Ready For Takeoff
The longest flight I’ve ever done is the almost 8,500-mile, 17-plus-hour flight from Atlanta, Ga., to Johannesburg, South Africa. The gate area in Atlanta was filled with other triathletes, and in the hour before the flight I watched as they performed what looked like a choreographed theatrical dance of jumping jacks, downward dogs and pigeon stretches. I opted to read Us Weekly instead. When we disembarked, I watched them nimbly climb up the jetway while I ambled like a wooden doll.
Do treat your travel day (and long-haul flight) like a recovery opportunity. Getting in a good stretch before (and during) the flight is key. (Discretely) do some stretches in the gate area focusing on your hip flexors, hamstrings and calves. Or use a small massage contraption during the flight like TriggerPoint’s MB1 Massage Ball ($15) or a RAD Roller ($25) to loosen your hips, IT band, plantar fascia and lower back. As soon as you get on the plane, take off your shoes and put on heavy-duty compression socks. Get up every hour or two if you can (another reason why an aisle seat is a good idea), and bring an eye mask and some noise-cancelling headphones so you can get some shut-eye without being disturbed by the banging of the bathroom door or that chatty guy in 31B.
Don’t turn down water! It’s well-documented how dehydrating recirculating cabin air can be, and if you’re a few days out from a big race, there’s no better time to start making headway into your fluid levels than while you’re stuck in a flying bullet. Bring a large, refillable water bottle with you and have the flight attendants refill it every time they come by with the cart. I keep a bottle of EnduroPacks sugar-free electrolyte replacement spray with me—it’s small enough for carry-on, and a few sprays into any water or drink delivers sodium and critical minerals like magnesium and silica.