Training and travel – strategies for conference survival without becoming a muffin and coffee-fueled blob

After returning home from Oregon I had just three days at home before cramming everything back into my suitcase and heading out for a conference a few hours drive away. The quick turnaround and long day of working, driving, and then finishing up some urgent work left me starting the 4 day conference already tired, but I was determined to get in some decent training in spite of the circumstances.

I’m going to sleep extremely well tonight and the drive home required a large cup of iced coffee, but I managed to fit in all but the last couple conference sessions, some socializing, and still hit my training goals of 1) 32-36 miles (~33 total) for the week, and 2) regular core and hip exercises.

Here’s what worked well, and what didn’t for getting my runs in during a hectic few days:

 

Packed running clothes and shoes!

  • Yes, this seems like a freebie, but I was frazzled enough that I could have screwed this up had I not created a list and then laid everything out in very organized piles on my bed while packing.

Running in the morning/being flexible with run timing:

  • Even though getting out of bed before 5:30 after a late night was rough, running in the morning the first day of the conference allowed me to attend the evening social/networking functions. However, I slacked off and didn’t quite get up on time, meaning I had to squeeze in a few miles between the end of the conference sessions and the evening events. I had to be a little cautious with the beer at the event after losing so much water to sweat during my half-hour slog in the scorching sun.
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Not pictured – my elbows dripping sweat in the adjacent grass while taking this shot 😐

  • On the second day of the conference we had a short morning session only, which meant I got to head out for a longer run after going to lunch with some lab-mates. I planned to run and then catch up on work, but ended up being less efficient due to an unexpected tornado warning. That’s definitely not the usual thing that delays a run for me!!!

Finding new places to explore, and planning at least the start of my routes out ahead of time, and utilizing Strava’s segment explorer/GPS map:

  • I planned one run from the place I was staying, and two runs in nearby parks that required short drives to the start. Since I ended up doing two runs on Thursday I actually did two from the hotel, but managed to find different trails on my morning and afternoon runs (hurrah!). For my other two runs I planned the start of my routes through the parks and then used the trail signs and Strava’s segment explorer to figure out where to explore from there. Having a smartphone and Strava has definitely improved my running away from home, where good running trails and paths can be hard to figure out without reference to the popular local routes, and the fear of getting lost can inhibit exploring if one doesn’t have an easy way of mapping out directions back to the start.

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Heading out even when I didn’t feel like it or conditions weren’t ideal:

  • I really need my introvert time and conferences are not so great for this. I ended the day on Friday feeling totally wiped out from sitting and absorbing SCIENCE all day, as well as emotionally wiped from trying to keep up on some of the really shitty things going on in this week’s news. When the tornado warning popped up I was tempted to just crawl into bed and trade my run in for a nap, but instead made myself get dressed to run so that I would be ready when the storm cleared. Going for a run ended up providing a much stronger rejuvenation of mind and body than a nap would have, and I was grateful for the time to unwind and focus only on the scenery and my foot placement on the winding sand-and-rock-strewn trails.
  • It was extremely hot compared to the temperatures I’ve been running in, but I managed to stay positive about this by viewing it as an opportunity to improve my somewhat dismal heat tolerance.
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Bunnies!

Eating healthy and staying well hydrated:

  • Hahahaha, yep, I totally failed at this. I did finally manage to get some healthier groceries so I would’t have to live entirely off free conference coffee and sugary breakfast pastries, but I definitely ate much less fruit and veggies than usual and spent the last couple days with mild nausea due to dehydration and eating wayyyy too many of the tiny, citrus-flavored candies that were the only food provided besides breakfast at the conference itself.

 

Any other stellar running-during-travel tips out there?

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