Sunday, August 10, 2014

Traveling Tips for Athletes

I am almost back home in Victoria and haven't written a post in awhile. With all of my recent travelling I figure this would be a good time to talk about just that. Today I'm going to discuss how to stay in shape and healthy while travelling. This could be when you're on vacation or even more importantly when you're playing tournaments.

Eating healthy on the road: we all know the challenges to eating well when on the road. Regardless if you have any allergies, I recommend bringing at least a few healthy snacks and of course a water bottle with you anytime you travel. You won't know if you can find a good/healthy meal while going through airports or driving in unknown territory, so it's better to plan for this. We've all got stuck eating something quick, cheap and unhealthy because we don't have a better option. But when travelling for a long period of time and having to eat different food than we are accustomed to we probably won't feel as good as we normally do. Add to that we end up sleeping in a hotel with an uncomfortable pillow you probably won't feel too great. So it's important to take care of what you eat as the travel and sleeping arrangements are things you can't really do much about. Here are some healthy snacks you can pack for your trip (with a cooler you have a lot more options): greek yogurt, fruit and veggies, dried fruit, hummus, nuts, granola, trail mix, sandwiches, salads, along with some water or coconut water.

Exercising on the road: If you're travelling for work or pleasure, depending on what you have planned for the day, I prefer getting some exercise early in the day before I go out and travel more, get to work, or the beach. If you're staying at a hotel you will probably have a gym that you can go to. Even just 30 minutes on a bike or treadmill will make you feel a lot better for the rest of the day. When we travel we spend too much time sitting which I've heard coined as the 'new smoking.' If you don't have access to a gym you can do some simple exercises in your room. You don't need any equipment to do exercises like pushups, squats, lunges, plank, wall sit, yoga poses, burpees,  jumping jacks, triceps dip on the bed or chair, plus various isometric poses with your luggage in hand. Especially if you travel a lot creating good habits of eating and exercising on the road will keep you feeling better and healthier.

Easily packed equipment for the road: we're lucky that we can play squash almost anywhere in the world and we don't have to bring much equipment with us. Sometimes all we need to bring are shoes and we can borrow the rest when we get there. I wanted to list some other items besides our squash equipment that you can bring with you to exercise and stay fit on the road. Here's my list of small items you can take with you on the road: a pair of running shoes!, skipping rope, yoga mat, swim trunks, frisbee, and a variety of balls that you can throw and catch with friends. Some people can bring their bicycle on trips while others have limited space. Plan ahead and be active if you want to stay active and maintain your fitness. 

Traveling to tournaments: With the tournament season coming up this post is even more important. I see a lot of kids that eat well on a day to day basis and then get to travel and are given some meal money for their trip and spend all of it on junk food and pop. Especially for elite athletes this is so damaging to their performance and their sleep. If you want to play the same as you do in practice leading up to the event you need to feel the same, which means fuelling the same way you normally do. If at all possible it's also helpful to get to hit on the courts the day you arrive so you can not only try out the courts, but get the legs moving. You may not feel too great after a long day of travel, but you will benefit from this the following day.

One area that you can always practice while travelling, working, or at school is sitting with a good upright posture. It may not feel like much, but will keep your core strength slightly engaged. Those that slouch while they sit are more likely to have a weaker core. So without actually elevating your heart rate or putting yourself through any extra physical exertion, try at least sitting upright and with good posture not just the next time you travel, but right now as you're reading this. How long can you maintain good this upright posture for?

This last section is a bit of a summary about my post. If you are travelling for pleasure and this is your dedicated time to relax, recover, and rest than don't be too active. Some people like to do everything on vacation and when they return home are beat up and in need of a vacation. This can be a lot of fun, but sometimes your body and mind need some time off. So although my current trip was for this purpose I still did a bit of exercise and walked around quite a bit, but was able to eat relatively healthy. I kept up with my core routine and did some pushups every 2 or 3 days and went for a long bike ride and a couple of hikes. I tried to keep from overexerting myself so my body feels better when I return. Along with reading the Power Of Now on my trip, my mind also feels more relaxed and ready to get back on court. I also managed to find Eckhart's follow up book, A New Earth here in the Calgary airport which may inspire some posts (similar to the last 2 during my vacation) in the coming weeks. 

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