Soon I will be on a plane heading back Chicago for a friend’s wedding and to visit with family. While it will be great to visit with everyone back home, these trips tend to throw a monkey wrench in my training schedule. Through trial and error, I’ve discovered a few tips that help ensure I’m eating and training as best I can, and thought it would be helpful to share.
1. If You Need It, Bring It: Plan in advance what you are going to need to train and bring ONLY WHAT YOU NEED. If you are flying you can only bring a certain number of bags so space is limited. Just because you are going to be gone for only a few days doesn’t mean you should leave stuff just for convenience sake. If you need your ZMA before you go to bed, bring it and take it. I make sure to have extra workout clothes, my lifting shoes and a pair of sneakers, and my “bag of tricks,” filled with assorted bands, tape and a lacrosse ball.
2. Plastic Baggies Are Your Friend: Plan out your supplements and throw them in some Ziploc bags or similar containers and place them in your suitcase. As stated earlier, space is limited and a few Ziploc bags are easier to pack then all of your pill bottles. If you are not checking a bag, this can get a little dicey. You should be fine bringing vitamins and most non-prescription pill substances, but anything that is powdered should be in its original container. Also, when traveling abroad, this applies to both your carry-on and checked luggage. Getting interviewed by Customs Agents because you have multiple bags of white powder in your suitcase is not fun. (I unfortunately know this from experience. Learn from my mistakes. Keep your original containers!)
3. Have A Back Up Plan: This covers a wide array of things but the two top things in my opinion are training place and transportation. Stuff happens, gyms have to close, and people have things that come up, but that doesn’t mean your training has to be put off. Research the area you are going to and have a back up place to go if Option A is closed for the day. If you have to bum a ride from your sibling or figure out public transportation to get to the gym then do it. Just because you are away from your normal training doesn’t give you a good enough excuse to miss training.
4. Being Flexible: I know when I go home this is HUGE for me. The drive to where I train is a little further than when I am home and the traffic in Chicago is crazier than most other places so I need to plan accordingly. You should, too. Don’t say you will meet friends in an hour for dinner when you haven’t given yourself enough time to get back, shower, then meet up. You are not going to be able to do everything you do when you are at your own place (i.e certain meals, recovery, warm-up, cool down, etc.) Do your best with what you can and be willing to improvise. You think conditions are going to be perfect for training all the time? Yeah right. This is helpful practice for when you travel to competitions and meets, so just go with the flow.
5. Balance is Key; Enjoy Yourself: You are home to visit family or friends, or see a new place, SO DO IT. A little down time from training never hurt anyone but don’t get carried away. There is a difference between being lenient and lazy, don’t confuse them. When I go home I have a hard time sticking to my exact routine, but I do my best and make time to unwind and enjoy myself too.
6. Don’t Neglect Stretching: After a long car ride or an uncomfortable plane ride, you’re probably anxious to relax in the hotel room or on your parents’ couch. Resist the urge, and make sure to stretch well. (This is where packing bands comes in handy!) If you’re driving over 3 hours, make sure to take a break every few hours to get up and walk around, specifically stretching your quads and hamstrings, and moving your knees and ankles. If you’re on a plane, make sure to get up and walk at least every two hours, and do some ankle rolls and knee extensions to prevent blood clots in your leg (also known as Deep Vein Thrombosis).
I really do enjoy going home every few months or so. Catching up on the latest family news, talking with friends, or enjoying a home cooked meal are enough for anyone to make that trip. But just because you are away from your training environment doesn’t mean all your hard work and routines need to be thrown out the window. Things don’t always go as planned and being able to adapt and overcome is key. Don’t blow a gasket over things you cannot control and remember to enjoy your time away, but DO NOT fall into the trap of slacking on your workouts.