Spring race season is still a few months away, but it’s never too soon to start preparing, right? If you’ll be traveling for any of your races, make sure you’re prepared to maximize your performance and enjoyment on race day by traveling smart. Whether you’re traveling to another country, another state, or just an hour or two from home, here’s our top ten tips for traveling to a race.
1. Dress for Travel
If you’ll be traveling a significant distance via plane or car, wear loose-fitting layers so that you can adjust your temperature. Constrictive clothing like tight jeans or dress shoes can quickly become bothersome when you’re spending hours in transit. You can also pack a pair of graduated compression socks to help prevent swelling and discomfort in your calves.
2. Pack Smart
Pack your shoes, race-day apparel and everything else that you’ll need in a separate bag that you keep with you at all times. This way even if something happens to your luggage in transit, you’ll have what you need on race day. It’s also a good idea to keep essential toiletries and a change of clothes in your carry-on, just in case something happens to your other belongings.
3. Get the Munchies
Your diet while traveling should mimic your typical diet as closely as possible. Bring plenty of healthful snacks (think trail mix, carrots, almond butter, etc) so that you’re never hungry. Also make sure to stay hydrated – even if it means extra pit stops, we promise it’s worth it. If you get dehydrated while traveling, you’ll probably still feel a little sluggish the following day, which could affect your race performance.
Whether you’re on a plane or in a car, being stuck sitting in one position for hours upon hours can lead to tight muscles and increased tension. Make sure to get up and move your body at least once every hour. If you’re on a plane, walk around the cabin periodically. If you’re driving, make stops that will allow you to walk briskly and stretch out your muscles before you get back in the car.
5. Rest Easy
Jet lag can be a race day killer if you’re traveling a long distance to compete. If you’ll change time zones when you travel, try to adjust your body to the time zone of your destination before you arrive. It can take weeks for your body to get accustomed to a new sleeping schedule, so try to start gradually changing your sleeping pattern at least a week in advance of your departure date. When you arrive at your destination you won’t have to fight jet lag to get enough sleep, and you won’t be groggy at the starting line.
6. Buddy Up
Dealing with the logistics of the trip can be the most stressful aspect of traveling for a race. If you can, travel with a buddy or loved one who won’t be racing – and is willing to put up with all your pre-race fretting. This person can be in charge of details like catching flights on time and checking into hotels, helping you to stay relaxed and focused for your race.
7. Don’t Deviate from the Norm
Try to keep your daily routine as normal as possible when you’re traveling, so that your body and mind don’t have to adapt to anything new. Bring your own pillow, toiletries, and anything else that will help you feel at home, and remember that the days prior to a race are not the time for spontaneity.
8. Practice a Pre-Race Tradition
If you have a pre-race tradition (like listening to a certain song or eating a specific food), keep up that tradition. If you don’t have a pre-race tradition, start one. Having something routine to do before your race can help you stay grounded and maintain a sense of consistency regardless of where you are.
9. Check the Weather
Keep an eye on the forecast for your destination, and pack accordingly. Even if you’re only traveling a short distance, the weather can be drastically different from one location to the next, and you’ll want to have appropriate race gear and casual wear when you arrive.
10. Plan Ahead
Take care of anything that could potentially be a hassle before you leave home, so you don’t have to deal with it on your trip. Double check hotel and travel accommodations, find a local grocery store where you can buy snacks when you arrive, and make yourself a pre-travel checklist so you don’t forget anything essential.
How else do you prepare when traveling for a race?