I will use the word “run” throughout this column, but feel free to sub in jogging or walking- whichever fits your athletic abilities at this time.
1. Run off the bad decisions from the night before.
You’re on the company’s expense account. It’s late. The martini list has 4 drinks made with gin and you want to compare each of them. There is also a reverse happy hour after 9 that you just found out about, and you might stay just to a get a good deal on one of those martinis…
Truth be told, I started running in my mid-twenties with the following rule: “You will run one mile for each drink you have tonight.” Luckily, I was a light weight for a while so mustering up the strength for one or two miles, though challenging at the start, seemed manageable.
It was the bigger nights that started to become a challenge. But I would just break it up to a morning and evening session if I needed to. (Hey! It’s not like I was drinking 10 drinks or anything, but even 4 miles can be hard to find time for when you just start running ;) And some nights, I started to turn down a drink because I didn’t want to make up that additional mile the next day.
In any of these cases, it was a win. I was running to make up for my daily drinking, or I was thinking twice about having another drink because I didn’t want to pay up later.
Training you to repay yourself with something healthy is a wonderful self-negotiation tool and leads to healthy habit formation. With time, you may decide to cut out drinking all together or you may fall in love with running and sign up for your first race. You may start looking for races in the cities you are traveling to and might even make new friends who continue to inspire you on your new-found running journey!
2. Get to know that city
Your travel schedule has you in three cities this week and four cities next week and they all require plane travel. Most of the time you spend about 18 hours in one city before having to jump in an Uber to catch the next plane. You can’t begin to understand how someone with this lifestyle has time to exercise, let alone has space in a carry-on for tennis shoes and gym clothes. Exercising just isn’t at the top of the list.
It definitely is a huge bummer that you get to go to all of those amazing places while working and don’t get to see any of the cities you are in! Or do you? Are there those undiscovered minutes in the day which you could uncover and dedicate them to your health, wellness and curiosity?
What if you took a genuine interest in learning as much as you could about whatever city you are assigned to? Maybe you are only a few blocks from the Boston Library or a few miles from the Mall in DC? Perhaps Navy Pier is 10 blocks away or Golden Gate is on the other side of the Embarcadero?
Stop thinking you’ll be back here in a few weeks with more time. Motivate yourself now to start seeing the city so you know where you want to go back to later. Or, perhaps, you decide to explore in the other direction because nothing suited your fancy earlier?
Non-nogotiables are helpful here too. Decide that you are going to see one new landmark while in each city you visit this week. Maybe it’s just feeling out Main Street or finding the quickest way to get to a cool restaurant area later? There is always at least 10 minutes to take to yourself. Or perhaps it’s 10 minutes less of sleep so you can jumpstart your day with the exploration? Or to help make you more tired so you can sleep better in the next hotel?
Once you make it a part of your routine to treasure hunt your way through every city, waking up even at 4am to hike up Echo Canyon in Scottsdale becomes a true enjoyment. You will get to see who else gets up at that time to exercise and get a true feel for the local culture and city.
Even at odd hours (late at night or early morning), you can get the gist of a city. Are there partiers out on the balconies at 7am in New Orleans or not a single coffee shop open before 8am in Fort Lauderdale?
Staying in a bad part of town? Be bold or just go for a drive. For your sake, think how much more well-rounded and interesting you will be when you can comment on how much you enjoyed or didn’t jive with a particular place. Also, you’ll find yourself running way longer than expected when you find yourself magically in front of the London Bridge or coming up on the 7-mile beach in Grand Caymen.
Don’t let a company take every bit of you when you are traveling for them. Fill up your soul with goodness and enrich your personal story with knowledge and experience!
3. Run off the good decisions from the day before.
Not all late-night decisions are bad ones. Sometimes you see a cinnamon roll factory at the Public Market in Seattle on your way to your hotel the night before and decide to make the trek to get one in the morning. Maybe you closed a big deal and you want to reward yourself by taking care of you?
When you make the decision to put you first at any part of the day, you feel empowered and in control of your life. Traveling for work at someone else’s calling can feel a bit overwhelming and frustrating when you aren’t calling the shots. It is important to find ways to feel like you are still in charge of your life. Running can be that outlet for you and may even be the gate to you reaching your happiest and healthiest self now as a road warrior.
What could be more satisfying than being in fantastic shape AND being gone all the time? Your friends will be jealous. Your parents will be so proud of what a great job you have and how much you are thriving. Hell, you’ll even start to like yourself a little bit!
As I got into long distance running, I started to actually earn drinks on my runs and that was really fun and motivating! I started to pay myself forward for working hard by running the additional miles, and I felt like I deserved to imbibe if I chose to do so. This got especially fun when I would go on 20-mile runs. I spent the entire time thinking about how many drinks it would take before I couldn’t stand anymore and who would be taking me home.**
In the end, it’s all in our head, right? I have found that coming up with a game with non-negotiables (the key!) has been a major part of my success in whatever it is I’m trying to accomplish.
I invite you to come up with something that motivates you so that you get up and run off the bad decision from the night before, get to know something about that city you’ve never been to or reward yourself for being such an awesome road warrior!
*Expert dirty clothes traveling tip* Wash or rinse your sweaty clothes in the shower and lay out on towels and roll up in the towel to remove as much water as possible. Then hang to dry! Significantly cuts drying time and reduces smelly-time in your bag before you make it home.
*Healthspiration*: Pick one thing in each city you visit you can run to, and make sure you get there. No matter what time of day, even if it isn’t open.
*Opportunity Discovery*: Find your “runner’s high” and know how many miles or minutes it takes to get there; find your edge and decide if you like taking the journey out there. Are you able to run longer and faster if you at least run to that point? Is there a time where you actually start to enjoy the exercise and it no longer feels like a chore? Let’s turn that chore into something worth running to.
**Note: Though I do not condone alcoholism or alcohol dependency, there may be times in our life where drinking is a part of our lifestyle. There may be times where it isn’t. I have officially lived on both sides of the table and respect and understand either decision tree. My goal is to help make sense of things no matter where someone is in life and that means no judgement, understanding and respect. I also like to be funny and make jokes.
If you would like help in goal setting and attaining those goals, reach out to Lorna at Finding Healthfulness to be one step closer to reaching your happiest and healthiest self! Check out my other posts on being a successful Road Warrior and taking charge of what you put in your mouth and setting boundaries around food.