Get packed and stay healthy
SO FAR in our three-part series on travelling tips for international competition we’ve provided you with the best advice on when to travel, how to acclimatise to the race conditions in advance, and methods to incorporate race specific sessions into your regular training.
In our final part, we’ll cover how to pack your gear, ways to stay healthy during your journey and minimise the effects of jet lag.
Leading into your travel, you’ll want to boost your immune system to avoid the increased risk of illness.
To do so I recommend taking a combination of vitamin C/multivitamin with zinc during the preceding three-four days. On the day of your flight, avoid any strenuous training as this may diminish your immune system and increase your risk of peripheral venous pooling.
Include your race day gear (eg. race kit, running and/or cycling shoes, goggles, race belt, pedals, gels, bars, electrolytes) in your carry on luggage. This helps to ensure that even if your checked-in luggage is lost or delayed (this happens regularly), you’ll still have the majority of your race equipment with you.
If travelling with a bike, ensure it’s well packed to minimise the chance of damage occurring during transit. For those not confident in your own packing ability, see your bike shop who will usually do this for a small fee.
Once on your flight, your focus should be on resting up and avoiding dehydration.
For rest, the use of sleeping tablets (whether prescription or over the counter) is often advised.
To stay hydrated, the first method is straight forward, drink plenty of fluids. And I don’t mean the free beer or wine!
Instead, ensure you have a drink bottle filled with electrolytes at all times and aim to drink 200-300ml per hour. In addition, regularly apply a thin layer of moisturiser over your body to minimise losing moisture through your skin and use a nasal decongestant spray (eg. frequent flyer nasal spray that can be bought from most chemists) which will help to guard against airborne bacteria, wash away any pollutants and keep your nasal passages hydrated.
Further, the use of a HumidiFlyer nasal mask will additionally help keep your airways hydrated and minimise your risk of illness.
Once at your destination, even if tired avoid the temptation to sleep during daylight hours as this will delay your body to reset its internal clock and therefore may increase symptoms of jet lag.
As your immune system may be diminished, avoid any strenuous activity for one-two days after arrival.
For your diet while at your destination, ensure you follow some simple food safety guidelines.
If the local water is unpalatable, only drink from sealed containers, avoid ice in drinks and ensure salads have been washed with bottled or boiled water. For food, avoid eating from “high-risk” areas such as street-side stalls and opt for freshly cooked and hot food over that which may have been sitting for hours.
Once settled at your destination, ensure all your equipment has arrived and is working. If not, source replacements or repairers as soon as possible and remember not to try anything new on race day unless unavoidable.
For the race, follow your regular warm-up and see the new challenge of racing on different terrain and against other competitors as a positive rather than being daunted, even if it is the world championships.
If you’re not confident pulling your bike down for travel, your local shop will do it for you. And if you don’t have a hard case, a cardboard box is actually a better option than the soft bags.