How to train while traveling


The Gazelle Sports Activator Blog Series is written by a group of passionate individuals, willing and eager to share their personal stories of trial and triumph. Maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle is filled with ups and downs, lessons learned, successes and failures. Get to know them as they share their journeys—you might learn something new!

By Phil Dirkse

When I signed up to run my first marathon earlier this year, I expected a few long training runs on the weekends, but I didn’t realize just how many miles I would be logging each week. My job requires frequent travel, and it’s a rare week that I’m not driving across the state or flying across the country. How was I going to balance my work and sleep schedules while steadily increasing my weekly mileage totals?

Here are five practical tips that I’ve learned while training for my first marathon from airports and hotel rooms:

Find a New Route: When traveling to a new city, I love to use the MapMyRun “Routes” feature to find a new route. Strava’s “HeatMap” is also a great way to find popular paths and roads that are safe for pedestrians. On a recent trip to Paris with my wife, I used Meetup to connect with a local running group and learned about a 10k race that was taking place during our trip. Although we already had plans during the race, I ran the official route earlier that morning and enjoyed a beautiful run from the Louvre to the Eiffel Tower along the River Seine.

Leverage the Time Change: When I fly for work, I often travel west into earlier time zones. I take advantage of this by waking up at the same time that I would at home and using the extra time in the morning to run. Similarly, my friend from California who regularly travels to the east coast enjoys a “happy hour” run after work and before eating a late dinner. Wherever you travel, make it easy on yourself.

Switch Up Your Routine: If the weather turns sour while you’re traveling, head to the hotel gym for some treadmill time or cross training.  If you prefer a better equipped facility, check if your hometown gym has a reciprocal use agreement at other locations. For example, Planet Fitness allows Black Card members to use any facility across the country, and YMCA members can check out a new location for a minimal daily fee. Many yoga studios and CrossFit gyms have similar drop-in policies.

Eat Good Food: At home, I try to limit how often I eat out, but when I’m traveling, I don’t have much choice. Instead of grabbing a greasy sandwich or burger at lunch, seek out a restaurant with fresh, healthier options. If you can expense your meals, don’t worry about splurging on a protein-loaded, organic fruit smoothie. For road trips or family vacations, bring healthy snacks or hit up the grocery store when you arrive to avoid being tempted to eat out for every single meal.

Get Some Rest: Instead of catching up on television shows in the evening, catch up on sleep! Use this time away from your typical weeknight responsibilities at home to give your body what it needs most: rest. This works particularly well if you made use of tip #2 and kept your regular sleep schedule. After a long day, it is important to listen to your body and be realistic with your training goals.

Safe travels, and keep running!

Phil works in West Michigan as a Product Designer & Mechanical Engineer.  When he’s not running, Phil can be found building furniture in his wood shop or sailing on Lake Michigan with his wife, Kelsi, and four-legged child, Bo.


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