I woke this morning to the sound of a train. A large freight train, probably headed for some Midwest junction loaded with pallets of iron and steel to feed our staggering economy. It was 4:30 am (eastern standard time) when I looked down on the clanging string of box cars from my 18th floor hotel room. It was still dark out and exactly 5 hours before my normal waking hour.
Over the years I’ve learned a little bit about running and traveling. The main thing is that all the sage advice I’ve received over the years, and all the sound training tips I’ve followed, when traveling, I can throw these things out the window.
Like getting enough sleep. I don’t know how many times I’ve read that I need 8 hours of sleep each night, especially when running a lot. It’s all about recovery they say. Hell, when I’m traveling, if I get 5 hours of sleep per night I’m not just feeling good, I’m feeling guilty. Trains, time zones, early flights, business dinners, meetings, jet lag, noisy hotel rooms, arid hotel rooms, caffeine, all of these things, they just suck the sleep right out of me.
Or eating a healthy, balanced diet. You know, the kind with lots of fruits and vegetables, protein, not too much fat and always enough fiber. Ehhh…on the road? Does red wine, New York strip steak, mashed potatoes, gravy and crème brulee qualify as a balanced training meal? Maybe for a Henry the Eighth jousting battle but probably not for the next 100k. I know, I need to be more creative with my meals. But I’m traveling in the mid west people!
Another is getting quality workouts. This one is a joke. Just when I’m supposed to be doing hill training to prepare for a race in the mountains, I’m running on bike path next to a river in Ohio. When I’m supposed to be building my skill on technical trails riddled with rocks, I’m running through an airport terminal trying to avoid security. It sounds absurd, but there is a certain beauty in absurdity. And, yes, I’m proud to have been stopped by airport security on more than one occasion! For me, it doesn't really matter—whether I’m training after a good night’s sleep and a helping of barley juice on a pristine trail overlooking some awe-inspiring mountain range, or red eyed with indigestion in the airport parking garage in Chicago, I’m still running.
If I have the right perspective, I often find there are just as many interesting things to experience when running in less ideal places and conditions. In fact, when traveling, I find these unfamiliar places often have a little more flavor—with a little more indigestion, of course.