The number of athletes traveling to races across the country—and even across the world—is on the rise. Just take look at the TCS New York City Marathon: In 2016, finishers came from all 50 states and 124 countries.
More and more people are seeking unique experiences, so combining running with travel is a natural solution. However, the two don’t always mix, especially when flying is involved (hello, mid-flight calf cramp!). To minimize the impact of air travel and arrive home fresher and less achy, try some of my favorite in-air recovery strategies.
6 Post-Race Travel Tips
Book an aisle seat. Being in an aisle seat will allow you to get up and move about the cabin more easily, something you should do often, especially during longer flights. Use a service like SeatGuru to select an aisle seat in advance. You might even find one with extra legroom.
Hydrate often. Very often. The air inside an airplane is dry, so be sure to drink plenty of fluids (yes, alcohol is a fluid, but one that will impair rather than assist recovery). Plain water is always best—you’ll know you’re drinking enough if your urine is a similar color. Track your liquid intake using the Fitbit app and make sure you exceed the minimum recommendations.
Compressurize. Okay, that’s a made up word, but hopefully you know what I’m getting at. Running can cause inflammation and edema, and altitude makes it worse—even inside a pressurized cabin. Wearing full compression tights, or at the very least compression socks, can help to encourage adequate blood flow.
Go dark. Always travel with eyeshades and earplugs (or noise cancelling headphones) to simulate a healthy sleep environment. Even short bouts of slumber can help the body regulate and recover more quickly. If your Fitbit device monitors sleep, you’ll be able to keep track of exactly how much rest you get. Any periods of sleep that are an hour or longer in duration will be automatically detected and tracked by your device, but you can also manually log shorter naps in the Fitbit app.
Alleviate soreness. Your seatmate may not appreciate the scent of your ointment, but applying a topical anti-inflammatory cream can help ease muscle discomfort. (I personally reach for an odor-free option.)
Moisturize. Hand cream can help soothe dry skin, especially after it’s been exposed to sun and wind (as skin often is during many races). But the inside of your body may be dry, too. You may find moisturizing nose sprays and eye drops to be equally soothing. Consider keeping some lozenges on hand as well; they can help coat your throat and prevent hoarseness.
Hopefully these tips will help minimize some of the unpleasantness of post-race travel and make your journey all the more memorable.