Training alone can be hard, but training abroad is certainly harder. When you whisk yourself off to a beautiful land for most people getting in a gym session isn’t at the forefront of their mind and rightly so… however, when you’re an athlete (albeit an injured one) it’s something you have to consider aaaand it can be a little bit of a pain. Not only do you need to find somewhere you’re able to train (i.e. a gym/track), but then you have to attempt to contact the place who normally speak very little English (as not many holiday goers are after such things), find your way there on a daily basis generally without a little car to whizz around in and you have to accept that you will have to adapt your training to that of the facilities. Not ideal, but certainly doable.
Having been away for most of the summer break in a couple of European destinations I had to tackle such feats, as I do annually. Although, I’m not usually away for quite so long. I really shouldn’t complain though, as I’d take sunshine and adaptations over a rainy British summer any day. However, being away for a prolonged period of time means that you have to try and keep your adaptations to a minimum as not to loose fitness.
Usually whilst I’m away for a typical family holiday of two weeks, as I was at the beginning of the break, I don’t bother signing up for a gym or even finding a track. Instead, I opt for the usage of my body weight, the beautiful beaches we may be neighbouring and, of course any hills I can find. This year, I even added some aqua jogging into the mix (a sign of a truly mangled athlete). All of these are easy enough to do/find, but I do find myself getting a little bored and yearning to pick up weights – as tragic as that sounds. I do normally try and line up my off season with our family holiday, so I don’t need to worry so much, but the last couple of years for me have pretty much been ‘off season’.
It’s when you head to the sunshine for over those two weeks that it becomes complicated. Yes, those two weeks can be hard because you’ve adapted your training and you’re training alone… but for a longer period of time even with some equipment one must adapt. I’ve found in European destinations that the gym equipment and gyms aren’t usually like that from home, especially if you try and do it on the cheap and consequently you find yourself doing peculiar things w/weights like trying to do a goblet squat with two plates… not ideal. Admitedly though I have found a couple of great gyms in Europe too. When I was in Frankfurt, Germany, I probably trained in one of the best (and possibly also most expensive) gyms I’ve ever been to. It was called MeridianSpa Skyline Plaza and had the whole works; innumerable cardio machines, cross-fit racks, free-weights, machines, re-hab bits, a spa, yoga studio, nail parlour … you name it, it was there – totally worth every penny… I can’t lie, I’d spend hours there. However, there is always the coaching aspect that any athlete will miss. Having someone to bellow at you and encourage you not to quit during the most hellish of sessions, when you really didn’t feel like even turning up to training at all. I always find that once I’ve been away, or even to university (as I do my S&C on my own) I definitely appreciate my coaches far more and realize how much I have actually taken them for-granted in the past.
Coaches are there for their athletes 24/7, unpaid (in athletics), in all of the dreary weather conditions that England throws at us and expect nothing in return. They to me are modern day heroes, as I can honestly say that without my long list of coaches I’ve had in the past and those that are in my life at present I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere near as far as I have today. This is why, I can’t thank my now retired track coach, David Hull enough for putting up with our constant complaining about the weather and sessions over the past six years. Thank you.
Read my blog post entitled ‘Thank You Coach’ for more of an insight into what coaches do for us athletes.
Although training abroad can be a little bit of a faff, I do mostly find that upon return my training improves significantly. Maybe it’s the sun or the R&R, but heading off abroad isn’t all bad in respect to training. I’d just encourage you to take a little plan with you before you go, as it makes life a whole lot easier. KW