Having just flown the length of Britain to go a race, I thought I would share my musings on traveling long distance for a race.
1. Check in early
I was recently bumped off an overbooked (Easyjet) flight for work. This was an inconvenience for me, but if I had been traveling for a holiday or race, it could have been a disaster. If I had checked in online, I would have dodged the check-in line at the airport, guaranteed and even selected my seat. If you are traveling long haul, then spending a few extra £££ to choose an ideal seat is worth it. Top tip – pick one towards the front as you will board last/disembark first and you will get first pick of the meal choices! If you’re really impatient, select a speciality meal and you will get served first.
2. Research, research, research
By finding out as much as possible about your race destination, you will de-stress what will already be a tiring journey. How will you make the transfer to your accommodation, what is the course like, what nutrition will be provided, can you get bike spares easily and so on. Will you be able to eat your normal diet, or should you pack accordingly? Is the water drinkable, or will you be lugging around bottled water?
3. Arrive early
Unlike the pros, we don’t have the luxury of arriving to a venue weeks in advance. Presuming this is an important race as you have travelled a long way, don’t jeopardise your performance by being jet-lagged or unacclimatised on race day. The advice is that your body clock can adjust by one time zone per day and will take 7-10 days to become acclimated to a much hotter/humid/cold environment than your home. You can start adjusting your body clock 2-3 days before you go by altering your bed and wake times, and when you eat your main meals. Certainly, adjust your watch to your new time zone as soon as you board the plane. And when you reach your destination, I recommend a light run in the fresh air to ease swollen and stiff legs, and trying to resist napping to help your body clock reset. For full acclimatisation, I suggest you speak to a doctor or physical trainer. Getting there early also allows you to check out the course, meet other competitors and relax!
4. Pack your bike safely
Modern bike boxes are brilliant but the same can’t be said for baggage handlers. Carefully dismantle your pride and joy, wrap in towels, bubble wrap, pipe insulation and fit soft clothes and other kit in around your bike. The weakest part is your rear derailleur and if you unscrew it from the frame and wrap it up, it is less likely to get damaged. Also buy some “travel” skewers because I have had them bent in transit as they protrude outside of the box. Another recommendation if you are worried about your bike not making it to the same destination is to travel with your bike shoes, pedals and helmet in your hand luggage; at least you could borrow/rent a bike and still be comfortable.
5. Post-race plans
Whether you are on your own or traveling with friends and family, please make time after the event to reward them/you and relax. Enjoy the location, do some unstructured exercise, and let go a little. Your immune system will be suppressed post-race, and if you jump right back onto an aeroplane to get home, I guarantee you will get sick. Remember, for most of us, it is just a hobby, so plan in some down time after all races – it will help sell it to your loved ones for the next “race-cation”!
As always, I value your feedback, so please feel free to contact me. I am also taking on more athletes so if you need swim, bike or run coaching, nutritional advice or just some biohacking lifestyle tips, get in touch.
How will you self-improve today?