Tackling Time Zones
Triathlonculture is growing annually and new races are popping up all over the world. An in- depth travel plan is necessary so that you arrive at your race destination in peak shape and ready to go. The following 10 tips will help you to achieve that.
1.Don’t leave any course-specific training until the last minute. You need to know the terrain and the climate of your destination race. This means you and your coach may have to incorporate some heat or altitude training in your plan weeks before you leave. For example, if you live in a predominantly flat area and are doing a hilly event, you will need to simulate some hill training by lower cadence workouts or treadmill runs. If possible, incorporate a training camp into your schedule where there are lots of hills and/or the climate/altitude is similar to your destination event.
Booking your flight.
2.A few things to consider when booking your f light: know your departure time from home but also the arrival time at your destination including time changes. While the relative spaciousness of first- class seating is out of most people’s price range, it is worth trying to get an emergency row seat as it has more leg room. You will also want to minimize the transfers and layovers.
3.A general rule of thumb is that it will take one day of recovery or adjustment for every time zone travelled. In other words, if you have travelled through six times zones you don’t want to arrive at your destination four days before the event. You will want to arrive at a minimum six days early but optimally even more that that so you have a few days to get in some more quality training to really feel primed and ready. If possible, try to start adjusting to the time zone before you leave by going to bed and getting up either earlier or later depending on the direction you are travelling. You may even want to eat closer to your new time zone meal times as well.
Choose your lodging carefully.
4.You need to consider whether being close to the race site is the best place to be. If you arrive quite early to your destination then perhaps an optimal training location is a better choice. You do not want to be in the centre of a busy city with nowhere to run, ride or swim with days or weeks to spare before your event. You will want to scout out a pool or open water swim location close to you. Maybe there is no training option and you will have to consider finding a spinning studio.
Food and groceries.
5.You may not be used to the local cuisine at your destination race. Avoid trying anything different close to your event. Save this for after. You should research where you can find a grocery store and if they provide food that you are accustomed to. Ideally, your lodging has a kitchen of some sort. Consider bringing some specialty food items with you from home that you might not be able to get on the road. If you do this you will need to find out the restrictions on food for the airline that you are travelling with.
Make a checklist.
6.Big races will usually have a large expo but you will want to minimize any running around and added stress as much as possible. Bring everything that you need and extras with you if you can. Things such as an extra pair of goggles, a wetsuit even if there is a chance that it will be a non-wetsuit swim, bike tools, long valve tubes, tubulars or your own sports drink and nutrition are just a few things to add to your checklist.
Find a bike store.
7.Research the area and find a local bike store that can provide the service of putting your bike back together for you and be sure to book an appointment before you go. Better yet, learn how to put it back together yourself (see Tara Norton’s ‘ Tips for Packing Your Bike for Travel’ on p.52). It is usually just a matter of learning how to put on your handlebars, pedals, seat and wheels.
While you are in the airport and on the plane.
8.Bring food with you if you can. Wear compression socks to help with blood f low in your legs during the f light. Bring hand sanitizer and your own electrolyte drink. Change your watch to the destination time zone as soon as you get on the plane. It might be worth taking extra immune boosters such as vitamin C. Have a predominantly carbohydrate- based meal early in the f light to help with sleep and a largely proteinbased meal close to arrival to perk you up. Avoid alcohol and try to stretch and walk around frequently if you are not sleeping.
First day of arrival.
9.Try not to nap on the day you arrive so that you adjust to the time change faster. Go to a museum or art gallery to do some easy walking to loosen up and stay awake. An easy, short jog or ride is also a good idea to get the blood circulation back into your legs. Locate your grocery store, bike store, training locations and race venue to minimize foot travel closer to the race.
Leading up to the race.
10.During your training sessions at the destination, practise on the race course at the same time of day that you will be racing if possible. Knowing the course will both mentally and physically prepare you for the event. Things like knowing where the sun will be in the swim, if there is a predominant wind, bumps in the road and shade on the run will give you an advantage on race day. Stick to the plan you and your coach have laid out. Make sure to keep up the intensity so that you stay sharp for race day. Avoid as much distraction as possible.
Being prepared is the key to a successful execution of your training at a destination race. Eliminating unnecessary stress is the goal. Following these 10 tips will help you to achieve that and set you up for optimal racing. Go out there, race hard and have fun. Make sure to recover properly especially if it’s not the last race of the season. Book some extra time to relax and take advantage of the location after the event, you deserve it. LifeSport triathlon coach Jessica Adam loves to share her years of experience with beginner and experienced triathletes alike. Her email is Jess@LifeSportCoaching.com.