Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Planes, Training, and Automobiles

What's more rigorous than a marathon training plan?  Try logging 50,000 miles a year in the air and fitting in 500 miles on your feet to train for a race.  My take on Planes, Train(ing,) and Automobiles.

Part of the challenge of a marathoner is how to fit in a time-consuming plan with the day-to-day life requirements; family, kids, jobs, applications for "American Idol" and carnival ride operator job applications.  Okay...I made up the part about the carnival job, but the point is life is busy and you're constantly getting tugged in various directions.  We'd all admit family comes first (or it should,) then very quickly running competes with that J word thing that funds our addiction.  No job, no shoes, no races, no bueno.

For many a working man and woman, the job requires you to take whatever talent you have on the road.  This requires a bit of extra planning when you're deep into a training plan and have runs plotted out for the week yet you have to hit the road.

For those that know me, you know I'm a bit anal about my training plans--bordering on OCD.  Regardless of the plan (Higdon, local running coaches, or my current FIRST plan) I have plotted out the usually 16 weeks of training in a spreadsheet.  As I check off the runs, I enter in actuals, and compare to previous runs (with comments noting previous performance, mileage, time, heart rate, how I felt, menstruation cycle, etc.)  As trips come up, I stare down the spreadsheet and compare to my Microsoft Outlook calendar and say to myself, how am I going to do that?

What results is the following (these actually happened.)

1)  Treadmill runs at midnight on a crappy treadmill in a crappy hotel.
2)  Swimming 1500 yards in a kidney shaped motor lodge hotel that's a mere 20' in length.  I'm not that good at math (third lie in this blog,) but that's a lotta laps.
3)  Dreading the Eastern time zone.  Live in Colorado (plus!)  Breakfast meeting in New Jersey at 7:30 AM, means getting up at 3 something in the morning according to your body clock. (Not a plus.)
4)  Fly on Saturday?  No running group that weekend, you're gonna get up early on Friday and run by yourself with two hours of water strapped to your body.  Bleech!

Another crappy self portrait in a great run town
I'm sure there are more (share yours,) but you get the idea.  The good stuff you say?  Pack your run (and swim gear) for every trip and you will get to absorb some amazing runs.  Some of my favorite "training runs" not counting destination marathons?

Barcelona in March.  That didn't suck at all.  Amazing city and way better than that crappy hotel treadmill.
San Francisco.  You kidding me!  All kinds of great routes around that city--none better than the run over the Golden Gate bridge into Sausalito or continue on to Tiburon.
New York's Central Park?  Simply one of the greatest places in the world to run.
Las Vegas.  Not what you'd think as run friendly, but there's something about running down the strip (at the right time of the year) in the morning.  Considering Vegas is a late night town, this is a rarity, but something you need to try once.

Those are at the top of the list, but I've found great routes almost wherever I go.  Ping your virtual world of DailyMile and twitter for suggestions or go to popular sites like MapMyRun and you'll find routes as I have in Kansas City and Seattle (Alki Beach is a "day at the beach" for sure.  Two thumbs up.)

Tips for the traveling runner?  A few to share;

1)  Lunches are rarely an option.  With few exceptions, you're running early or at the end of your business day.
2)  Plan dinners and breakfasts wisely.  Client dinner on Monday and a breakfast meeting on Tuesday means you better run Monday morning and will have to push it to Tuesday evening.  Otherwise, you will curse the 3AM wake-up.
3)  Pack smart.  Check the weather, and pack light for only what you need.  I'm a carry-on only guy when I travel, so don't forget anything, but don't take everything.
4)  Don't forget the Garmin.  If you did, iPhone has an app for that.  It's called Runkeeper.  Solid, but I don't like to always carry something that heavy.  I prefer the iPod or shuffle.
Why don't they have gyms in airports?
5)  If you are a triathlete or cross train with swimming, keep an extra swimsuit, goggles, and cap in your bag.  I've got all that, and a small cheap lock (for the 24 Hr Fitness) in a string backback in a pouch of my travel bag.
6)  Shop the hotels.  You normally don't count on much for the hotel workout facility, but every once in a while, you can score a great hotel at the same price as a Marriott Courtyard as I did this week in Walnut Creek, CA at the Renaissance Club Sport.  They didn't even ask if I actually worked for Oracle when I used that rate.
7)  Dry clean bags in the hotel closet are your friend for the soiled and smelly workout clothes.  I usually keep an extra in my travel suitcase.
8)  Plan smart on the back end.  This is sometimes unavoidable as you will often get home on a Friday with an ominous run on Saturday.  Rest!  Travel will wear you out all on its own.  I've paid for this one with late night client dinners and a long one on Saturday.
9)  Just as a race, be prepared for change.  I have shown up at a hotel in Canada after midnight only to learn I didn't have a room.  Luckily, I did not have to shack up with Del from "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles."

Neal: Del... Why did you kiss my ear?
Del: Why are you holding my hand?
Neal: [frowns] Where's your other hand?
Del: Between two pillows...
Neal: Those aren't pillows! 

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Average guy w/ an above average appetite for marathon racing and triathlons. Ran my 5th Boston in '15. 3:21, 1:29, 19:21 PR;full/half/5K Opinions & wit are mine