Performing your best on event-day is the primary goal of any training plan. However, the reality is that event-day success is predicated on more than just training alone.
One such item that most Athletes will be forced to navigate on their way to their goal-event is travel.
Whether an event is only a few hours away or multiple days away, it requires Athletes to plan for and cope with a whole host of travel-related issues.
So, how does an Athlete mitigate the challenges of travel with minimal disruption to their training and preparation?
To answer this question we have identified the following five tips to help you maximize performance and minimize travel stress leading into your next big event. Enjoy!
You can find healthy food options to boost your immune system at a truck-stop if you look hard-enough. Photo Credit: Joy McCulloch.
#1: Boost That Immune System!
Continuous endurance training regularly suppresses and compromises an Athletes immune system, it’s the result of working-out and pushing our limits. Additionally, travel is an extra stressor for our already hard-working immune systems.
While our immune system is constantly fighting to keep us healthy, doing so while it is being confronted by new germs can make it very easy to fall ill or otherwise not be at our best.
To combat this, Athletes can begin taking immune system boosting vitamins and minerals leading into and through any of their travels. Vitamin-C is at the top of the ‘most helpful’ list, but also included are anti-oxidants, zinc, beta-carotene, and Vitamin-E.
There are many great products available at local drug-stores that combine these immune system boosting nutrients. We suggest Athletes use them before, while traveling to, during, and returning from any event they go to.
#2: Utilize Compression Garments
Compression garments are not the most fashionable athletic clothing available, but despite the fashion faux-paux they serve an important purpose.
Although science has not always embraced the idea of compression garments during exercise, empirical data and personal experience shows that they are well worth the investment for travel, especially leading into a competition.
Wearing compression pants or leg-sleeves during travel helps reduce swelling that comes from sitting for prolonged periods of time, such as long drives or flights.
By reducing the swelling your body must combat, post-travel, you will be able to perform and train regularly more quickly than an Athlete that did not use compression garments.
Getting to a race takes more than just great training. An Athlete must be able to travel to their chosen event and perform their best. Photo Credit: Joy McCulloch.
#3: Stay Hydrated, Don’t Get Depleted
As much as proper hydration is a corner-stone of endurance athletics, it is equally vital to our bodies during travel. During travel our bodies are exposed to unusually dry conditions (note: airplane cabins are exceptionally dry), which leads to accelerated dehydration.
Additionally, it has also been shown that dehydration intensifies the symptoms of jet-lag.
The moral of the story is that staying adequately hydrated while traveling takes more effort and fluid than our normal surroundings.
We suggest keeping a water bottle with you at all times during travel. As a bonus, add electrolytes or the immune system boosting nutrients referenced above to maximize your bodies ability to cope with the stress of travel.
#4: Increase Sleep & Monitor Sleep Quality
Getting adequate sleep, and specifically deep-sleep, is must for any high-performing Athlete.
Travel introduces us to unfamiliar sleeping arrangements, be it hotel, host housing, or even a vacation home, all of which can make getting adequate sleep difficult to achieve.
To combat sleep disruption, Athletes should consider adding sleep-aids to their travel bag. Good examples are eye-masks, ear-plugs, melatonin, white noise, and/or tart-cherry juice in order to sleep as deeply as possible leading into an event.
By maximizing sleep quality with the techniques above, an Athlete can minimize the performance-reducing affects of travel.
Gathering with friends or fellow participants for an easy ride can be a great way to “spin-out the jet lag” following a long bout of travel. Photo Credit: Joy McCulloch
#5: Add ‘Easy Miles’ To Your Post Travel Routine
Once you have arrived at your destination and training can resume, it can be very helpful to add easy miles to your training routine.
Outside of rare circumstances that include inclement weather and high-winds, adding easy mileage to your pre-event training routine can help you acclimatize to new surroundings.
Lengthening warm-up time as well as cool-down times by 15-30min., per training ride, can go a long way to helping travel weary legs get back to feeling ‘light’ and ‘sporty’.
Whether your travel is during the preparation phase of training or leading into your goal-event during the ‘taper’ phase, adding these five tactics to your travel can make the most of your hard-earned fitness.
These simple techniques can unlock your bodies potential and help make your best performances possible despite long and arduous travel across timezones or even continents.
Until Next Time, Be Safe, Train Hard, & Have Fun!
-Brian and Joy McCulloch
Big Wheel Coaching