January 11 2018
A runner shares a personal essay documenting her years as "the runner" in rural South Dakota.
A destination race sounds fabulous in theory. But between packing, jet lag and that elbow-y guy in the aisle seat, running a marathon in a new place can quickly go from a fun adventure to a stressful challenge. Olympic bronze medalist Shannon Rowbury knows a thing or two about racing away from home. As a pro, her most important competitions often take place in far-flung cities like Beijing, London and Daegu. This speedy chick shares her tricks for racing while on the road.
The changes in air pressure while flying can cause swelling in the lower extremities, mainly the calves and feet. To alleviate this, Rowbury suggests wearing either full-length compression tights or socks to promote circulation.
Sitting in a cramped position during a long flight or drive makes muscles stiff and tight. Rowbury recommends getting out of your seat (or pulling over) every hour to walk around and perform light exercises such as arm circles and knee lifts. Book an aisle seat if possible so you have more freedom to move.
Water, that is. Flying can dehydrate you, so make sure to keep water in reach. And you don’t have to spend five bucks on a bottle at the terminal’s Starbucks. Bring your own empty vessel through security. More and more airports are installing water fountains made for refilling your bottle, and flight attendants are always happy to top you off.
THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME.
Look for hotels with kitchens or mini-fridges. Maintaining your regular diet is crucial when racing on the road, and residence-style amenities allow you to bring your own food. The closer to home you can keep your stomach, the better.
PACK YOUR OWN PROPS.
Bringing your own pillow, sleeping mask and earplugs can be beneficial for both the plane and hotel. These personal items make you feel more comfortable and let you block out the outside world for some quality shut-eye. Tennis balls and muscle sticks are also great for self-massage and are easy to stash in a carry-on.
SAVE THE SIGHTSEEING.
Traveling to a new city is exciting, but Rowbury suggests taking it easy on the day-tripping. Although walking around museums and seeing the sights doesn’t seem like a strenuous activity, it can still cause fatigue. Minimize the stress on your body by being a tourist after the event, ensuring that your legs are nice and rested for race day.
CHOOSE YOUR COMPANIONS CAREFULLY.
While there are certain friends and family members that would love to accompany you on your exciting trip, be careful who you select as your companion. Jet-setting to a race is stressful enough, and adding a difficult travel mate will only amp up the headache potential. Compatibility is key. When in doubt, don’t be afraid to go it alone. ■