Get packed and stay healthy

Multisport Mecca - - Column - BRODIE GARD­NER Sport sci­en­tist, ex­er­cise phys­i­ol­o­gist and elite triath­lete

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.

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