Dear Mountain Mama,

Work takes me on the road a lot. Any tips on how to stick to my training schedule when out of town?

Thanks,

Road Warrior

Dear Road Warrior,

A colleague recently told me about her best run ever. One morning before the temperatures settled in the triple digits, she ran out of her grandma’s front door two miles to the cemetery where she buried her mom, who was in her in early 40s when she passed. She’s a 30-something working mom who drove 16 hours with two children under ten to visit her grandma in the Midwest.

My friend touched her mom’s tombstone before trotting back to her grandma and daughters. Endorphins mixed with tears. For the first time instead of feeling sad about visiting the cemetery, she felt grateful to be connected to her mom, to share one of the routine aspects of her life like running. She’s missed that the most, being able to pick up the phone and call her mom to tell her about her daughter’s first day of kindergarten or to relay how her race training was going. That day on the run to the cemetery where her mom is buried, she felt like her mom knew about it all.

When my colleague told me about her cemetery run, it changed the way I thought about running on my then upcoming trip to Santa Cruz. Sometimes I can be the kind of person I don’t like to be – I see the hole instead of the donut. I was thinking about jet lag and all the friends I wanted to visit and the all-day sailing classes. My mental to-do list had me exhausted before even stepping off the plane. Fitting in training runs seemed daunting. But after hearing her story, I thought about all the times my friends and I had sea kayaked, surfed, and swam along the same stretch of the Pacific where I planned to run. Each step would connect me to half marathons I’d run along the very same road, and closer to the person I’d been back in my carefree days before becoming a working single mom living on the east coast.

And that’s exactly what happened. Running by all those surfers made me smile as an impossibly blue sky shone down not on me, but through me, until I become as bright as the California sun. And that’s why I run, at home or on the road, to remember the person I have been and to pave the way to the person I’m becoming.

For those of you looking for a little motivation during the next family vacation or work trip, here are three tips that have helped me look forward to running on the road:

  1. Attitude: Attitude makes or breaks a run. Remembering the reasons why we run in the first place makes it easy to lace up our shoes and head out the door. When we view running as a treat instead of a task, we are open to the endorphins, seeing new sites, making new friends, processing thoughts, and unwinding. Each stride because something positive, and that reinforces our motivation, bolstering our energy run after run.
  1. Prepare: Always carry wipes, baby or otherwise and a few of your favorite bars. Too often I find myself making the excuse that I don’t have enough time to go for a run because I have to go somewhere and look presentable. But it’s amazing what a good cool down and a few wipes will do for my redness. Or I let myself get too hungry to run – amazing how a few energy bars eliminates that excuse. Being prepared helps me use breaks during conferences efficiently and I hit the pavement instead of holing up behind my laptop. Not only do I log my miles, but I feel more energized to tackle the rest of the conference.
  1.  Connect: Before visiting a new destination, research running groups and stores online. See if they have runs or even local races during the dates of your visit. If you’re attending a conference, consider tweeting your running plans with the conferences’ hashtag to see if other attendees want to join. There’s no better way to network than sharing a good run.

Road Warrior, share your own running-while-traveling stories when you get a chance. I’d love to hear about your own experiences running on the road.

Trotting Along,

Mountain Mama