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Friday, July 12, 2013

Training while Travelling - NO CHOICE!

Exactly a year ago this week, scientist announced that they had been able to breakdown matter into a subatomic particle now boringly called the Higgs boson (compared to its more exciting previous name, "the God particle"). The particle is  named after the British physicist, Peter Higgs who led the breakthrough discovery along with an army of the best minds in the field of science.  Apart from having brilliant and inquisitive minds, the primary driver of discovery for these distinguished men and women of science was strong MOTIVATION. The motivation for wealth, fame and fortune.

MOTIVATION indeed is a powerful engine for performance. It stretches the mind, body and spirit to achieve even what was once thought to be on a heavenly realm.

Higgs boson particle - photo by freeonline.
Unfortunately (or Fortunately?) for most of us mere mortals living mundane lives, our biggest mental challenge is to figure out life puzzles such as how Donald Trump combs his hair and how it hangs on to his head without seemingly anything to hold on to.

But when it comes to applying some grey matter into our sport - we ascend to Peter Higgs levels of genius in the way we analyze race courses, research on bike and run gear, study the science of the perfect swim stroke or update ourselves on the metabolic impact of nutrition to our performance as triathletes.

However, where we really pour on the thinking juices is in the training program. We have elaborate 16 week plans that bring us through base, build, peak and race-ready form down to Higgs boson particle detail.

The Triathlete's attention to detail. Photo by the funtimesguide.

Alas, we are not wealthy or talented enough to be full time triathletes  and do it as a profession. As they say, life gets in the way. Especially for those of us who are corporate men who abdicate freedom over our time in exchange for amassing great wealth dispensed in bi-monthly installments across 30 or so years.

A natural consequence of life in corporate is travel. And this is a surefire guarantee of derailing your journey to the podium (or even just a personal best) when travel happens right smack in the middle of the race season.

My Travel Companions.

4 weeks prior to the upcoming Cobra Ironman 70.3 Cebu race, I had to take 9 days off from my training program to travel to the USA for business. What made it more difficult was that I had to go to LA, New York, Chicago and back to LA across those 9 action-packed, crazy hectic days. Before my body would adjust to the time zone, I'd be flying off to another time zone. Not to count the dinners, lunches and drinking sessions that usually come along these trips. All either limiting or taking away time for putting in quality mileage.

Not one known to give up easily, I drew on as much MOTIVATION as I could to commit to train on the road. And not just train - but to be race ready for the Ironman 70.3 (1.9km swim, 90k bike and 21k run).

Despite only knowing I was going on the trip less than a week before flying, I carefully booked all the hotels to make sure they had 1) a 24 hour gym; 2) a heated pool; 3) space to run. Next, I leveled with my business associates, suppliers and customers in the USA that I would only have time for early dinners and would have to head back to the room or hotel at a decent hour. I told them that though I am an active triathlete, the half Ironman distance is always a challenge for me (anything longer than an Olympic distance is, in fact too long for me - I am what you would call, a sprinter). Thus, I needed to put in mileage even during the trip.

24 Hour Gym at Sheraton Gateway Hotel LAX

My program consisted of focusing on running and some strengthening during the 9 days on the road and efforts to squeeze in some swims and rides on stationary bikes in the gyms.

Training Summary:

It takes around 12 hours++ direct or 18 hours via Tokyo to get to Los Angeles from Manila. You get hit by jet lag usually on Day 2 after arriving in the USA from Asia. Day 1 had me adjusting and not being sleepy. So, I used the extra energy to do a short 5km run to ease me into the new continent.

Here is a rough summary of the actual training I did on the road:

Day 1:     Arrive in LA. 5k very easy run at night to get sleepy, adjust.
Day 2:     Maximized sleep to adjust to jetlag. Then ran 16k (10 miles) at night.
                Did weight training after the run.
Day 3:     Travel to New York. Hit the gym at night for a 30 min session on the statiobike.
Day 4:     Run to Central Park. Did 10 x 1k intervals with 1 min rest in between and 4k easy.
                Weight training at night.
Day 5:     Rest
Day 6:     10k easy run
Day 7:     Travel to Chicago. Did 40 minutes on statiobike and 40 mins easy run on treadmill.
Day 8:     15k long run in the City
Day 9:      Head back to Los Angeles. Ran a 12k tempo.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to swim. Too many hotel guest partying in and along the poolside. I would have been the only one in spandex while everyone else was in two piece bikinis and board shorts. Better nalang to sit by the pool and enjoy the view...I mean the summer breeze.

In the end, it all kinda worked out for me. I did a catch up 90k ride a day after arriving in Manila and then did the Adidas King of the Road 16.8k (10 miler) race the following day.

One of the bonuses of running in New York is the breathtaking scenes in Central Park.

The Fountain at Central Park. My kids used to run around this endlessly.

Along the West Entrance (I think)

All told, I think I was able to pull it off. It's not competitive level training but enough to still manage a decent finish.

Moreover, I was able to balance work-travel-tri training with some precision.

Promise, there's a tri suit underneath the Armani Suit.

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