I traveled to my latest half marathon, last month’s Phoenix Half Marathon. I’ve traveled to many races before, and while I love racing at home, it’s nice to race in a new environment.
That being said, racing in a new environment brings a new set of stressors such as travel, hotels, and pre-race food. Throughout the years, I’ve learned a lot of lessons the hard way, most of which boil down to: don’t try anything new.
Here are several tips for traveling to a race:
Pack it in your carry on
If you are driving, then it’s no big deal but this is a lesson I learned the hard way one year. Pack your full race outfit including shoes in your carry on. If your checked suitcase doesn’t make it, you have your race gear with you. You don’t have an added stressor or buying new gear or even new shoes!
Believe me, you are saving yourself a lot of stress for the one time your suitcase is left 2,000 miles away on race day. It’s not a good idea to try new shoes on race day, however, if you’re bag is stuck somewhere, that is you’re only option!
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
Stay more hydrated than you think! I am in the minority but on an airplane, I like the aisle seat so I can get up to use the restroom when needed.
Stay hydrated and drink more than you believe necessary. Don’t be afraid to ask the flight attendant for more water or extra water.
Prevent stomach issues
A common side effect of traveling is stomach issues which no one wants before a race. Preventing stomach issues can be as easy as eating your usual prerace foods but also staying hydrated.
Staying hydrated with uncarbonated beverages can help the digestive system stay as routine as possible. Carbonated beverages like soda will cause bloating just as the change in altitude from flying can do.
Bring your own nutrition
This stands true for both travel as well as at the expo. Buying food at the airport is expensive but easy. If your flight is long and you must buy airplae food, stick to things you know, it’s better to bring food that your body is used to. Boring but always better for racing. Save a unique meal for the ride home.
Similarly, it is easy to get sucked into the latest and greatest at race expos but try your freebies after the race. No one wants to travel to a race, feel great, only to have it foiled because of trying new expo goodies.
It all comes down to one of the golden rules of running: never try anything new on race day.
Before you get to your destination, do research on what restaurants and places you want to eat. That way it’s not 5:30 pm the night before and you are settling for fast food because you have no idea what the city has to offer.
It takes about 10 minutes of planning to save you the stress of the minutes before the meal.
Have a post-race plan
If you have family meeting you, make sure they know where to meet. I’ve spent literal hours, trying to find family because we didn’t have a meet here at X time/spot.
Do you prefer traveling to races or racing locally?