Running Through Holiday Travel

running-advice-bugBetween social engagements, shopping and cooking – in addition to year-round daily activities – runners and other athletes have to work hard during the holidays to keep exercise from falling off the calendar. Add holiday travel to the list and many runners miss their workouts. As a life-long runner who has visited dozens of foreign destinations, I’ve learned how to keep running on the go. Here are my five tips to help you do the same:

1. Use long layovers wisely.

DSC_0398Any time I have more than three hours between long flights, I try to plan a workout during the layover. You can do this by researching fitness centers near the airport with day use drop-in fees. Before you hit the road, do a quick Internet search for “gyms near” the airport and call or email them to see if you can pay a fee to exercise at their facility. While few airports have gyms on-site, many airport hotels do. For example, the Hilton Chicago O’Hare offers a drop-in fee at its gym, which is a short covered walk from most of the terminals. Just make sure you pack a workout outfit, shoes, a lock and a towel in your carry-on bag. In addition to making the layover feel shorter, working out will energize you more than lazing around during extra in-transit hours.

2. Bring an apparel variety pack.

It sure is a hassle when you have a specific workout planned only to find out that the gym at your hotel doesn’t have the piece of equipment you need, the pool is closed for repairs or wild animals prevent you from running outside. The latter happened to me in Thailand, where a tiger had been spotted roaming the jungle near my hotel. The staff suggested I forgo my run. (Advice accepted!) The key to staying active is to be flexible and bring what you need for different types of workouts. You might want to pack a swimsuit and goggles, for example, in case your only option is a pool. I try to bring cycle shorts when I travel in case all of the treadmills are busy and I need to hop on a bike instead.
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Commentary — Coach Joe’s Naughty List 2012

running-advice-bugI suppose I should have known I was in trouble last night when my five year-old son asked me “Dad, what exactly are the consequences of getting on Santa’s Naughty list?” In my head, I thought ‘not much because we’ve already bought your presents,’ but I decided instead to tell him that tried and true tale that “he might get coal in his stocking.” To this, my brilliant son responded, “coal is helping reduce our dependence on foreign oil Dad.” A perfect response from a five year-old with an iPad 2. But it got me thinking about who is on my Naughty List this year and today I have some thoughts.

First, I’d nominate the people that live on my running route who are fostering the independence and freedom of their pet. I don’t know his name, nor his breed, but I would call him part wolf, part Alaskan Malamute, and part ferocious dragon. He is let to roam free of fences or the chains that bind most pets to their residences. Instead he is allowed to run freely. And boy is he fast. So thank you Mr. and Mrs. Great Big Dog Owners for providing me some variety on my runs for your pets freedom allows me to hone my speed and agility. He hasn’t, thankfully, caught me yet.

Second, I nominate the guy in the BMW SUV that made such precise eye contact with me a few weeks ago… right before he turned in front of me on my bike. My apologies to him for almost scratching his car. I’m sure that this probably caused him some great worry for he even pulled over to check to make sure that I hadn’t actually scratched it. He communicated something with me as he was doing this, but I will not describe the gesture in this family-friendly publication. I thank you, Mr. BMW Guy, for honing my bike handling skills and making me a quicker, more agile rider.

Third, I will put on my naughty list the guy just yesterday that used his horn to alert me to the exact moment that the light we were waiting at together turned green. Had he not laid down on his horn, I might not have started across the cross-walk in that very first second of the light, causing him even greater delay in making his right turn. I thank you Mr. Horn Guy, for being so alert and helping me make sure that my hearing is good so that I sense cars around me when I run.
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