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Race Travel…How Do You Do It?

I participated in a #bibchat last night (sponsored by Bib Rave!), and one of the questions that was posed was…

“How do you prepare for jet lag or time zone changes when traveling for a race?”

time zones

I remember my first race, Princess Half 2013. I was seriously down and back in just a couple of days. The day OF the race, I had to immediately fly back to PIT and drive back up to Edinboro for school. I was sore, tired, and, though I had just run my first 13.1, was rather aggravated that I couldn’t spend more time down there. I also underestimated my training for that race, having only done a 10-miler as my last long run. I was also recovering from wisdom tooth surgery and passing a kidney stone in the weeks prior to going. It hampered the training part quite a bit.

Since what happened during PHM 2013 didn’t quite work out, here is what I started doing in the races after:

*Stay hydrated and fed. This is a no-brainer. When your body’s hydration levels drop, you get moody, tired, and have headaches. When you’re on an airplane, these symptoms are multiplied. Same if you skip food. Guys…food is your friend, especially when it comes to curbing the hangries. Keep water and snackies handy, and don’t have too much coffee!

*Don’t be late. In fact, be early. I hate being late. I was always taught in marching band, “If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late. If you’re late, you’re toast.” (I despise how the current generation disregards the concept of punctuality, but that’s another post.) Anyyyyway, by arriving to the airport earlier than expected, you can guarantee that it will be a relatively smooth transition with parking, baggage check, pee stops, and finding the terminal. Being frazzled and stressed out in such a public area is never a good thing. I drove down I-79 from Edinboro to PIT this winter for Glass Slipper weekend, and it was like navigating the Millennium Falcon through lightspeed: full-blown blizzard. It took an extra hour to get there, but I was glad that I left when I did and took my time getting there.

*If you’re driving… Make sure you’re comfortable and well-rested! I drove from Washington D.C. to Fredericksburg, VA for the Marine Corps Historic Half in 2014, and I had about 4 hours of sleep the night before. I was essentially a zombie before, during, and after the race to the point where I almost rear-ended a car and had to stop somewhere for a nap. You may be excited to be in a new area (I was!) but don’t let the excitement deter you from getting much-needed sleep. Also have the directions on-hand or program your GPS prior to departure.

*Racecation it! The best advice I can give is to ENJOY YOUR RUN! For GSC 2014 and 2015, I made it a point to spend at least 5 days down in Florida. That way, I wouldn’t have to be worried about cramming everything in. My runDisney schedule looks like this:

Wednesday or Thursday: Fly down, get settled in.

Friday: Expo, rest.

Saturday: 10K, rest.

Sunday: PHM, EPCOT to shake out the legs and walk around

Monday: Pack stuff for airport, Magic Kingdom walkaround to shake out the legs, leave for MCO (yes, this involves camping out in the airport for a couple hours)

Tuesday: Fly out

Taking the extra time to walk around the parks saved my legs, and I’m not as sore or tired coming back home as I was PHM 2013.

Do you have any travel tips for runners? Let’s hear ’em!

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