At first blush, trying to stay on schedule while traveling for work sounds like it might be difficult, especially if your work includes late night dinner meetings and/or early morning breakfast meetings and presentations. By planning ahead of time, you can fit it all in, but you’ll have to be as careful about scheduling your runs as you are about scheduling your appointments.
Obviously you want to keep in mind that you’re traveling on your company’s dime and that your work responsibilities take priority, but that doesn’t mean you have to put your running schedule on hold. Here are some tips that have helped me get my weekly mileage in while on the road.
Plan Your Runs With Safety in Mind
When traveling to a new city, plot out your runs in areas you know are safe. If you’re on the road in a strange hotel in an area you’re not familiar with, make sure you’ve looked up some running routes you’d like to try ahead of time. There are plenty of sites you can use to find routes your fellow runners have already mapped out for you like MapMyRun or USATF website, but a real game changer for me has been the Garmin Heat Map. The Heat Map shows you where most of the Garmin users have mapped out their runs in a given city. The brighter red the area is, the more people have run there.
Ask the Concierge/ Front Desk Clerk About Running in the Area
Chances are you’re not the first runner to have stayed at your hotel and the hotel employees probably know a thing or two about good places to run. If they can’t give you a good idea about running routes, they can at least cross check the routes you’ve mapped out to confirm that you’re going through good neighborhoods. Last summer in Long Island a concierge at the hotel where I was staying made all the difference in the world when he told me to turn left out of the hotel instead of going right. While to 1 to 2 mile radius around the hotel was okay, going 3 to 5 miles right would have put me in an area I probably shouldn’t run in.
Plan on Getting Up Early
This will take some getting used to, but waking up at 4:30 or 5:00 am is a great way to get a good 4 to 5 miles in before you head off for your first appointment. The trick here is getting some shut eye the night before. Instead of grabbing a beer at the bar or staying up to watch HBO, try to get in bed by 9:00 or 10:00pm. Bonus points if you’re traveling east to west. On a recent trip to California, the 3 hour time difference made waking up and getting all of my runs in a snap. For more on getting up early, check out a previous post I did on waking up early to run.
Find Running Groups in the Area
Most people in running groups have to fit their runs in just like you do. Sites like meetup.com are great for finding running groups in just about any city. I’ve found the closer you stay to a larger metropolitan area, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to find a running group that meets relatively close to your hotel. This is a great way to get a run in, meet new people and get an insider’s perspective on a city you might not be familiar with. Even if a group’s run doesn’t fit into your schedule, you can still ask the group coordinator where they run. It’s a pretty safe bet that you can use their routes to get in a good workout and not worry about running through unsafe areas.
Do an Extra Workout or Two Before or After Your Trip
Maybe your business trip is packed to the gills with breakfast, lunch and dinner meetings and you’re meeting clients/prospects for coffee in between. Maybe you legitimately don’t have time to run as much as you’d like on a given trip. Or maybe you just don’t like the idea of waking up so early and running in an unfamiliar environment.
Try packing in your runs on the days before your trip. If you’re feeling up to it, try running in the morning and again at night the day before you leave on your trip. I typically only run one day during the weekend, but running on Saturday and Sunday prior to a trip is a good way to get your mileage in. You could wait until you get back, but I’ve found that’s more difficult, especially when my wife and kids are excited to see me and the last thing they expect – or deserve – is for me to lace up my shoes and go on a long run.
When All Else Fails, Use the Dreaded Treadmill
I hate treadmills. I find them boring, tedious and just about every antonym for fun. Sometimes, using them on business trips is simply unavoidable.
On a trip to Connecticut earlier this year a massive snowstorm hit the east coast and this was my view the morning I woke up:
The plows had done a good job of pushing the snow off the roads, but there were piles of snow 5 feet deep on the sidewalks. The routes I had mapped out would mean I’d have to run on the slushy sides of busy roads, so I opted to stay at the hotel and hop on the treadmill. I trudged my way down to the workout center and while I did so begrudgingly, I got a 4 mile run in.
The good thing about hotel treadmills is that most of them are open 24 hours. You can wake up as early as you want or go there as late as you want and chances are good that you’ll be able to get your (boring) run in. If you’re lucky, there might be a TV in the workout room or you can listen to music (running on treadmills is the only time I listen to music), but the important thing is you’ll get your run in, no matter how mundane running in place may be.
The important thing here is to make sure you maintain your consistency with your running. Making excuses for not running on a business trip is a gateway drug to making excuses when you’re not traveling.