8 Pro Tips For Training After Air Travel
Dec 20, 2023
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One of the benefits of being a professional athlete is that I can travel while doing what I love: running. From hiking the streets of Tokyo to exploring Kenya's high-altitude trails, I was able to explore new places while climbing the steps.
But reaching a feel-good destination isn't second nature. This requires planning. I learned about this around 2015, when Ryan and I were going to Ethiopia every other month—a 24-hour trip in each direction—while we were adopting our four daughters. Whether you have a destination game on your calendar or just want to embrace a healthy trip and get some exercise during your work trip or vacation, here are some top tips to keep me active, healthy and healthy while away from home power.
fly with compression gear
Have you ever noticed that your ankles are swollen to the size of your calves on a long flight? Travel ankle conditions - caused by blood in the lower extremities during inactivity - can be avoided by wearing compression socks, or better yet, full compression tights on long flights. The pressure gradient in these clothes keeps blood circulating upwards, making your legs feel fresher and more flexible as you land. Just make sure to relax in the first mile of your next run to give your muscles a chance to relax.
hug long live
Make the most of it if you're waiting a few hours between transfers. Usually during a long layover, I would wear or bring a set of running clothes and shoes in my carry-on bag and go for a run outside. While leaving the airport can be a bit risky at times, most airports are located in rural, open areas with quiet roads, perfect for running. Check ahead. One of my favorite places in the world to run is the forest near Frankfurt Airport in Germany, a major international hub.
Rehydrate as soon as possible and often.
Air pressure in a plane may be lower than you're used to (unless you live in a small mountain town), which means less oxygen in your blood. Therefore, hydration is particularly important. Bring an empty water bottle to refill after security, and don't be afraid to ask for a refill after beverage service.
Reset your sleep cycle.
One of the best ways to adjust to a new time zone is to stay in bright daylight as much as possible—even if that means not taking a nap after getting off the plane. I prepared this on the plane. If my destination is daytime, I'll let the sun shine through the window seat and stare at the shiny electronics. It also helps me get to my destination when I'm relatively tired, ensures I get a good night's sleep, and helps establish a healthy sleep cycle. I also make sure to check my Fitbit app in the morning to see how much time I actually sleep and how safe my sleep is.
Carry the essentials with you.
I always keep my running shoes, the Fitbit Ionic (and its charger) and a running suit in my carry-on bag in case my bag gets lost on the road. If I'm going to a race, I'll also bring sports drinks, race bottles, and any other race day essentials. It's also a good idea to pack some self-massage tools, such as a foam roller or lacrosse. Relax your legs during a layover (if you're not afraid to stare!), or wait until you reach your destination.
Packaging high-quality protein
Foods high in carbohydrates are easy to find at airports and on the road, but high-quality protein can be hard to find. I especially want to avoid eating cheap meat before big games because of the potential for food poisoning. Since organic grass-fed meat is hard to come by in restaurants, I travel with protein powders, bars, and canned salmon to supplement my meals and make sure I can maintain my post-workout recovery.
advance route planning
Before I land (or even book accommodation), I search the digital map for green areas and use satellite mode to find paths and trails that may not be officially marked. If it's not obvious, I'll reach out to local runners or running shops to get a recommendation (or crowdsource on social media as a last resort). I have formed lasting friendships with some people who volunteer to be my local running guides.
Embrace the unknown
Part of the fun of running in a new place is that you never know what to expect. Your workout may not go exactly as planned, so it's important to set realistic expectations and accept risks. I recently completed a 20-mile run around the one-mile park loop in Bangkok, Thailand. There were so many people out there that I felt like I was playing a video game. My main goal is not to bump into other players. I ran across a mountain in Ethiopia and villagers met me at the top and cooked me a spicy stew with their hands. Of course, I've also had some less interesting experiences, like being cornered by a pack of mad dogs in Guatemala. Still, every action is an opportunity to engage (and take some steps at the same time) into a new place and culture, not just a bystander.