Training for a Tri on the Road: Hard But Doable

a silver medal with a green ribbonLast month, I was able to cross something off my bucket list: a triathlon. Honestly, I am not an athletic person, so this is quite a feat. It was a sprint tri, which means a half mile swim,  12 mile bike ride, and 3.1 mile run. I had to start training basically from scratch, which is not easy in three months under normal circumstances. Add repeated business trips, and regular training became incredibly difficult. But I did it, and you can too! If you travel for work and want to train for an athletic event, whether a triathlon, a marathon, a bike ride, or anything else, it is definitely possible. It just takes work and a little planning. Here are my tips.

  • Pick hotels that allow you to train. If you are training for a triathlon, it’s really important for a hotel to have a usable swimming pool. In the winter an outdoor pool doesn’t do a lot of good—make sure it’s indoor. A gym or nearby running trail are also important. If you are going to be on location for a week or more, check into bike rentals in the area. You can call the hotel to make sure there are safe areas for training nearby.
  • Plan your schedule ahead of time. It is difficult to train for a bike race on a stationary bike, so I planned my bike training for home. As much as I could, I planned the bulk of my training for while I was home. Of course that’s not always possible. For example, if I knew that in a certain week I would need to swim, bike, and run twice each, for a Monday-Thursday trip I would do the following schedule:
Monday (travel) Tuesday (work) Wednesday (work) Thursday (work, travel) Friday (home) Saturday (home) Sunday (home)
Swim Run Swim Off Run, bike Off bike

Doubling up for Friday (swim and bike) means there is less pressure to get all my training in while on a trip. And if something came up and I couldn’t swim twice, I can add another swim day once I’m home.

  • Be flexible. Meetings run long, planes are delayed, and sometimes your perfectly crafted training plan won’t work out. Be flexible, move stuff around as you’re able, and do your best.
  • Be realistic. Business travel can be stressful and hard, with long hours and lots of work. You may not be able to do your full 3 mile run or half-mile swim every time. That’s okay! Just do as much as you can on the road and then amp it up when you get home.
  • Pack the essentials (but not too much). Just like everything else, don’t over pack. You will definitely need your swimsuit, goggles, and running shoes and clothes. Maybe you will need two running shirts. Much more than that and you’re adding too much weight to your suitcase. And remember! Try to pack only three pairs of shoes total—this includes your running shoes.
  • Set reminders. Make a meeting for yourself on your Outlook calendar, or set an alarm on your phone when it’s time to work out. It’s so easy to get lost in work that you forget the time, and suddenly it’s time for bed and you haven’t trained yet.

Don’t forget to keep the goal in mind! It helped me to have a picture of the race site on my computer desktop, because it reminded me of what I was working for. Next time (and there will definitely be a next time!) I will keep the picture of me at the finish line up at all times. The feeling of accomplishment as I crossed that line was unreal—I had no idea I could feel that powerful. Training while traveling for work is tricky, and requires planning, but it is completely doable! You can do it!!

Note: I found the information and training plans at and incredibly helpful throughout the entire process.


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