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In 36 hours, I’m going to jet off on an 11-day business trip, which will pretty much eradicate any fitness gains I’ve built up over the last three weeks since I kicked off my training plan for getting into cycling shape. Ordinarily, I would’ve combed the Internet looking for some sort of hotel-room workout, researched possible running routes at the various places I’m going, but not this time. Instead I’m going to try something I read about in the March issue of Bicycling Magazine. At least I think it was the March issue. At any rate, inside Chris Carmichael, Mr. Lance Armstrong’s coach, laid out a plan to keep your fitness cruising along even though you have to take a week off for a business trip or to take the kids to Disneyworld.
[Full disclosure: I worked for Chris Carmichael as his editorial director for 14 months between 2006 and 2007. If you notice a lot of references to Carmichael and his coaching company in this blog, it’s because I picked up an informal education in elite athlete training. That, and the coaches there still answer the phone when they see me calling.]
To cut to the chase, the concept, as I’m following it, goes like this: Drive yourself into the ground over the three days leading up to your departure, come home, drive yourself into the ground for a couple of days, then get back on your regularly scheduled program. The idea is that I’m going to use the first three or four days of my trip doing nothing ’cept recover from the stress of three hard days of training on my indoor bike set-up. Then I’ll bounce back strong for a couple of days. And then I’ll start to slowly lose some, but not all of that fitness over the rest of my trip. Upon my return, I’ll shock my body back into training form with two straight days of hard intervals on my indoor bike trainer, and if everything works out, I’ll be back up to speed by the end of the week.
So why don’t I pack my running shoes or at least seek out a hotel gym? Frankly, I don’t want to. My schedule is always packed when I travel—either with business meetings or family obligations—so schlepping my workout gear around and carving out 40 minutes at 6 in the morning to go exercise has all the appeal of a waterboarding session. I’d much rather sleep in an extra half-hour. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.
This is why Carmichael’s plan holds so much appeal and dare I say hope for me. Although, right now, two days into the breakdown period, I’m tired, a bit cranky, and having trouble sleeping—in other words, I got stress. But it ends tomorrow so I’ll put up with it. At least that’s the plan. We’ll see how it works when I get back. Stay tuned.—Grant Davis
Grant Davis has spent the last decade writing and editing articles about health, fitness, and nutrition. He lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado.