When working out and/or training for a race becomes part of your lifestyle, you have to find ways to fit things in when you travel. Whether it’s a business trip or a vacation, I always plan to workout when I’m away from home. It’s as simple as throwing my running shoes and some workout clothes into by suitcase. Scoping out the exercise room is one of my first priorities when I arrive at my destination. I will usually try to run outside, but if I want to get in a bike workout, lift some weights, or find that rare place to swim, I have to know what my options are so that I can plan accordingly.
I’ve been traveling a lot lately. In the past two weeks, I have been in four different cities. I’ve managed to get a least a run in during each trip. When my family and I went to Daytona Beach last week, it seemed like each of my workouts came with a story for me to tell when I got back to the room. I do almost everything early in the morning. My alarm goes off at 4:30AM each day (yes, even on vacation) and I’m usually out the door or on the bike trainer a few minutes before five.
Even when I’m running outside from home, it’s usually a pretty lonely experience. If it’s a Saturday or Sunday morning, I might see a few people leaving bars on Baxter Avenue or if it’s a weekday, there might be someone waiting for the first TARC bus to come along, but for the most part, I have very little interaction with other people while out and about at 5:00AM.
This wasn’t the case while in Daytona Beach. The first morning I went out for a run I was standing on the sidewalk outside our condo waiting for my GPS watch to sync with the satellites when a car driving by slowed down and honked. As I looked up, the car pulled a U-Turn in the middle of the road and headed back in my direction. When the driver pulled up next to me I really wasn’t sure what to expect. When the passenger side window rolled down, I could see that it was a woman driving. She said “Hey, come here.” and motioned for me to come closer. As I hesitantly approached the car, she asked me if I knew where the Twilight Hotel was. When I told her that I did not and that I was from out of town, she asked where I was from. Then she told me that she was just getting off of work from the strip club and was “looking for a party.” She asked me what I was doing out so late and I had to fill her in on the fact that I was not the wild and crazy guy that I appeared to be and that I was in fact not out late, but up early. I guess my tank top and running shorts are normal attire for someone that lives in Florida where the low overnight is 75F. She gave me a strange look, but didn’t give up on me yet. She then said “Are YOU looking for a party?” as she gave me a wink. I couldn’t help by chuckle as I told her that I wasn’t and that I was just going to go ahead and go for a run. She told me to have fun and then smiled as she drove off. I guess she was just playing the odds that a guy standing on the sidewalk by himself at 4:45AM on a Tuesday morning would be interested in a “party”!
Another morning I decided to go for a run on the beach. The sand is a great surface to run on and I really enjoy hearing the sound of the waves as I run down the shore. This particular morning, there was only a small sliver of a moon, so it was pretty dark. I didn’t bring my headlamp, so I was relying on the little bit of light coming from the condos, hotels and houses that line the beach to light my way. Worst thing that could happen is I step in a hole and do a face plant in the sand, right? As I was finishing up a four mile run, I heard the footsteps of an animal and I saw the silhouette of something running toward me. I stopped running about the same time as the first bark came out. I realized that it was a dog about a split second before he lunged at me. I jumped back and to the side to avoid him, but he came right back at me and snapped at me as his paws hit my stomach. I had my hands up and open and was telling the dog “easy” and “it’s ok”. I saw that it was a Boxer and I could see his teeth in what little light there was. After he jumped at me two or three more times I tried to steal a quick glace away from him to see if I saw his owner anywhere. I saw no one and he wasn’t letting up. As I contemplated my next move (possibly attempt to pull a Steven Seagal and break the dog’s neck), I yelled “Who’s dog is this!!”. Out of darkness came a voice. “Come here ______”. I don’t remember the dog’s name, but his owner didn’t seem too concerned about the fact that his dog was attacking me. I yelled again “Get your dog off of me!”. His only response was “He won’t bite.”. I found this hard to believe at the time since he was jumping at me, growling and showing his teeth (a sign of aggression). As the owner got closer, the dog stopped jumping but was still growling and was in a stance like he was ready to take a chunk out of my ass. The owner then said “It’s ok, he’s friendly.”. Really?!? He doesn’t look too damn friendly to me at the moment. When I responded by saying “You may not think he bites, but he was snapping at me.”, the owner said, “Well, you probably just scared him.”. So let me get this straight, I scared the dog? The dog and his owner walked off down the beach with no apology and left me standing there (yes, I expected the dog to say he was sorry). I thought about letting this dude have it, but I decided to just continue my run. It was kind of funny to see that my heart rate jumped up to 170 while I was dealing with this mutt!
The good news about the place where we stayed is that the workout room has a stationary bike similar to the ones that are used in Spin Classes. That means that it closely mimics the dimensions of a road bike and had an adjustable seat and handlebars. The bad news is that the workout room technically doesn’t open until 7:00AM, and since it has lots of windows and the sun comes up at 6:30AM, there are no lights in the room! Of course, this is no deterrent for a dedicated triathlete like myself. I rode the bike in the dark listening to podcasts on my phone two different mornings.
Swimming in the pool gets boring, so anytime I’m near a large body of water, I try to get in an open water swim. I’ve attempted to swim in the ocean several different times over the years with mixed results. The last time I was in the Atlantic Ocean, I got caught in the rip current and was being pulled out to sea before having to swim as hard as I could for about five minutes to get out of it. Not a great feeling and something that I didn’t want to repeat. So when I had a chance one afternoon last week to go for a swim while the kids were napping, I checked the flags on the beach and saw that they were red, meaning “rough conditions / strong currents”, I decided to drive over to the Halifax River and take a dip. I parked near a place where I thought I could walk in pretty easily. I quickly discovered that it was very muddy as my foot sunk in down to past my ankle. No big deal, I just kept walking out into the water. I was about 50 yards off of the shore and it was still only knee deep – not deep enough to swim in. As I kept walking, I started to step on broken shells, rocks and coral. Each step was slightly painful, but it was getting deeper, so I kept going. I finally made it out to where it was waist deep and decided to swim. There were some boats out, so I didn’t want so swim out toward the middle of the river. I felt safe just going between a dock and another shore (not the one I just walked from). So I swam back and forth seven times in this little area. Once I had about 20 minutes of swimming in, I decided that was enough. When I got out of the water and started to walk back to my car, I realized just how cut up the bottom of my feet were. As I write this, it’s been six days and I still have a pretty deep cut on the bottom of my left foot that doesn’t want to heal up!
Training while out of town isn’t easy, but it adds some excitement and I really enjoy mixing it up and running in new places. So when you find yourself away from home, don’t use it as an excuse to skip your workout…who knows, you may be solicited by a prostitute or attacked by a dog!
- What gear do you need to complete your workouts? Do you need to bring multiple changes of clothing or do you have access to laundry?
- Does your hotel have exercise facilities?
- Ask locals for the best places to rent bikes, the best bike trails, areas to run, etc.
- If you prefer to run outdoors, plan your exact routes. Print maps out if you need to. This will allow you to familiarize yourself with the area in case you make a wrong turn.
- Make sure to stay hydrated! Traveling, especially on airplanes, dehydrates your body and can make you feel less than 100%.
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