Last week’s short trip and some upcoming travel made me think about what works and doesn’t work while trying to keep my running routine while traveling. The older I get, the more energy traveling seems to take out of me. Usually if I make the time to run, I find the exercise does wonders for my energy level.
First and foremost, I need to feel like running after traveling. Headaches, hunger, or simply being tired can all be issues that keep me from feeling like running during trips. I usually associate headaches during travel with a lack of water. I try to ensure I have at least a few bottles of water to tie me over until I can find water at the hotel. A few healthy snacks — trail mix, energy bars or fruit such as bananas or apples are easy to travel with and can do the trick until a real meal is available. If I’m really tired, I try to take a 20-30 minute before my run. Usually that will do wonders for my energy. All this being said, I usually take my runs during travel very easy. I usually expend enough energy during the travel, so additional stress is not always that welcomed.
I also try a few other tricks during my time away from home. One of my favorites is substituting a run for my normal commute. Getting out early in the morning is a little easier when I convince myself it beats sitting in my car for 40 minutes every morning. Running during travel also gives me a sense of discovery, different from running on my regular routes. A new city or new trail adds interest to the run. In that same vein, I like to research the general area where I will be staying for nearby running or hiking trails.
Sometimes overcoming obstacles is enough of a challenge to motivate you. I once traveled during the winter in which I needed to get my mileage ran before early start times for meetings. Since the early morning hours were so dark, I was challenged with finding a running route that was lit well enough to safely run. I discovered that a nearby mall had a large, well-lit parking lot that provided me a great venue for safe running. Of course, most hotels offer exercise rooms with treadmills, so this is typically an option if a good venue is not nearby.
I also find it helpful to have tools to help me relax during my time away. My running log or a general notebook to record thoughts is always helpful. Finally, books and music are welcomed travel partners.
Traveling does not have to automatically interrupt your running routine. By ensuring you have adequate nutrition and maybe employing a few tricks along the way, running can help restore energy that traveling often zaps from all of us.