Travis Woodruff is a USAC Level I (elite) certified coach who holds a B.S. in Kinesiology with emphasis in Exercise Science. Heís coached riders to five MTB National Championship wins and has over 10 years of personal racing experience. Since 2005 heís competed as a pro mountain biker and has coached full-time. His business, Momentum Endurance LLC, is based out of Tucson, Arizona where he hosts wintertime training camps.
Question: I am a reasonably successful Cat-1 racer. My work sends me on week long trips once a month. Usually without a bike. How do I maintain my fitness during these week long trips?
Answer: Business travels present significant changes to the normal day to day that youíre accustomed to, therefore itís no doubt that time away from home can be stressful. Not only will the weeklong trips affect your normal training routine, but they can also impact your nutrition and sleep quality. All of these factors affect your well-being as an athlete so itís important to give due consideration so that your fitness can be best maintained. Being that youíve had success at the Cat I level already, Iím assuming that youíve got a strong foundation to work from and your training must go relatively well while youíre home. By planning ahead we can improve your consistency so that you can more seamlessly resume normal training once back from the trips.
Provided that the weeklong trips are scheduled in advance, itís possible to have them coincide with a period focused primarily on recovery. By generating an adequate training overload in the two to three weeks prior to your departure, there will be lesser concern given to the volume of training while you are away. Instead workouts can be brief and include just enough intensity to keep you feeling fresh. In most instances it is possible to use the hotel gym facilities. However basic they might be, you can often find an exercise bike thatíll help get you through. Itís important to keep exercise built into your day, and often first thing in the morning can be the best time for a brief workout. Even if it is just 30-45 minutes, itíll be enough to suffice. Including some interval training can help the time pass and the intensity will ease your transition back to your normal training load.
While the training workload is low itís beneficial to consider other factors that affect your cycling performance and understand how the trips might impact them. Nutrition is often the biggest struggle while away from home since meals are often determined by convenience rather than quality. Do whatever is possible to plan ahead so that you have healthy options available and when healthy options might not exist, itís especially important to monitor your portion size. Even though you might not be able to train as you would normally, you still have the option to make healthy nutritional choices. Starting with a healthy breakfast (along with your quick workout) is the best way to start the day.
Itís common to put in long days during business trips, so itís especially important to relax and get adequate rest. If possible, try sticking with your same bedtime or perhaps you can even catch up on some extra rest while youíre away since doing so will help your transition upon returning home. Keep in mind that riding is only one component of your athletic well-being. Train well prior to your travels, then do everything possible to maintain good nutrition and adequate rest so that you can be ready for the next round of training once you return home. In doing this, there will be little or no negative effect to your fitness as a result of the travels.