For people who squeeze marathon training into their busy job schedules, life is a balancing act. Factor in frequent business travel, which involves jet lag, job stress, and trying to see your kids when they’re awake, some weeks it’s all you can do to keep your training from going completely off the rails. Here are some tips to help you manage the challenge.
We spoke to Christopher Yip, 52, who is a professor of engineering and Associate Vice President for International Partnerships at the University of Toronto. Yip flew 140,000 business miles last year, with trips to England and Israel and multiple trips to Asia, as well as within Canada and the US. He is married with two children, ages 4 and 6. Yip has been to Boston six times, and is currently training for the Tokyo Marathon on March 3. It will be his 36th marathon.
“I don’t really have a strategy,” Yip says, explaining that though frequent, his trips are short, and there is little time to adjust to different time zones. “When I fly to Asia, I usually arrive in the evening, have dinner, and am up at seven or eight the next morning and into meetings.”
Yip says jet lag has never really been a problem for him. “By day four or five in Asia you’re a little bit dopey, but because we don’t have a lot of time to sit around, your adrenaline is always going…
“In Tokyo I would run before meetings in the morning, 15K or so. In Hong Kong, same thing. I map out a route near the hotel and just go. In Tel Aviv I would run along the coast.”
Yip and his family will often schedule vacations around his races, as they will at Tokyo this year. “I’ve taken them to Boston, Honolulu, and New York for races. Sometimes they get the spectator experience, and sometimes they’re like, ‘we’ll see you back at the hotel later.'”
Yip travels so much that it has become a regular and expected part of his weekly routine. (He also has a supportive spouse who keeps things humming at home in his absence.) For those who may still be figuring out how to integrate travel with training, here are some tips.
Five tips for managing business travel and training
If arriving at night, stay awake so you’ll be able to sleep when you get to your destination, and plan to run in the morning before your meetings. If you’re taking a red-eye, try to sleep on the flight so that you arrive refreshed and ready to start the day, running before your meetings if time permits (or afterwards, if it doesn’t).
Limit caffeine and avoid alcohol when flying, since airplane air is extremely dry. Always carry an empty water bottle in your carry-on and fill it before boarding so you can stay hydrated.
Get to know the hotels and chains that offer support to runners. They may even lend you gear and shoes, as well as providing routes and other people to run with. Westin’s partnership with New Balance is the best known program, but similar programs exist with other chains. Some airports also have beautiful gyms, or partnerships with airport hotel gyms, where you could at least get in a treadmill run. These include Toronto’s Pearson Airport, Vancouver, Chicago, Baltimore-Washington, Munich and Singapore.
Take advantage of gaps in your schedule to get in a run, however short.
Resume your routine when you get home, eating, sleeping and running at the times you normally would, as much as possible.
Try not to stress too much if there are days when travel commitments make it impossible to maintain your training schedule. As long as you aren’t skipping your weekly long run, the occasional missed workout won’t derail your readiness for your goal race.