BY DR. LISBETH HOYT, PT & DPT
Signed up for a race that’s taking you out of town? Whether it’s a new destination or a place you’ve been to before, a destination race requires more planning and expert packing. Here are some tips and tricks to make race travel as easy as possible:
- Carry on your race gear: We all know that checking bags can be a gamble, even without a connecting flight. Don’t give yourself any extra stress; pack all of your race day essentials in a carry-on. This includes throw-away clothes, all race day outfit choices, shoes, fueling, and your race day breakfast (if you plan to bring your own). If the last few major marathons have taught us anything, be over-prepared for any and all weather changes.
- Compression: Even if you have a short flight, wear compression socks and leggings on the plane. Foot and leg swelling is extremely common during a flight, typically due to sitting still for so long and cabin pressure changes. Wearing compression socks keeps the pressure on your veins and leg muscles which helps keep the blood flowing a little more steadily. This will keep your legs feeling as fresh and will decrease the risk of any pre-race aches and pains.
- Hydrate: Extra hydration in the week leading up to a big race becomes even more important if your travel involves a flight. The air that’s cycled through a plane cabin is much drier than the air on the ground. So while you breathe out moisture-filled air, you breathe in dry air throughout the length of your flight. If you don’t replace the water you lose, you’ll become dehydrated. Bring your own water bottle if you hate paying airport prices and refill it right before getting on the plane, and don’t be shy in asking the flight attendants for water multiple times.
- Don’t be a tourist: Do some research ahead of time of places you’d like to see and things you’d like to do, but wait until AFTER your race is over to do them, especially if it involves a lot of walking around. If you’re trying to cram a brand new city into a race weekend, look into bus or boat tours that allow you to sit the majority of the time. Don’t sabotage yourself by tiring yourself out before you get to the starting line.
- Food: Dietary restrictions? Favorite food brands? Specific race day foods rituals? If these don’t exist in another country (for example, Justin’s peanut butter, my favorite), pack them in your suitcase! It may be weird to travel with a loaf of bread, but it’ll save you the stress of finding a grocery store when you land. FYI: peanut butter counts as a liquid in a carry-on.
- Jet lag: This is especially important if you’re traveling internationally. Plan your pre-race flight with enough time to acclimate to the time zone. If your work schedule allows it, try to shift your bedtime and morning routine to get you closer to the time zone you’re flying to. Most of us can’t change our daily schedule that drastically, but if you have a flexible work situation give it a try to decrease jet lag effects. If jet lag typically affects you for a few days, make sure you get some good nights of sleep in before you leave.
Most importantly- have fun! Take the time to appreciate and enjoy the fact you get to run in a brand new city, experience a new culture, and see how other cities celebrate running.