Training while traveling is hard

When many of my colleagues find out that I’m training for a full Ironman they often ask how I get the workouts done with a schedule that has me traveling weekly. The question addresses my mindset. Initially, I viewed the volume and frequency of my training the same way the others did… that it’s really hard, what a burden it must be.

Hell yeah… it truly was a burden. As long as I viewed it as a struggle, I struggled. But, when I began to think of the workouts as growth opportunities they became rewarding and full of joy. They no longer felt like burdens. The way that I chose to frame the situation profoundly shaped how I experienced it. Through my triathlon training, I am learning the awesome power of mindset. 

Setting priorities is key 

The reality is that to create a training routine requires that I make choices about how I spend my time. I think that this is the first challenge, not the training itself. Eating dinner earlier in the evening, having fewer drinks, going to sleep earlier are all contrary to typical business travel. Business travel is all about drinks, late meals, bars and avoiding the hotel room as much as possible.  I am accustomed to those norms, I’ve been living them for about 15 years and they feel like home to me…warm, cozy and comfortable. In addition, the after-hours socializing is important for building work relationships.

Just like high school and in college the peer-pressure is real. It doesn’t suddenly dissipate when a room is filled with adults. In fact, the stakes can seem just as high as they did in our youth.  While we are out socializing, we all want to have fun. When one person isn’t doing the “thing” that everyone else is doing, the group rhythm is thrown off.  Most of the time for me, it’s social drinking and eating good, rich food late into the night.  I enjoy all of these things with a passion, but, at this juncture, they are out of alignment with my Ironman goals. Honestly, now I can feel the incongruity of these situations every time I choose to participate in them. It can be uncomfortable. Sometimes I push through and make appropriate decisions while I’m out with the gang, other times, I succumb to my desires to eat, drink and be merry. #thestruggleisreal

My why is important.

More recently, I’ve become sensitive to those uncomfortable feelings, so I plan ahead. I decide what I’m going to do before I even leave for the festivities. Once I know my workout plan, I’m very clear about my food and alcohol limits for the night.  I’ve found that making these decisions prior to rather than in the moment leads to more mornings in the gym and fewer days full of frustration and disappointment in myself. 

When I find myself on the “decision-making fence” all I have to do is ask myself the following….why do you want to do x,y or z today?  Then I remember…I enjoy the feelings of accomplishment after a workout much more than the feeling of fitting in. The personal growth and hitting my goals are more meaningful to me than hanging out night after night.  Also, to be real, the Ironman is not going to race itself, it’s a monumental endeavor and I must remember that. So, remaining focused is a priority.  

Two cities in four days

The challenge this week was to find and execute my workouts while doing a quick, 24-hr stay in Tulsa, Oklahoma, then working in Miami for 4 days. To lower the barriers for working out, when I search for hotels, I look closely at their exercise facilities. I’m searching to see if they have what I need.  I’ve learned the hard way that many locations say they have exercise facilities but they are not always fully equipped rooms. Many don’t have a suitable pool or even a stationary bike. So, now, I usually search for photos of the hotel’s equipment. Adding this process makes picking a hotel a bit more difficult, but it’s worth it in the end. I’m rewarded with a good workout and a fabulous start to my day. 

Unfortunately, the Tulsa Club Hilton didn’t have a pool, but the front desk staff was kind enough to look for a local YMCA that did have one. The hotel gym only had one spin cycle instead of a digital stationary bike so I rode it. The physical workout was great. The limitation of the spin cycle was the lack of any data, so I didn’t know my speed or cadence or distance. All I had was my time. So, in the future, I’ll be sure to pair my cadence sensor with my watch so I can get meaningful data regardless of the type of bike I use….lesson learned.

On the other hand, the Conrad Hilton hotel in Miami had a beautiful 25-meter outdoor pool, treadmills, stationary bikes and plenty of free weights πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ™πŸ½.  I was full of excitement when I saw that pool. To do laps in an outdoor pool in Miami! YEAH. As soon as I checked in I asked about the pool and exercise room hours. To my dismay, the pool closes early, before sunset even. The gym had 24-hr access. I unpacked, noted a canceled conference call and made a B-line to the pool. At about 5 pm, I think most folks were either at dinner or freshening up to go out for the night because there was only one family poolside. I wasted no time, I put on my snorkel and goggles and did my laps. I felt great. This session was all about stroke technique and breathing. Occasionally, I stopped swimming to just take in the situation. I was at a beautiful hotel in Miami with the freedom and the discipline to get a long training session done. Gratitude was my feeling of the day. 

After completing the swim, I checked my phone and noticed that a colleague was checking to see if I wanted to go get some drinks….the peer pressure doesn’t stop. I replied that I had another 2hrs before I’d be done with my workout. I’d join him after that if he wanted to wait. He said that he would. 

I rolled up to the gym and got going on the treadmill. Normally, the swim is followed by a bike session. However, I did the bike yesterday in Tulsa, so I ran today. The swim was simply a makeup session.  Having warmed up in the pool, I immediately felt good on the treadmill. Since it was surrounded by mirrors, I took selfies and some videos too. The slow-motion video clip below makes me smile because I look like an experienced runner. The control panel is blocking my midsection, so my mediocre form is hidden from full view.  I love it. 

To top it all off, I met my colleague AFTER completing a great workout, we had a nice meal and got to bed at a reasonable time. 

Win-Win-Win! I love those days.