I’m not any kind of athlete, I’m slightly over weight and only mildly fit. I started running only this year around August and I couldn’t even complete a 2.5km loop without stopping for a walk. But when I decided I would spend some time in 2017 completing long distance trails I knew I had to improve my fitness levels or else spend the first few weeks hating the world. Unfortunately I travel – a lot and that isn’t always compatible with maintaining a regime especially as a beginner who finds it hard anyway So here are some hard earned lessons for working out while travelling.
1. Safety first:
It’s not always safe for a solo female to take to the streets to go for a run, it could be the location is a bit dodgy or at 5am there is nobody else around and increased risk or you just might not know where to go, so you might need to forget about that outside jog and settle for a treadmill or rearrange the room so you can follow a fitness video – just like the 80’s.
2. Room gyms:
I often found myself in places which I considered unsafe or I simply didn’t know my way around or It was hotter than a furnace by 6am and humid to boot so running outside was unpleasant at best. Once I found myself dehydrated and faint after pushing to hard in the heat. Its just not worth it. So I downloaded some free videos rearranged the room and put on the music to jump around and get the heart going. I do body weight exercises and used my bags as weights all in the comfort of my air conditioned room.
3. Gym gyms:
many good hotels have decent gyms, others have a rusted out tread mill and concrete weights. If your hotel doesn’t have a suitable gym, you can usually pay a small fee to visit another hotel’s gym just always ask to see the gym first before handing over any money. Good to check if they provide towels or if you should bring one and if there are changing facilities. I’m sure in most places there will be public gyms available and if you are confident some are on the street or beach free for all.
4. Going local:
Look for a local running group, hash, park-run, fitness group on meet-up or facebook, safety in numbers or at worst they might point you to a gym or a park which is popular with runners etc. Its also a great way to meet like minded folks. I recently joined a Hash for the first time in a long time in Monrovia and got to see places I had never ventured out into – and there is always a beer and a song at the end.
5. Be flexible:
And I don’t mean touch your toes behind your head, I considered it a win if I managed to exercise a few days a week, some places are just harder and finishing work late, or exhausted can get in the way. I made sure not to be too hard on myself if I skipped a day or two as long as I didn’t allow myself excuses to procrastinate when I could exercise but just didn’t want to!
6. Apps apps apps:
I’m a science nerd and love it so I love a good app with stats and numbers. I have a VivoHR from Garmin which monitors heart rate, sleep, steps and I use zombies run, although it doesn’t work well in West Africa which makes me sad so then I also use mapmyrun. As well as reminder apps to kick me into action when I’m procrastinating. Then there are apps to run through stretching, warm up, cool down, body weight exercises I use them all and helps to keep working out fresh especially when I am usually on my own.
You wont be breaking any records at the end of your trip, but I found with this I could stay fit-ish, obviously if you’re an actual athlete this wont be of much help, but then you probably don’t need it anyway!