Triathlon Training while Traveling

Traveling can be hard.  Your routine is interrupted, you might have jet lag, your surroundings are strange and you’re probably going to eat horribly.  For the type-A triathlete, traveling can be frustrating and anxiety-inducing.  Fortunately, there are very fast age-group triathletes who travel for work all the time—including internationally.  Consider the following six tips to maintain or gain fitness while traveling.

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  1. Focus on the run:  Running is among the most convenient forms of exercise and from a time perspective, offers the biggest bang for the buck. Embrace this while traveling and accept that it’s OK to replace a couple swim and bike sessions with runs.  View it as a mini run-block of training.  In anticipation, focus on getting some extra bike and swim volume before your trip so that the microcycle is somewhat balanced.

  2. Take every opportunity to do something:  Studies show that once a base of fitness is created, it does not take that much effort to maintain it.  Even if your schedule is packed, a 20 min run or 35 min hard bike ride in the hotel gym can go a long way.  You don’t need an hour block to fit in a worthwhile workout.  Shorter sessions add up.

  3. Emphasize intensity: Obviously the benefits of high intensity interval training have been widely circulated.  As an endurance athlete, you should not underestimate the importance of steady base training; however, when you’re looking to maximize the benefit of a workout in the shortest amount of time, you have to go hard.  Restructure your weeks so that you do the longer stuff on the weekends when you can sleep in and/or aren’t constrained by time and schedule your key, albeit shorter, intensity sessions during your travels. 

  4. Workout in your hotel room: Don’t feel like going to the hotel gym or braving the elements outside?  You’ve almost certainly neglected core workouts.  So do one while you’re watching TV in your hotel room.  For something more intense, do a body weight Tabata workouts.  Some good exercises include single leg squats, lunges, tricep dips, push ups, bridges, clam shells and various ab exercises such as Russian twists, flutter kicks and planks.  

  5. Plan ahead: You’re smart.  Use Google.  Get a hotel by a great gym or pool.  If you have a few hours of daylight, rent a bike from a local bike shop.  Take a spin class. 

  6. Do the time efficient brick workout: I’m a big believer in frequency over volume and I rarely prescribe going more than two days in a row without engaging in each of the disciplines.  From a necessity standpoint I think brick workouts are overrated and I actually advocate separating your workouts; however the efficiency of bricks are undeniable. If you only have one time slot to fit in a workout and you have access to necessary equipment, a brick workout is usually preferable to focusing on a single discipline.  My favorite one hour brick is 40 minutes of cycling intervals followed by a 20 minute run.