Wednesday, January 15, 2014

13 Training Tips While Travelling

Happy New Year! Challenging year ahead in terms of training, life and work. But as they old adage says, if life gives you lemon, cut it up and suck it all in (lemonade is too mainstream). With Week 13 slotted to be a "rest week", I decided to skip the planned rest and use it to see what improvisation I would need to continue training when away from home. This came in nicely with a few friends asking me for help/tips on maintaining the momentum while travelling for work.
Destination For The Week
Cebu Island. The second biggest city in Philippine. Devastated by Typhoon recently and picking up their life again. Specifically, I will be in Mactan. A few airlines has direct flight there and from Malaysia, Air Asia serves it as a daily flight - likely for the business community than for tourism.
Goodbye KL. 
Flight takes about 4hours and you can imagine what was playing in my mind - HOW to get through 4-hours sitting down not doing anything??? While it may seem impossible, you can actually (Tip 1) use the opportunity for Stretching. Yeap, I use it to loosen my hamstrings by putting one leg over the other and bend infront. That helped loosening tight over trained muscles and tendon.
To the annoyance of the air crew, I did paced up and down the plane once the "take off your seatbelt sign" blinks. Luckily the flight wasn't full and the crews were pretty free after serving the (prepaid) meals on board. Since airline food will not taste good anyway, (Tip 2) Do not order or buy anything to eat when onboard. If you must, bring some snacks (though they won't be happy) and limit them to nuts and raisins. Once they see you munching on those and not a fastfood meal, they will let you off. Seriously. I meant, healthy food makes people (looking at you) confused, and they will not ask you to put them away. Yes, I packed a full 250grams of nuts and raisins for this trip. (Tip 3) Snack healthily!
Journey To The Hotel
When I landed and on my way to the hotel, I started scanning the road ahead of me. Doing some homework before arrival, I know the hotel and airport is just about 5km away from each other. That provides me a decent 10km run within 1-hour at most if I chose to run outside. With that in mind, I paid extra attention to the road condition.
Out of Airport. OK. Cycling is possible. Got road buffer.
Potentially friendly locals.
Road buffer missing. Flagging this already after 1.5km from Airport. Passing the airport Jet-A1 depot
Reckless Jeepney at road shoulder...uh oh...
Crazy traffic...How many lanes are there on a two-lane road??? I counted 4-lanes in 2-lanes!
Road buffer is someone's home...
Too tight of a space
After 10minutes of driving from the airport, I've pretty much written off the possibility of running on the road. I will stick out like a sore-thumb amongst the local running along as I've noticed no one does it. Not worth the risk at this point of time, i reckon.
Sizing Up The Hotel
The meeting was scheduled to be at one of the best resort in Mactan. Shangri-La Resort where it faces the beautiful beach and sea. I know I won't be enjoying it both due to the work/meeting nature that will lock me in the room between 8am to 7pm everyday. With this hotel being a "Full-Fledged" resort, I know the gym will be a good one. (Tip 4) Research on the Hotel's facilities before landing so you (Tip 5) pack the right things. For this trip, I packed in my luggage bag :
- Running shoe Skechers GoBionicRide
- Running Shorts x 2
- Running Singlet x 2
- Swimming trunk x 1
- Swimming goggle Aquasphere Kaiman
- Swimming earplugs
Lucky for me, the hotel comes with a 150m2 "Health Club".
photo from Shangri-la Mactan
Some hotel has gym that opens 24hours. This one operates from 6am to 10pm. That meant I get an hour of workout every morning or evening if I wanted to. Lets see how this play out. But before that...some photo sharing of this resort.
Room 5106 - facing the hotel roof. Skip.
I will soon reduce my toiletries to my own toothbrushes when travelling. Lighter weight
The lobby
The indoor park with real trees
And the tight security in and out of the resort
The Modified Training
An hour after I've checked in and cleared the last (6pm) email for the day, I kit up and headed to the Gym. As with every place that can call themselves a "gym", they will have two very basic equipment - a treadmill and a spinning bike. Of course the compulsory weight stations and if you are lucky a cross-trainer. However, as the training I am in concentrate on Swimming, Biking and Running, I will use whatever machines there are in the gym as baseline for training. Here are my 5-days training.
Treadmill: Making The Most out of it
Treadmill is an assisted machine powered by a motor to keep the rubber moving. You then step on it and move along. Treadmill is about 20% easier compared to running on road and they are usually flat or inclined. You can not simulate a "downhill" scenario on treadmill unless you suddenly bump the speed up to 18km/h for maximum effect. At best, it gives you a good cardio workout. At worse, it gives you an impression you did a workout. The best way to get the most out of a treadmill is to perform High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) or do a progressive load workout where the intensity increases the longer you run.
If you can put in a HITT, a tempo and a progressive, you are good for 3-workout. That was exactly what I did.
Hammer Time
(Tip 6) Note on progressive load : very much like lifting, you increases the "weight", in this case the speed as you lessen the "reps" in this case, duration. I started off with a 6:00 pace (super easy) and move towards the treadmill maximum speed (19km/h). Here are the distance (pace) : 1km (6:00) - 1km (5:00) - 800m (4:30) - 800m (4:00) - 400m (3:45) - 400m (3:30) - 200m (3:15) - 200m (3:15) - 100m (3:15) - 100m (3:15). Yes, the unit paced out at 3:15 or 19km/h. Reason why pro runners can't run on treadmill - it's simply NOT fast enough for them.
All blurry at Max Speed
(Tip 7) Note on HIIT : The whole purpose of Intensity training is to race the heart, allow it to cool down a little before revving it on high RPM again. Done right, you will get a pump. Key point to remember is that the speed will be similar to progressive load, but what happen is during the "slow" phase, you slow down to 10seconds slower than the last fast. Example : 6:00 - 5:30 - 5:40 - 5:00 - 5:10 - 4:30 - 4:40 - 4:15  - 4:25 - 4:00. As you get fitter, the interval become a blur where you tend to overlap either one speed and before you know it, the whole run become a speedwork at a fast speed (and that is the intention).
(Tip 8) Note on Tempo : Treadmill are tempo-king. Set it to be at your best 10km pace and go for it. 

Biking : Recumbent or Upright Spinner?
Bike spinner is the easiest exercise you can do in the gym. Many do not crank the resistance up and hence "going through the motion" and calling it a "workout". Get that out of your mind and go onto the machine as if you will be sprinting away. (Tip 9) Get In, get it done, get out. Spending more time in the gym will NOT increase your fitness. Do some real work and if the exercise is seen as "easy", make it hard. 
Recumbent Bike : (Tip 10) Saving Your Hamstrings
No secret that my hamstrings has been screaming for some help being super tight and overused. Recumbent bike, or bike that allows you to sit down will load more work onto your quads than the hamstrings. Done right, you get the burn in your quads and at the same time offload the stress from the hamstrings. Crank up the intensity and maintain the 90-110 cadence to get the maximum out of it. Make sure it's set to the resistance you know you will break a sweat - you don't get fitter by cheating, so do yourself a big favour, keep it real!
Getting the burn
Just like running on the treadmill, Recumbent bike allows the same type or level of workout such as interval and tempo. (Tip 11) Plan the training before you go onto the bike and stick with it. For this trip, I managed to squeeze in five sessions of recumbent bike - mainly because it gives me the most burn and still allow me the needed saddle time for my triathlon. Each session is 30mins with exception of one session where I wanted a tempo (longer) workout. 
Flight Deck
Swimming : Pool or Beach?
Not many of us would be lucky to be posted for work where the beach is right next to the Hotel.
Click on the photo for full panoramic view of the resort beach side
Well, as luck has it, the management do not allow swimmer in the sea without a life vest, no matter how I tried to convince the lifeguard I am a triathlete (you see, he is one also having done Cebu 70.3). I initially had the plan to swim almost 190m length of the sea and it did excite me - crystal clear water in a tropical island. Fish swimming in the sea with me as I clock in the mileage. Perhaps closest I could get to experience a "Kona" like race.
As seen from Google Earth
So i resorted to swimming laps in the pool. (Tip 12) Know the length of the pool as you will then use it to plan your training. A few sections of the odd-shaped pool and the sea-facing pool has a straight line distance of 25 to 35meters. That play out well as I jumped into the water at 6am (when it open for use) and complete a 1000m swim before heading for my meeting. The thing about swimming is the time it takes to get there, prepare, jump in and swim. Then getting out, get back to the room. A typical 30mins will take 45mins including swim. So, always give yourself the (Tip 13) time to prepare for the swim and getting out. As much as I love to continue to clock in the training, I had to go as I need to remember I was not there for a holiday, but for work.
Getting wet
So you have it, 13 tips on training when you are travelling, more so for work where there isn't much to do before and after the work sessions. While the above may not be perfect, I did managed to clock in very decent mileage for my Week13 of Ironman training. It is no fluke that I managed that as it all boils down to yourself and self discipline. No doubt you be tired - and that is the single easiest excuse to give yourself. 
Ironman Training Week 13
6:30hours 146km. All in Cebu
It was almost like breaching a plateau in training. Just when I thought I needed the break something happened. While the trip did trigger (primal?) instinct for training survival, the push for intensity was not plan; and it sort of just happened. It marks the preparedness of my own physical and mental self should a "race happens tomorrow" scenario. With (now) 14 weeks of solid training clocking no less than 2400km in mileage, the best is yet to come as the next race will happen in less than 4 weeks (Xterra Teaser, Feb 9) from now. My mountainbiking skills however, need more than just luck and polishing if i want to survive the race in decent time. We will see.

But this is not the end for this "Training While Travelling" sharing, because the next article I will share will be related to this as well. Wait up for "Eating While Travelling" and how to be selective but at the same time able to enjoy the local food. 


  1. Really nice post, you got great blog and Thank you for sharing This excellently written content. Waiting for next one.
    fitness equipment.

  2. My driving coach drove for 20 minutes in a residential area taking me on the streets. She even told me that I'm doing very well and that made me feel good.