Sunday, November 13, 2011

Traveling during the holidays?

By Jannine Myers

Many of you have commenced training for the Okinawa City marathon and some of you, like myself, may find that due to holiday travel, your training will have to be interrupted. But don't despair, there are always things you can do to either stay on track with your training or at least make modifications to minimize fitness deterioration. Here are some steps that I have taken to ensure that I can get some of my training runs in while we're visiting my in-laws in Oklahoma at Christmas:

First of all, to give you some idea of what I am facing when we travel to Oklahoma next month, my in-laws live in a one-traffic light town with basically one main street that's considered the "business district." You have to understand too, that people in this town do NOT run. So whenever we have visited in the past, and my husband and I have ventured out to run through and arounds the skirts of the town (a whole 4.8 square miles), it's hard not to notice how people stop what they're doing and peer at us as if we're the freak circus show that's just arrived. For this, and other reasons, I've planned ahead and done some online research, something you can quite easily do too.

  • The first thing I did was enter a google search for running groups in Shawnee - this is a substantially larger town, relatively close to where my in-laws live (about a 40 minute drive). I managed to find at least two organized running clubs and was able to establish contact with Meredith Hadley, a local runner from one of the clubs.

  • After an initial response from Meredith, I proceeded to inform her that I recently started  training for a marathon in February, and that I was looking for company on one or two long runs while we were in Oklahoma. I also gave her some indication of my long run pace so that she could hopefully put me in touch with other compatibly-paced runners. As luck would have it, Meredith runs her long runs at a similar pace and is currently training with friends for the Arizona Rock 'n' Roll marathon in January; she was able to send me their long run training plans for December.

Meredith Hadley (second from left), with some of her running friends.
Meredith assured me that this was a " dress-up"  day!
  • With my long runs potentially planned, the next step was figuring out how to meet up with these ladies who so warmly extended their acceptance for me to join them. I generally don't like driving in the States since I'm from New Zealand and a left-side driver, so if I can avoid having to drive I will! Fortunately for me, there is a place in Shawnee that my husband is never opposed to visiting, hence twisting his arm to be my early-morning driver was not difficult at all. Our dialog pretty much went like this: "Honey, would you drop me off in Shawnee for my long run meet-up, and wait for me at IHOP until I get done?" "Yep, no problem!" Long runs sorted!

  • The next thing I needed to find out was what type of running apparel to pack. I sent another message to Meredith enquiring about the weather conditions and her recommendations on what to take with me. I can't say I was thrilled when her response was, "three layers on top, two layers on bottom, gloves, and a warm hat!" Still, I'd rather be prepared and know ahead of time what to expect. Oh, and she also mentioned that the only reason they'd cancel a run is if the roads were covered in ice! Those of you who know me are already feeling sorry for me, brrrrr!

  • Now all I had left to do was fill in the extra training days, and as I mentioned above, running in the small town that my in-laws live in is a bit of a problem since I don't really enjoy being the center of attention. There is however, another town about a 20 minute drive away that's slightly larger (it has a Walmart at least), and one or two fitness centers! On mornings that I don't dare to brave the cold weather, or the unwanted attention of curious onlookers, I'm willing to settle for an indoor treadmill run. I'll just be sure not to wear my standard WOOT attire as I'm sure the cute skirt will also result in unwanted attention.

I think I'm set for our holiday trip and whether I'm able to fit in all or just a few of my training runs, the main point I want to get across to those of you who are also traveling, is that it's possible to continue training with a little bit of advance planning. And if for some reason, it really isn't possible to run, then just do the best you can to be as active as possible. Choose to walk whenever possible; if your family or whoever you are visiting has a dog for example, offer to walk the dog. Or try and schedule activities into your itinerary that require some type of physical exertion. But most importantly, have a GREAT time! Maintain a positive attitude and if it turns out that you are unable to run much at all, then tell yourself that an extended break from running gives your leg muscles the opportunity to fully recover and regenerate themselves.

No stressing ladies, it's all good!

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