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It certainly is special preparing for a race where long haul travel is required. Don’t get me wrong, it is very convenient when you can sleep in your own bed the night before race day. But there is something very cool about packing your bags and flying to some exotic location for your date with destiny.
There is a myriad of things that will influence whether it has been a good or not so good experience travelling to a race. While you must accept the things that are out of your control, it is crucial to make everything that is in your control work in your favour.
So here are my top 10 tips when travelling to a race -
1. Be organized – being stressed is inexcusable. Race week you want to be as carefree and stress free as possible, so pack your bags and your bike carefully and with great care at least 24 hours before you are due to leave for the race.
2. No heavy training before – As your body recovers from the rigors of a training session – being cooped up in a car or on a plane for hours on end is not ideal – so limit the exercise you do the morning of your travel as much as you can. In a perfect world you would have the morning off or have a light jog when you first get up.
3. Take two drink bottles – Drink to thirst but be prepared to drink. With so much going on when travelling to a race, staying hydrated is often not a high priority. If you are travelling by plane, the cabin is held at around 20% humidity which reduces the sensation of being thirty even more. Finally, when the trolley comes around – makes sure you say ‘can I please have two waters’. Avoid juice or soft drink as they will not help your body get over the travel.
4. BYO Food – Plane food (or for that matter servo food) polarizes people, but the reality is once you are eating the supplied food - you lose control of what goes into your body. The food as served is highly processed, high in salt and extremely carb based – a perfect list of what you are trying to avoid when your body is already going through the stress of travel. Pack your own lunchbox – make sure there are lots of good food choices and that it will be enough to get through the flight so you aren’t tempted. It isn’t glamorous but you won’t regret it and plus - the glamour will come on race day!
5. Move! Whether you are stuck in a car or a plane, move around every 60-90mins. Hip flexors are the biggest thing that suffer from sitting in one position for any length of time – so be sure you stretch them out, do lunges, squats and even a downward dog or two! Swallow the pride and be the person that is always out of the seat – your body will thank you the next day.
6. Compression – To ensure blood flow is encouraged throughout the time you are sitting – this is the ideal time for the compression socks to come out. Ideally get your hands on the hospital grade TEDs to throw on once airborne. If you don’t have a contact in the health system, your brand name sporting compression socks will suffice.
7. Avoid sleeping pills – This might seem obvious but the amount of athletes that desperately want to sleep on the plane vs keeping your body chemical free may surprise you. You have trained months for this race, do not jeopardize it with pills.
8. Once you arrive, you have only just begun - You have followed the above and done some great work in the car or on the plane to minimize the impact of the travel and you have arrived at your destination – now the real work begins. Get into your exercise gear and go for a gentle walk followed by hydration and a gentle stretch and if you can, get into some NORMATEC Recovery Boots. Then find a place to eat wholesome food with salad and vegies included.
9. Changed time zones – If crossing time zones and you find yourself feeling sleepy at 9:30am then this is the plan – When you feel the most tired, get out to a park or somewhere where there is lots of greenery and do your training session in the sun (without sunglasses mind you)– this will help shift the body to the time change. Don’t worry too much about your data/pace/speed etc – just get the session done.
10. Time for bed – It has been a big day of travel and its getting time for bed – 30mins before you are wanting to be pushing up ‘z’s’ turn off all tvs, phones, laptops etc – by removing screen stimulus you are more likely to have a better quality of sleep – and that is the name of the game on race week. Once you wake up the next morning, get stuck into your usual routine as if you were home – do not try any new things this close to the race.
To know more about Coach Richard Thompson - check him out here
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