Travel and Recovery

Travel and Recovery

Jun 15, 2014

2014-06-01 17.34.33

It has been a few weeks since I have been able to write as a lot has been going on.  Over the past two weeks I have traveled to Waxahachie, TX (near Dallas) for the 2014 APF Master, Submaster, Junior and Teen National Powerlifting Championships to qualify for the WPC Worlds, drove to Houston, TX on business, back to Illinois and then to Philadelphia, PA for business.  Upon my return I had to leap into training for the July 19, 2014, WPC/AWPC CanAm Benchpress Championships (Global Bench War), to be held in Romulus, Michigan.

In a number of posts on Facebook there has been a running ‘joke’ about powerlifters on airplanes.  Not sure how much of an amusement it is as I have been through the period of requiring a belt extender (several years and 40+ lbs ago).  It’s not just a thick core, but also thick glutes and legs that will lift a body into a position where the safety belts no longer easily fit someone larger than a ‘normal’ human being.  It was not that long ago that I spent about a decade traveling an average of 43 weeks a year via car and airplane – there are a lot of tricks to consider during travel to ensure that you are in good shape when you are ready to compete.  (I even wrote a book that includes some of those adventures – “Physical Asset Management for the Executive – Caution: Do Not Read this on an Airplane” – it has more to do with maintenance and the aircraft part is outright scary – although I keep getting emails from readers who just have to read it while traveling on an aircraft!).

There is much to be said for a lifter to pay a little extra to an airline that has extra legroom and, when possible, to bump up to first class.  When heading to a meet it is just as important to ensure that you are comfortable, relaxed and hydrated.  People often forget that the cabin in an aircraft is pressurized to 10,000 feet, meaning that you are not enjoying as much oxygen during the flight, and you must also consider that the air is not really humidified, draining moisture from those on board.  Couple that with the fact that you are sharing air with a number of other people and the challenge of far too many travelers feeling that it is perfectly fine going onto an airplane with a cold, flu or other diseases.

When traveling it is important to ensure that you have given yourself enough time to recover.  Drink fluids – coffee and water are good ideas – juices and alcohol are generally good to avoid.  If you are traveling coach, then make sure to bring a bottle of water on the flight with you.  You will have to purchase it in the terminal as you cannot get through security with a water bottle.  Expect that on a short flight up to 2 hours that you will receive one 8 oz glass of fluid provided by the airline and no meals, even if there are maintenance or weather delays.  During a flight up to 2 or 3 hours, you will want to drink at least 16 ozs of fluid to replace what you have lost.  Taking a sandwich or protein bar(s) will help if there are any delays, as well.


^^Sitting in the terminal after 7 hours waiting for flights, delays and cancellations – Philadelphia

On the last trip, during the flight out, there were maintenance delays on the aircraft, we were stuck for about three hours on the tarmac plus extra time in the terminal for a total of 7 hours for what should have been a two hour flight – plus I like to arrive early (90-120 minutes to reduce stress in lines).

Once you arrive at your location, hotels are also very bad areas for rest and recovery.  Rooms are always very dry plus you may, like I do, have reactions to the detergents they use in the pillow covers and blankets.  I can usually tell right away because I can smell the perfumes in the materials.  I will usually use a towel on top of the pillow if I notice perfumes or if I am unsure.  Otherwise I end up clogged and with very dry skin around my nose and mouth.  The detergents used by some hotels are primarily meant to kill such things as bed bugs and to eliminate proteins left over by, shall we say, other activities, not so much to protect customers that have allergies.  Again, make sure to stay hydrated and spend time outside of your hotel room to ensure that you are getting plenty of fresh air.  While there are air turnover requirements in hotels, the air can still be quite stale.


^^One of the perks related to upgrades and a lot of flying – finally boarding an aircraft after about 9 hours in Philly.

It is equally important, when traveling, to ensure that what you NEED is with you on the aircraft.  Also, making sure that, whenever possible, you make your carry-on small enough to fit in the space under your seat.  If you are bringing your lifting equipment on-board you can always have it put into ‘plane-side’ luggage as you are more likely to come back into possession with it at the end of the flight, even with delays and cancellations.  I have had laptops and electronic equipment destroyed by other passengers who have decided that they should ram or crush other luggage in overhead compartments in order to get their ‘space.’  In the last flight, I had to stop another passenger who decided that my computer bag was in the way, pulled it out and was just going to let it drop on the floor.  I had the stewardess put her stuff in plane-side regardless of her sniveling bullshit – if she had asked politely, I would have been happy to put it under the seat in front of me (I often do so) – however, I do not tolerate self-centered passengers who have no sense of other people’s property.  She was, of course, the same person who spoke extremely loud on her cell phone and refused to turn it off, delaying us another ten minutes and only doing so when the stewardess informed her that she would be removed from the aircraft.


^^Ahhh… the benefits of first class!  Not being stuffed next two the two other largest people on the plane, lots of fluids and usually a meal or snack  – also beneficial when weather delays change your two hours of waiting plus 2 hours of flight and one hour at the other end collecting bags and getting a taxi into a 12-13 hour ordeal.  (note bags under eyes)

When setting up travel I don’t know why people go for the window seat – they seem to enjoy it for some reason.  The aisle seat provides more room, better shoulder space, the ability to get up without a major commotion, the ability to stand up to stretch your legs, and a straight line to the rest room, if needed.  I also found that you can obtain additional food/snacks/fluids in the aisle seat, even when in coach.  Also, always, always, upgrade to either better leg room or business/first as early as possible especially if you are a bigger guy or are on your way to a competition.  When things go wrong, and they often do, that little extra will determine how prepared you are.

If you see pictures of me on flights rarely will you see me in business attire.  I am a PhD of engineering and Vice President of a good sized company – and occasionally have to look the part.  I love it when I see people showing off by wearing business suits, etc. on flights like they are going to walk into a meeting as soon as they step off the plane.  In addition to the discomfort and the extra inches it takes from the seat belt, these guys get up looking like they slept in their business clothes at the end, especially if it is a long flight, or there are delays.  If it is necessary that I have to wear something as I leave the airport, I will bring it in a carry-on and change in the bathroom at the arriving airport.  If I have luggage on the aircraft, I will have plenty of time for the change.  Then I look fresh (usually after dousing with a face-full of water, as well).

I have a ‘no business when I am on the plane’ rule.  I have had times when competitors have been sitting on planes nearby and have listened to them discuss customers, business strategy, problems, and other issues that can be used against them.  I limit myself to email and texts (and Facebook) when I am on the plane.  This is a time for rest and relaxation, not showing off to other passengers how important you think you are.  Ugh!  I had to listen to one guy who had severe halitosis (bad breath) talk to a pimp when we were on our way to Philly to discuss his choices when he arrived.  The guy the seat in front of him turned out to be one of the people he was meeting that weekend at a conference – I learned this when they got up after we landed and he recognized the guy – who was trying to avoid him at that point.  I wonder how the meeting turned out.  Think he got the business?  (either, that is… use a freaking tooth brush, dude!  I could smell it a whole row over!)

Bring a good, long book, or an eBook reader, or even something with a long battery life and movies/shows or other entertainment – and earphones.  Music is also good.  This is especially important if you have trouble sleeping on planes, like I do.  I have flown as much as 30 hours (with connections) internationally without a bit of sleep.  However, keeping yourself entertained will help you keep rested.  If you are going for an especially long flight (at least 4 hours) I always take a tooth brush and tooth paste and an extra shirt/t-shirt.  Feels great just before you land.

Most airports have taxis and some hotels have shuttle services.  For taxis at airports, there are often fixed prices to get you to hotels and major locations.  You can contact them ahead of time to find out what those costs are.  Most will also accept credit cards.  However, especially with international travel, I prefer using cash as I have had issues with credit cards and taxis in the past.  Besides, the drivers prefer cash in particular with tips as they lose a portion in related credit card fees and it is a record of how much they receive.


^^Waiting for the taxi once I have arrived home – not the worse for wear or lack of humor after more than 12 hours on what should have been 5-6 hours of travel (even with extra luggage under my eyes – which made up for the luggage that did not arrive until the next day).

Do not wait for the last minute when returning to the airport in a taxi or airport shuttle.  During this last trip, I gave myself plenty of time and then had the shuttle driver (shared between hotels) decide not to stop at the hotel where I was.  I was standing out front waiting and the bellhop called the guy who was 45 minutes late.  The guy claimed that he drove through and did not see anyone.  The bellhop looked over at me, raised his eyebrows, and said, “yeah, right,” then put me in a hotel limo on the hotel’s dime.  I arrived with plenty of time to have two flights cancelled and the last attempt to get home leave very late.  However, if the first flight left on time, I was there 90 minutes ahead, giving me plenty of time.

This leaves one last piece of advice.  Make sure to travel during non-peak times.  Mid-day, Monday-Thursday are best and you will usually only encounter experienced business travelers (fast through lines).  Wear easily slipped on and off shoes, put whatever you have in your pockets in your carry-on and ‘be sheep.’  Basically, staying pleasant will get you through most things.  Becoming combative with TSA or employees at an airport accomplishes nothing other than making sure you are ‘back of the bus.’  Keeping positive with airline and security employees, even when they are launching your laptop through the air at security by putting the belt on overdrive (yes, it did happen and I happened to catch mine in mid-air while others had theirs crash to the ground while other agents were yelling at the one who was being rebellious towards her superior), can get you through lines quicker, get you free upgrades and far better treatment rather than going in with an attitude.

Good traveling my friends…



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