How to take a “Race-Cation” by Gaby Bunten
So you’ve finally made the plunge and signed up for destination race. Hooray! Traveling for a race can be one of the most gratifying gifts that any endurance sport has to offer. As a coach and athlete myself, I have traveled to several events in three different continents, as well as a myriad of others on American soil. Along the way I’ve learned my fair share of lessons on the in’s and out’s of traveling for race. Anything from, what to pack or tips to beat jetlag will be hurdles you’ll face. So, here are some tips and tricks for your “race-cation.” First off, be sure you know how long you need before the race to ensure you’re prepared before the gun goes off. For shorter races (anything less than a half-Ironman distance or half-marathon), you’re safe arriving 24-48 hours before the event. For a half-Ironman or half-marathon distances, I’d recommend allowing at least 48 hours before the race to allow time for packet pick-up, proper rest, “shake-outs” and properly scheduled meals. For a full ironman or marathon, arriving a minimum of 72 hours beforehand is ideal, with more distance to cover in your race, comes more prep time beforehand. If you’re traveling overseas, I’d recommend tacking on an additional 24 hours to each race distance to ensure you adjust to the time change. On that note, if you are tackling a large time zone change, for example, Australia or Hawaii even, you’ll want to allow the additional time to reset your “internal clock.” I have learned three things to help with this on the plane and at your immediate arrival. First, as soon as you get onto the plane, set your watch to local time of the city you are visiting. Second, try to select a flight that allows for an early evening arrival and stay up until 10 p.m. local time. If you must sleep during the day, take a short nap in the early afternoon, but no longer than two hours. Set an alarm to be sure not to over sleep. Anticipate the time change for trips by getting up and going to bed earlier 14
several days prior to an eastward trip and later for a westward trip. Last but not least, try to get outside in the sunlight as soon as you arrive. Daylight is a powerful stimulant for regulating the biological clock. Now that you’re signed up and you know how long you’ll be “race-cationing”, it’s time to pack! You’ll want to ensure you’ve packed everything you need for race day before you pack anything else. This way, you’ll be more likely to remember everything you need to have a successful race, as opposed to what you’ll wear on that hot date with your hubby or wife after the race. Don’t be afraid to write a list! Write out a list of everything you’ll need and check everything off as it goes into the bag. You’ll want to make sure you have ALL of your equipment, race day fuel and proper pre/post race clothing. Confirm that all of your nutrition is sealed and if liquid, like a gel pack, is less than 3.4 ounces.
socks to help with proper blood flow to your lower extremities. If you can, get up every hour or two to stretch. If you are taking an evening flight where you will be sleeping, be sure to bring an eye mask and some noise-cancelling headphones so you can get some shut-eye without being disturbed by the “Chatty Cathy” next to you or the constant flushing of the toilets behind you. Finally, and I cannot stress this enough, HYDRATE! It’s welldocumented how dehydrating recirculating cabin air can be, and if you’re a few days out from a big race, there’s no better time to start making headway into your fluid levels than while you’re stuck in seat 17B. Now that you’re packed, knowledgeable, loose and hydrated, make sure to enjoy your racecation! Whether you’re traveling solo or the whole family is along, soak in the opportunity you have to travel to a new location and participate in an event you love. Now, go get that PR!
Once you’re packed and ready to rock’n’roll, take the time to learn about the culture of the city, and/ or foreign country you’ll be staying. Questions you may want to research range from; is it a safe city to run in alone, is the city known for its summer thunderstorms or erratic weather patterns, what is the cuisine like and, where are popular areas to bike and/or run? Have knowledge of these details before you go to ensure a relaxed trip! When it comes to finally hit the road, whether you’re flying or driving, treat your travel day like a recovery day. Getting in a light stretch and a short shake-out swim, bike or run, before the flight is key. While you’re waiting at the gate or find yourself at a truck stop, do some stretches and mobility work in the gate area focusing on your hip flexors, hamstrings and calves. You can use a small massage contraption during the flight like tennis balls or a lacrosse ball for mobility work or before take-off. Once you get on the plane, take off your shoes and put on compression
Gaby holds a Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology from Iowa State University. She grew up in the pool, competitive swimming for over 9 years. But, during college she transitioned to triathlon and has been competing for six years. As an athlete she has accumulated USAT All-American rankings, Podium finishes at USAT Group Nationals and Age Group ITU World Championships, as well as competing at the 70.3 World Championships. Three years ago, Gaby began her coaching career to help spread the love and her knowledge of the sport to others. She works for Final K Sporting Services. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org for comments, questions, or coaching inquiries.