Travel Better: Losing the Least from Athletic Travel
BY BEN HAWKES
We often talk about getting the most out of our training and doing as much as we can to improve our performance. However, we want to lose the least when it comes to travel, though, rather than doing the most. The hard work is done - it’s about not fatiguing or stressing yourself pre-competition.
PLANNING YOUR ATHLETIC TRAVELS
Let’s start at home with planning. Obviously, because you’ve read our previous article about planning out your season’s competitions, you’ll know well in advance where you’re travelling and when - so that won’t be an issue. Now - for comps more than an hour’s drive away, I massively advocate for travelling a day prior to the competition and staying near the track the night before. It saves so much stress, gives you time to focus, and minimises distractions. So, for the rest of this article, I’m going to assume you’re following this advice.
PACKING LIKE A PRO!
Moving on now to packing. A lot of people say that perfect packing is where you use every item you’ve packed, but this often means packing light, and we don’t really want to take that too literally. In terms of warmup aids, recovery products, and whatever else you might use in training, it’s probably worth taking most of these to a competition just in case you want to use them. There’s nothing worse than getting there and wishing you had something you didn’t think you’d need!
Another thing to consider, ESPECIALLY if you have any heavy equipment or a considerable walk in your journey - use a bag/case with wheels. This is such a game changer, and saves a load of hassle, stress and fatigue.
In terms of clothing, if you have the space - pack for any weather. Especially if it looks like rain out, the more prepared you are, the less stressed you’ll be. Bin bags to protect bags, waterproofs, and umbrellas - as much as you can with your available space. All that said, though, you don’t want to be lugging 50 kilos around all day. Be smart with what you’re packing!
TRAVELLING ON A BUDGET?
When you’re looking at travel options, the price will be a massive factor. I like to take trains because you can get up and move about, but driving is often cheaper over long distances. Convenience is another factor, and with train stations being more sparsely populated than parking spaces, it can get tricky planning a rail trip to somewhere remote. So let’s say you’re driving - how can you optimise that?
I aim for a break every hour and a half to walk about and get the body moving. There’s nothing worse than 5 hours of stiffness to shake out on comp day!
CHECK THE MAP
It sounds simple, but I’ve fallen foul a few times, and I know others have. Make sure you know where you’re going, where the track is, the routes from the hotel to the track, and where the shops are.
TRAVEL AT QUIET TIMES
Try your best to make it a clean run! You don’t want to be travelling any longer than you have to be.
Wherever possible, travel a day or even two days before comp day. You want time to decompress and relax after your travel - not just rushing to sleep or, worse, rushing to the start line.
TAKE IT EASY!
Once you’ve arrived and unpacked, the rest of the day is yours to do with whatever you please. This usually involves a walk around the hotel and surrounding area (and the track if you’re close). I like to recce every place I go - partly to see a bit more of the place I’m competing, but more so I can get my bearings and know where shops, food, and transport links are. Just a bit of peace of mind if things hit the fan, and it’s nice to know a couple of routes to the track from the hotel.
If you’ve got time, a shakeout is a nice addition too. This doesn’t need to be much - a warmup at most. Some dynamic stretches and a few explosive movements do the job for me. A shakeout does what it says on the tin and shakes the travel out of your body. This isn’t a sciency explanation... but it just works!
For me, these are some of the most important things that go into how I prep for competitions. Add in some good kip the night before, and you’re all set to run, jump or throw your heart out!