Facing a day of travel, time changes, and airport delays may not be the most glamorous part of my life as a professional cyclist on the Hagens Berman Supermint team. I essentially live out of a suitcase for the better part of seven months each year, never quite staying in one place long enough to unpack. We travel from home to airports to cars to host houses to other host houses and back.
I always imagined that travel days would be relaxing. You are pretty much sedentary all day - smushed between people on a plane, watching the cacti speed by from the car window, etc. Yet travel days no longer count as rest days in my training. Sometimes they are just as taxing to the body as a true training day! This year I have learned to stress less about training on travel days. Relax, arrive at your final destination, and ride/run/swim if possible. If not, go drink a beer.
Here are a few tips I have found that help to make travel days smoother while arriving to your final destination as fresh as possible:
Plan your nutrition.
Airport food is not only expensive but it is also easy to stray from your daily nutrition routine with the many unhealthy options available, Savannah’s Candy Kitchen (ATL airport terminal B), I’m looking at you. I always make sure to pack enough small meals so that I can be snacking every three hours. Make sandwiches, use leftover rice, cook up some eggs, and pack them all in a few small Tupperware to take with you on the plane (just remember TSA loves to take your snacks, one teammate had her watermelon slices taken away!). Once you arrive at your final destination these Tupperware can be re-used for post-race food.
I have this problem where I make a new music playlist, listen to the ten songs on repeat during multiple 5 hour rides, and then can’t listen to the songs again for a few months (but seriously, how many times can you hear Rihanna says “work, work, work, work, work”?). Podcasts are a great alternative to your overplayed music library! My top 3 favorites are Serial, Freakonomics, and This American Life. They come out with new ones every week and they are FREE.
My calves and ankles have this tendency to turn to cankles while flying. Maybe it’s the change in air pressure, the recycled airplane air, or the beginnings of my transformation into the Hulk after 27D coughed on me for the 1000th time. Compression socks always seem to slow the cankle formation and help my legs to feel better when I get on the bike after travel.
Bring a bottle.
Make sure to bring an empty water bottle through security so you can refill it before the flight. Staying hydrated is such an important part of travel. It helps your body to stave off whatever germs 27D is coughing onto you and helps to flush out toxins from training and travel.
Proteinex 2Go is not only for after training.
I use the Proteinex 2Go as a protein serving after traveling. Amino acids are widely accepted as being key in strengthening the body’s immune system. After running to the opposite end of LAX and stuffing that 50lb bag into the overhead bins all day, your body will thank you for giving it those tasty strawberry-flavored liquid aminos.
You can buy the top of the line bike, the lightest shoes, or the most streamlined goggles, but you can’t buy all of the hours of training in your body. Treat your body right to perform at your best!