Traveling with a triathlete always has its challenges. Worrying about where to swim; is there a a trail or path to run on; can they jump on a spin bike to get a ride in? Then, how much will the trip throw off the training schedule and most importantly, can the nutrition needs be met? Yes, nutrition.
Sounds crazy, but it is the most important part of training. Without the fuel, the workouts can’t happen or certainly won’t be as efficient and effective. And, making sure fuel needs are met is important for everyone’s well-being. Yes, I mean your well-being, too. Who’s not impacted by a grumpy triathlete…
We made these mistakes during our travels and hope by owning up to them, you can avoid making them, too.
Never assume you can find something for your triathlete to eat
We travel to a lot of places around the world for races and to vacation during training season. You would be surprised at how many restaurants, even in big race towns, don’t add items to the menu more in line for triathletes during race week.
One time, we convinced ourselves 100% that there would be acceptable food, since it was a triathlon town and the hotel had been the host hotel for years. You would think their restaurants should be prepared. Plus, it was a Hilton and they usually have decent food and real foods available. NO! Instead of preparing for athletes, they went into full-on convention mode. It was as if all real food was gone and cheap mass production came into place.
Local restaurants were the same and it was a small community, so our choices were very limited. They changed the menus to make meeting the need to feed a lot of people, without the needs of the triathlete in mind. Now, no matter where we go, we call ahead, ask if they can meet our needs, and make reservations.
Don’t assume “healthy” menus at fast food restaurants are healthy
Yes, we have stopped at a fast food restaurant on our way to a race. It was our only option and when I say only, I mean ONLY! Yes, the healthy menu at fast food restaurants is healthier than the regular menu, but that does not mean it is healthy. Sugar-loaded flavored yogurt and sweet potato fries covered in cinnamon and sugar were considered healthy by them, but not to us and lead to us not feeling our best for the rest of the day. Whether flying, driving, or however you get there, pack some food just in case.
Don’t try a new food before a race
Period! Save that really cool local food for after the race. We have learned to arrive before the race just enough days ahead of time to prepare and then to stay a couple of days after the race to enjoy the area and explore new foods. Seriously, one new fruit or the local hot salsa can ruin a race. Don’t trust what your body does not know.
Don’t trust there will be places to buy the food you need
Many triathlons are located just outside of town, downtown, or in small towns. Chances are the race is not in the middle of the metropolitan area where people are actually living and grocery shopping. Make sure you stop at the larger grocery stores where there are more options.
We have played the game of – oh, we’ll just stop at the next store – more than one time, to end up at a convenience store that had nothing good to eat and ended up paying way too much. Don’t play that game. It’s not fun, especially after traveling and everyone just wants to get to the hotel…
Don’t leave your emergency supply of snacks at home
You say you won’t forget. You ask someone else in the family to help you remember. Then, what do you do? You walk out the door without it! What is it? Well, it’s some very important items – training and race fuel and nutrition must haves, in case you cant source what you need at the race.
Make your list on the computer, so you always have it and then you’ll only need to adjust it for length of race and days away. You can print it out with your packing list. Do not say, “Oh, I will do it tomorrow before we leave”. Pack it all up when you pack and make sure you have it on the list of things to go. No one else can be trusted to remember. Clean underwear you can find anywhere if you forget, but you may not be able to buy that special nutrition bar your triathlete eats on the bike…
We have been there and we have suffered by making these mistakes. Please learn from our mistakes.
What has been your biggest travel food mistake you have made?