in Brno on Sunday mid day. So that will probably mean body weight circuit on Saturday and a rest day on Sunday.