Working Out as a Traveling Executive

I should probably start by rolling out a big, fat disclaimer: I’m not, by any means, a workout junkie. I wasn’t born with a naturally athletic build and I have to fight for the limited muscle tone I do have. Working out is not a natural part of my normal life at home, let alone something that has been an easy addition to a busy road warrior schedule.

As my years on the road have unfolded, however, I’ve gotten better at taking my home-based workout routine on the road with me. I can’t say I’m perfect at it, but I’ve learned a few tricks along the way that allow me to have a greater chance of workout success.

In the beginning…

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A post-run selfie in the reflection of the sliding glass door on my hotel room balcony. Squeezing it in is worth the effort, believe me!

Back in the day, I didn’t even bother trying to work out while on the road. The shoes and clothes took up too much room in my carry-on, I was always dragging my jet-lagged bones out of bed to make the first meeting of the day, and when I was running a convention or conference, I couldn’t imagine how adding MORE time on my feet was going to be something my body could handle. Airplanes make me puffy and tired. Not having filtered water at my fingertips all day make me dehydrated. I hate the “energy” of hotel gyms (too many people angling for not enough equipment). Most of the time, just maintaining my overall health and energy while on the road was all I could mentally juggle.

Because of these excuses, I had this terrible cycle in my fitness life. Just when I’d be getting into a great routine of early-morning workouts and endurance-testing classes for a week or two in a row at home… I’d then end up on the road again and my routine would go out the window.

It was frustrating. Even for a non-workout-a-holic. It was time to learn how to take my fitness on the road.

Fitness, fitness everywhere

Once I decided to prioritize my workouts on the road, I had a series of false starts. There were times I had to choose between the other pair of heels I needed for my navy suit and my sneakers. There were times my travel life was literally spilling out of my carry-on tote in the airport because I filled the bottom half of it with workout gear. I forgot sports bras. I forgot gym socks. I forgot pretty much everything a good number of times before I figured out how to make it a part of my routine and finally stop forgetting.

My system for making workouts work for me

Look, everyone’s workout preferences are different. Here’s what worked for me:

  • I had to invest in a smaller, lightweight pair of shoes. I was used to running in thick, clunky running shoes due to my slight pronation. I eventually figured out that running in a lightweight pair of shoes that are not 100% suited to my gait was not going to kill me. I might have to cut back on the number of miles or the number of runs in a week but something was better than nothing… and it started with giving up on what shoes I thought I needed to have to run.
  • Then, I learned how to pack my workout gear. With smaller sneakers, I found a few of my carry-on staples that fit perfectly inside of the shoes so I can maximize the space in my suitcase. Often, I shove my backup eyeglasses (in a plastic case) in one shoe and a couple of pair of socks and my wireless mouse (which I never use on a plane, but like to have once I’m onsite) in the other.
  • 20170724_073812The right workout clothes are key. Much like my running shoes, I had to figure out that my favorite workout clothes were not necessarily the ones that were best suited to travel. I had to ditch my heavy-duty sports bra for a more sleek version, and I make sure I have light, breathable capris (which work in almost every climate) and quick-dry tanks. This is important because…
  • Every day after I work out, I rinse my clothes in the sink, hang them to dry, and they’re ready to use the next day. Obviously, this wouldn’t work for weeks on end, but for 2-3 workouts in the course of a normal business trip, it works.
  • Whenever I can, I ditch the hotel gym. I’m NOT a fan of the “dreadmill.” Not at all. I’ll do it when I have to, for sure, but I’d always rather be outside passing the miles in the great outdoors. Now, I have to juggle important issues like the climate outdoors (too hot, too cold?) and my personal safety (I am a female traveling alone, so I’m not inclined to run too early or late in the day in an unfamiliar territory). But when I can, I get outside and enjoy the city I’m temporarily residing in.
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I took this pic on a recent run I did in San Diego. A rare overcast day, with a great view of the city in the distance! I ran a lot farther than I had intended that day because I got lost in the view!

What I eventually figured out about working out on the road is that something is better than nothing. I can’t always recreate my home-based workout and I don’t always log the miles I do on my familiar trails/routes at home, but getting out and moving on the road makes me feel more like myself.

Those excuses I used to make about working out on the road (too tired, too many hours on my feet, getting up too early, etc.), are today the exact reasons I force myself to set the alarm an hour earlier.

Ultimately, it’s worth it.

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Making it work!

Trust me–it’s not always easy. I am a woman who needs a healthy amount of prep time in the bathroom in the morning so it’s not like I can juggle a run, breakfast/coffee, and a meeting-ready presentation in an hour. It’s the same issue I manage getting out the door in the morning at home. I just found a few ways to make my routine work for me on the road, and I’ve found it’s definitely worth it.

What are your tips and tricks for staying active on the road? Are you a road warrior who has identified a system that works for you? Please share!

 

Traveling Executive, blog, CEO, travel, road warrior, frequent flier, business travel

Red-Eyes: Masochistic or Multitasking?

Forget religion. Forget politics. I have found that one of the more polarizing topics among travelers is red-eye flights. People either love them or hate them. It’s rare to find a person who is ambivalent on the issue.

On one hand, they’re torture. Packed into tight quarters with complete strangers, crying babies, and startling cockpit announcements. The not-quite-sleep that most humans experience sitting up for hours at a time leave most weary travelers stumbling off the plane dazed and confused.

Still, the allure of red-eyes is sometimes hard to resist. For traveling executives, late-night departures offer the ultimate multitasking scenario. You can finish a full business day, grab a real dinner (as opposed to faux airport food), launch some emails in the club lounge, and then take a snooze while a team of trained flight professionals safely guide you toward your destination.

I both love and hate overnight flights. I do my best to avoid them but sometimes they make the most sense. In fact, I’m writing this blog at 12:02 a.m. PST/3:02 a.m. EST, somewhere over Oklahoma, according the the flight tracker on my airline app.

If I’m going to commit to a red-eye, there’s a few rules of thumb I follow in order to minimize the discomfort of the process:

  • I make sure I have enough points to upgrade to First Class for that portion of the itinerary. It’s worth the investment for a bit more elbow room.
  • I make sure I pack a casual outfit. Sleeping in a suit and heels is not ideal.
  • Water, earbuds, and MINTS.
  • In my younger years, I’d hop off a red-eye in Dulles and head to the office or schedule meetings as soon as I get through customs in London. I no longer have that much faith in my tired brain’s abilities. Block your schedule, take a nap and a shower, and prioritize moving swiftly back into human mode.

And if you happen to stir at the right time, it’s pretty stunning to see the sun rise or set from the sky. The colors just feel a bit different up there, don’t they?

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Traveling Executive, blog, CEO, travel, road warrior, frequent flier, business travel

Running a Conference: A Snap Story

Now before you spend your valuable time judging me for using Snapchat as a grown, professional woman, please take a moment to consider my home situation. I have three pre-teen and teenaged daughters. If I did not Snap, we would probably not communicate on most of the days I am on the road. I’m pretty certain that none of the three children understands what I do for a living, so it makes sense to share with them my business trips in a format to which they have grown accustomed.

My association recently conducted its annual conference in the lovely city of New Orleans. I took advantage of some filters and text boxes to convey status updates to my loved ones back home.

I did not, however, apt for baby deer or panting dog filters. A traveling executive must draw the line somewhere.

10 Ways Work Travel Has Gotten Easier in the Last 10 Years

Suitcase ShotI am thinking about the nature of being a road warrior because I was supposed to be planted firmly at home this week and instead found myself doing a loop around the country: IAD > MCO > DEN > DFW > IAH > BNA > IAD. It’s a worthwhile trip, as they all are, and I consider productive business travel one of my personal superpowers so it’s all good.

Still, I started thinking about how much things have changed in the 15+ years that I’ve been spending a significant amount of time on the road. My perspective, naturally, is colored by my gender, but I think there are some universal truths in here. These are the top 10 ways business travel has gotten easier in the last 10 years:

  1. Known Traveler Programs: My global entry/known traveler ID is seriously the best thing that has ever happened in the world of business travel. Business travelers are security line snobs–there’s always an undercurrent of competition among road warriors to see who can most gracefully get through to the other side. (You get bonus points if you can get everything up on the belt and whip off that metal belt without breaking stride.) Pre-check, Global Entry/NEXXUS, and now CLEAR… you have my heart. For me, fast, painless security transactions equal the start of a successful business trip.
  2. Better Carry-On Luggage: Also an area of business traveler snobbery–the carry-on bag. I have been on a 10-year mission to find the carry-on with the most space that still meets global carry-on requirements. Sort of like cars, you find a brand and you tend to stick with it. Me, I’m a Victorinox girl. Most business travelers avoid checking bags like the plague, so it’s important to find a brand that makes you feel like a packing world champion.
  3. Healthier Food: Airports, thank you. I appreciate that you’re trying. As a person who is unable to consume gluten, I recall the early days of business travel when I traveled with gluten-free oatmeal so I could go into the United Club and pour hot water into a coffee cup and have the first bit of mushy food I’d had for hours. Most restaurants and hotels are “fluent” in gluten free now, which certainly makes me a less grumpy traveler! Banquets at hotels are getting easier for vegetarians, vegans, gluten-free folks like me, and just about anyone who has a dietary requirement.
  4. Airline Apps: I’m having a love affair with my United app. I like to see where I’m sitting, I like to see if anyone is sitting next to me, I want to change my flights, I want to watch movies during the flight, I want to buy my next flight from an airplane…. and I don’t want to talk to a human to do any of this.
  5. Hotel Gyms: Better. They used to all be in dark, dingy basements. Now, workout rooms feature custom windows looking out over parking lots. This is an improvement.
  6. Airline Clubs: I’m a United girl and I can’t speak for other clubs, but the MileagePlus Clubs around the country were painfully tired a few years back. The company has been pouring some money into updating them, and United now offers REAL food (soup, salads, fruit) rather than just crackers, cheese, and free wine.
  7. Travel-Sized Toiletries: OK, so back in the day, the only travel-sized hairspray you could get was something like Aqua-Net. I have found that more brands (in particular, more upper end brands) have expanded to offer travel sized versions of the products I know and love (and NEED to stay pulled together!). Criticize if you must my high-maintenance routine, but I believe looking good is feeling powerful… and that’s a good combination for business meetings and presentations.
  8. Free Hotel Breakfasts: Most still have powdered eggs, but more are offering fresh, healthy options. Finally, “free” breakfasts have value to business travelers who don’t care to consume greasy bacon and powdered eggs.
  9. Prevalent Wi-Fi: Staying connected on the road is critical to developing successful road warrior habits. Back in the day, stepping into the airport often meant you were going into a black hole of connectivity. You sometimes didn’t get plugged back into your email or docs until you checked into your hotel room on the other side. First, business travelers were blessed with Blackberry phones. At least we could keep up email. Then, when smart phones and lightweight laptops and tablets came into play–omg, look out world. We were cooking with fire on the ground, and only went into a black hole when we were on the flight itself. Now, with Wi-Fi on planes, we are full steam ahead. Office in the sky, baby.
  10. Order Anything From Anywhere: This phenomenon, in a nutshell, is the fact that I can order anything I need for my household from any airport or hotel in the world and it’ll be waiting at my doorstep when I get home. With three teens and three dogs at home, I’m able to keep assisting my husband from the road more than ever before. If the dogs are out of food or one of the kids needs new dance shoes before the recital next weekend, I’m all over it. Amazon has changed my life.

BONUS: Video Conferencing/Calling: First, Skype. Now, Skype and FaceTime, and Zoom, and Google Hangouts, and whatever else you might care to use. Yesterday, I watched my 2-year-old niece open a gift I sent her (from Amazon!) while I was eating dinner in the Orlando airport. I can’t tell you how much I would have loved this level of casual accessibility when I traveled when our girls were toddlers. I started traveling during the era of “unlimited nights and weekend calls” so it wasn’t exactly easy to stay connected with the babies when they were young.

So there! That’s my list. Let’s hear from you, business travelers. What did I miss? What do you find are the travel improvements you value the most compared to traveling years ago? I’d love to hear what would have made your Top 10.

With that, I wish you a productive, delay-free, short-security-line day.