For many triathletes, racing involves traveling to a specific location. Whether a long car ride, domestic flight, or voyage across the world, approach your travel with as much focus as you do your taper. Here are some tips for before, during and after travel to help you get to the start line in the best state possible.
1) Before: Boost your system.
Leading up to your departure, consume foods high in Vitamin C or with immune-stimulating qualities. A scoop of honey with cinnamon, an orange, or ginger tea are some of the many options to choose from. Traveling can be an exhausting process, especially if it is a far distance, so getting quality nights of sleep in the lead up to your travel day will help to ensure your body is not under too much stress. Inevitably, airports and airplanes are full of germs, so a heightened immune system from pre-travel preparation can help you stay healthy in the build up to race day.
2) During: Be prepared for anything.
We all have those stories of running to our connection flight and just missing it, getting stuck on the tarmac for hours, running out of gas in the middle of the dessert, or having a flight cancelled completely. When traveling to a race, be ready for something to go wrong- but respond to it calmly and rationally. I have a bag of items that I have found to be essential, especially if your travel plans go out of whack.
– Snacks & Hydration: Whether you are a picky eater or not, having some food with you will prevent an unnecessary emotional breakdown, cranky comment to your neighbor on a flight, or feeling of sickness from hunger. I always pack some healthy snacks just in case- don’t rely on your layover to grab dinner because you may be sprinting to your gate! Since the airplane cups tend to be extremely small, bring a water bottle on the plane and politely (with a smile!) as your flight attendant to fill your bottle with water. Some will say no, but it doesn’t hurt to ask!
– Sleep aids: There is a time and place to be social, but sleeping on a flight or long car drive is a great way to add in some rest to your travel day. Dim the lights with a face mask, and tune out your neighbors with noise canceling headphones or earplugs. Sleep tablets are great for international travel, especially when you are trying to get on cycle with the time zone you are headed to.
– Compression: For car rides or flights, compression socks are great for increasing blood flow and preventing inflammation. With cramped seating and inactivity, these are critical for keeping your legs in a decent state for post-travel, pre-race preparation.
3) After: Shift your focus to the race.
Once you have reached your destination, try to get out for a short jog or walk. In general, travel takes a lot out of you, so avoid any hard or long training sessions after you arrive. You should treat a travel day as a rest day, and focus on having a good meal, hydrating, and getting a quality night of sleep. Now is the time to direct your energy toward getting organized and focused for race day, knowing you did the best job you could to stay healthy during the travel.