Building fitness while traveling / in a hotel

Woo hoo!!!  I’m officially in to the Pikes Peak double.  Both of my entries were verified over the past day or so.  I wasn’t overly concerned, but there was always that off chance that I fat-fingered one of my qualification links or something…but luckily all is good.  No turning back now!

I’ve spent the first few days of this week in a hotel outside Philadelphia.  Actually really close to where I grew up.

Since I started this new job, I’ve been on the road for at least a couple days during 3 of the first 4 weeks.  It’s become really important for me to figure out how to build, not just maintain, fitness while I’m traveling.

After a few weeks of experimenting, I’m slowly getting the hang of it.  That’s not to say I’ve got it figured out, but I definitely have a good sense of what I should do when traveling.

Here are some things that I found to be helpful thus far…

1.)  Bring some key food items, supplement with a grocery store.

Depending on how long I will be in a place, I’ve found it very useful (and much less expensive) to actually buy a small handful of groceries while I’m in a hotel.  This is much easier if you have a fridge in the room.  But just buying a few groceries really helps keep things on track.  It prevents the room service mentality as well as the inevitable junk food.

I’ve really been bringing only one “key food item” — sardines.  Yeah, sardines.  They’re almost perfect from a nutrition standpoint, and they’re really portable.  The only problem is that it’s really not fair to eat these in close proximity to others (like on an airplane).  I guess you I might also consider fish oil pills as another key item.

Grocery-wise, I’ve focused on greek yogurt, a few pieces fruit and (if I need dinner) some salad makings.  All of that stuff is easy to find and not too hard to manage.

For this most recent trip, I spent less than $20 on enough to give me 4 meals.

2.)  Use the treadmill and hotel stairs.

Especially when I have to get out for an early meeting and it’s dark outside, the treadmill can be a friend.  When I’m in a hotel, I try to be off the treadmill by 5:30 am or so…that’s when it starts to get crowded.

This trip, the hotel treadmill kicked me off after an hour of running.  I could have hopped on another treadmill I guess, but I had to shut the workout down anyway because I was running late.

Hotel stairs would also be a good idea.  Oddly, when I asked the front desk where the stairs were, they claimed that there “weren’t any.”  Hmmm.  Kind of impossible…there have to be stairs in case of fire.  I just moved on.

3.)  Create a strength workout that’s possible in your room, the fitness center or outside the hotel

My strength workout is coming into form.  This week, it consisted of the following:

This workout was about 1 hr, 20 minutes end to end, including time trying to find a good place to do my leg strength stuff.  I hoped to use the fitness center but it was too small.  Eventually I think this workout could take about an hour total.  That’s a nice short amount of time.

The jumprope is awesome.  It’s not much to bring and can contribute to both a strength workout or a warmup/cooldown.  Today’s jump rope session was 5 x (50-both feet / 20 right / 20 left / 50-both feet).  Total I got 500 jumps with both feet and 100 one legged with each foot.  Not bad.

My strength workout today was with body weight only.  Still a bit conservative…trying to avoid injury.

Also had a weird experience yesterday.  It’s hot in Philly.  I got a quick afternoon run in and was pretty warm.  I was looking forward to a nice cool shower.  I turned on the shower and got nothing but hot water–it went from warm to hot.  That was the fastest shower I’ve ever taken, and I ended up having to sit in front of the air conditioner for about 15 minutes to make sure I cooled down afterwards.  The front desk had no clue what was going on.  My suspicion is that the water tank is on top of the hotel, so as the day heats up the water gets really hot.  I was on a high floor, so I’m guessing it just didn’t cool off as it came into my room.

I realized when I took my job that I’d have to travel.  It’s not ideal, but if I’m going to do it, I’ve got to make the best of it.  When I’m on the road, I try to do nothing but work, work out and sleep.  If I can do that, I feel like I can maximize the time I spend away from my family.  Then I can spend more time with family when I get home.  It ain’t perfect, but it can be made to work.  Actually it can work pretty well.


Saturday running, thoughts on strength training

Went for a short run today, more of a scouting expedition.  Definitely feeling some fatigue so I wanted to take it easy.  Just over an hour, call it 7 miles.  I was looking for a few things:

  • a soft surface with a very slight downhill over a quarter mile or so
  • a really steep hill or two

I found both of what I was looking for in some local parks.  I plan to use the downhill for fast running.  I want to be able to teach my body learns the feel of fast running.  Neuromuscular stuff.  The steep hill will be used for steep hill sprints, essentially a form of strength training.  I managed to locate two steep hills, one that I could run in about 12 seconds and the other that would take about 30 seconds.

The steep hill sprints had me thinking more about strength training.  I  know it’s good (probably mandatory at my age), but I can’t wrap my mind around just lifting weights.  I’ve never done it consistently, and it was one of the main reasons I quit football in high school.  I didn’t want to be in the gym.  I think back then it was more because I was self conscious.  Now I just think there are so many other interesting things to do.

For me right now the strength training will happen, but it’ll take a few different forms.  The first will be the steep hill sprints I mentioned above.  The second will be just outside work.  I have rocks and trees all over my property, and I think I can get a great leg strength workout by moving those.  One example—I could load up my yard cart with fire wood and drag it up my driveway.  I could also see myself moving heavier branches and logs across the yard to my outside fire pit—I could figure out a way to work squats into that mix.  It would accomplish a few purposes…getting me outside, building strength, cleaning up the property…all good.

I also switched up my pre-run ritual today.  Most of the time I like to stretch (I’m a bit obsessive about active isolated stretching) before I run.  It’s more of a mental thing at this point; almost everyone agrees that you don’t need to stretch before you run.  Today I did something different….jump rope, the lunge matrix and some aspects of the myrtl routine.  It was good to get a quick warmup and then get going, and I could see myself doing these things when I get home.  I am neurotic, so I did manage to sneak in a stretching session later in the day.

Speaking of steep hills, I was fascinated by this video which describes some stuff that Blake Griffin does.

“If you can run up a 60 degree incline in sand with a 60 pound weight vest then running 94 feet down the court on a flat surface should be easy.”