Want to travel as an athlete?
As a young athlete today the lure of travel can be quite compelling when finishing school or university; the excitement of discovering the world that is around you, meeting new people, and breaking that potentially dull routine. You may be reluctant to take that jump as an athlete because you are worried about your training and how it may be affected while you are away; feelings that are common among athletes, particularly when their world revolves around their sport and performance. There is however no reason to worry – overseas travel does not mean that the training and hard work has to stop.
As a keen runner and strength and conditioning coach it was definitely a concern of mine when deciding to travel overseas this year. I may not be an elite athlete but training, competing and staying in shape are engrained into me so it was difficult to think that I may not be able to maintain these. Too strong though was the lure of discovering the world around me while I was still young, thus I decided to take that metaphorical leap. Being a runner made maintaining my training a little easier given that all I needed was a pair of runners and a map… don’t want to get lost in a foreign city. Strength training would prove a little more difficult to adhere to, but given my work as a coach this was something I wanted to maintain as best as I could whilst away. With a little imagination and a keen eye there was no need to worry at all. Creativity is imperative on occasions when a gym is unavailable, however resistance bands, a bench, stairs or any other structure can serve as an able replacement.
Resistance bands are a fantastic tool for adding difficulty to an exercise when conventional weights are not available, while they are also super light weight and easy to pack. Further, many fantastic body weight exercises are effective at building strength and should be staples even when you have an abundance of equipment.
An example program is outlined below:
Warm-up (2 sets only)
1. Banded lateral walk/monster walk x10 each way
2. Banded fire hydrant x 10 e/s
Workout (3 sets ea.)
A1. S/L Squat x 10 e/s
A2. Push ups x 10
A3. SL hamstring bridge off bench x 10 e/s
(3 sets ea.)
B1. Reverse lunge x 10 e/s
B2. Banded rows x 10
B3. SL calf raises x 15 e/s
(2 sets only)
C1. Side plank x 45sec e/s
C2. Banded dead bug x 10 e/s
Keep in mind this is just an example which you can change depending on your sport/injuries/ability and what facilities you have around you. What else can I do? Bikes are in abundance around the world and are a fantastic cross training tool, while serving as an inexpensive way to see a city that you may be in. Pools are also universally available and generally quite affordable, again offering a cross training option with low impact which is ideal when away from your routine.
Flexibility is key when on holidays – be creative with your routine, and be open to change, i.e. planning training around activities. Diet structure may provide additional concerns when travelling; again look to be creative and cook yourself, or alternatively head out for a meal, researching establishments that sell freshly made dishes with an abundance of nutrients, although this may cost a little more. The occasional treat will not affect your training as long as a consistent diet is maintained, so go out and indulge in that local delicacy you’ve been eyeing off, and the mental benefits that come from this will likely outweigh the negative of the potentially poor nutritional value. Personally, I struggled thinking that if I tried too many of the unhealthy local dishes, my training would be impacted. With a little persuasion at the start of my trip and a conscious effort not to have too much, I have managed to try different foods from the countries that I have visited, all without it impacting my training.
If you are an athlete finishing school or university and dreaming of a big adventure overseas, but are a little anxious about how it may impact your training – prepare, be creative, have an open mind and you will manage to smash your training. When you are young with few commitments it is the perfect time to take that leap, so my advice is go out and explore, learn and develop, and most of all enjoy yourself!