Three Tips on How to Tri and Travel
When I crossed the finish of the NYC Triathlon, I thought "that was probably my worst race ever".
It turns out I was very wrong. Aside from getting on the Elite Podium I had dropped almost 3 min from my swim time and almost 4 min on the bike over last year's race.
I was surprised to say the least given that I was dealing with some hamstring/ glute injury issues and that this time last week I was in Bali, or maybe it was China. Come to think of it, in the lead-up to the NYC Triathlon my wife and I were on the road for ten of the last ten weekends.
From the ITU Pro circuit to Age Group Championships at the National or World level or the Kona pilgrimage, traveling is inherently a part of triathlon. And more than that, just like every other part of the race, being able to travel efficiently means better training, better racing and less chance of mishap.
Here are my top three tips for training while traveling.
1. GET CREATIVE
When traveling, being creative in how you get in the training is an absolute necessity. When you're on the road, that means you likely have access to less than your full complement of equipment and facilities. That means it's time to find some interesting solutions.
I've got a history of rather comedic training instances, all of which certainly caused onlookers to think I was a nut. They were not totally wrong, but speed workouts on a cruise ship treadmill on the high sea in Amsterdam, swim sets on a bungie on a sailboat while sailing in Bali or threshold sessions on a bike with a sofa for a seat in some London hotel were all a part of my race preparations.
Bottom line, look at the tools you have around you, the facilities, environment and equipment and don't be afraid to be a little foolish. The departure from your normal routine haunts and gear is the perfect way to keep things fresh while improving your fitness in new ways.
2. PLAN TO BE FLEXIBLE
I'm more of a go with the flow kinda guy (a carryover from my runner days), but with triathlon training has taught me to plan ahead, but not too much.
This is where having an amazing Coach and a tool like Training Peaks comes in. When I booked travel I also looked up what options were available to me along the way and sent a report to Coach Cane about the swim, bike and run options for each day. From there Coach Cane gave me some options to choose from in TrainingPeaks.
The plan for our last trip to Bali where we were on a sailboat for a week was to focus on the swimming. With a lot of unknowns about the open water I found bungee on Amazon as a back-up. I ended up doing the majority of my swimming with the bungee in the boat's small pool. It was an awesome way for me to build strength and I have never felt stronger than after a few days of being sloshed around in a tank on a moving ship. When the ports allowed I was able to get in some open water sessions and even found a buddy on the ship to swim with.
It's good to have a plan, but don't be afraid to change it.
The best way to explore a new place is by foot or bike, so act accordingly.
During our time in Bermuda I reconnected with an old friend and former All American 10k runner for a pre-dawn long run around the island. It was the absolute best way to see (once the sun came up that is) the territory, complete with my own private guide. I've had similar experiences in Australia, Oregon, Kentucky and London, coming home with all sorts of cool places for us to explore later (mostly places to eat).
When you're traveling, don't forget why you're doing it and make a point to explore the world around you. It also makes for some fun Strava posts.