How to Train for Marathons While Traveling

I am writing this while literally 30,000 feet in the air.

It’s been a busy week of travel — Monday and Tuesday in Washington, D.C., then back home for an 11-hour layover (seriously) before flying Wednesday to Las Vegas, where I worked — and exercised — until returning home Friday.

Traveling for work is not unusual for me. As a runner, I have learned how to properly prepare for maintaining my workout schedule whether I am on the island of Puerto Rico, in the mountains of Colorado or in chilly Des Moines in January. (Yes, I have been all of those places in the past year.)

Ten tips for successful marathon training while traveling

  1. The most important tip I can think of is to review your training schedule while planning and packing for your trip. If you have a long travel day and you don’t see how you can fit in other commitments along with your workout, consider making that your rest day and adjusting your schedule for that week.


  2. Once you have your itinerary — exercise and work and/or pleasure — check the weather (often) and bring whatever appropriate attire you may need to run outside. If you are staying at a hotel, check to make sure that it has a fitness center or arrangement with a local gym.


  3. Be flexible. Not a morning runner? You may have to be to meet your goals. During the workweek while I am at home, I almost always run or work out in the evening. While traveling, I often find it easier to start my day with a run, yoga routine or core workout, even though I am not a morning person.


  4. Do advance scouting of places to run. Ask at the front desk if they have recommendations of where to run. Or better yet, inquire at a locally owned running store. They might also have a group run you could join. And be adventurous — but safe — and go explore. I’ve had the pleasure of running around the memorials in Washington, D.C., in higher elevations in Colorado and New Mexico, and on the coasts of both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in the same month.


  5. Don’t forget your fuel, recovery preference and a water bottle —especially if you are running at a higher altitude than you usually do. I am an avid user of Ucan. When I travel, instead of packing a baggie with powder that may be suspicious to TSA security, I bring a pre-packaged single serving bag of Ucan. 


  6. Tucked in a packet in my backpack is a tennis ball. It’s a great conversation starter — “Why do you have a tennis ball in your backpack?” — but an even better way to rub out muscle soreness on the go. Lacrosse balls would work well, too.


  7. If you are dealing with an injury, be sure to pack whatever you need. I regularly bring already cut KT Tape for off-and-on Achilles soreness, as well as a foam roller. Don’t sweat it if you forget something. A good local running store should have what you need.



  8. Bring your race kit with you on the plane – even if you check a bag. You do not want to be without your stuff if your luggage gets lost. This suggestion comes from Foti Panagakos, another Marathon Training Academy member who is a frequent traveler. Learn more about Foti here.

  9. Bring good healthy food with you. Of course, this is easier if you are driving. However, I regularly bring lunch with me on the plane — peanut butter bagel and a piece or two of fruit. I also add bottles of water and sometimes fruit or nuts to the bag I check on the plane. By bringing enough quality food with me, I resist the temptation to buy something sugary, salty or high in calories at an airport or nearby fast-food joint. During my travels, eating at restaurants is a given. But by bringing as much food with me as possible, I can reduce the number of meals — and wasted calories — at restaurants.


  10. Don’t worry if it doesn’t work out. One missed run or workout won’t derail your plans.

These suggestions have helped me continue my training as I logged 25 trips throughout 2016. Even with extensive travel, it is possible to train for a marathon and change your life.

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