Running while traveling

in the middle of low volume plan for crit + gran fondo.

I live in the northern Midwest and hate winter, so I’m frequently traveling for short trips and without my bike for a few days and I find myself feeling like my fitness undulates because I’m gone for 4-7d at a time. fyi, typically not in hotels.

wondering what your thoughts are on running to supplement aerobic fitness while away?

i’ve never been much of a runner. I kind of hate running lol.

what should I be doing to avoid slipping backwards?

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Personally I think running is a great way to maintain aerobic fitness. Side benefit is improving bone density which is lacking in a non impact non weight bearing activity like cycling. Very good to help with muscle balance too. I did that for many years when involved in multisport racing and it had definite benefits.


Pre-covid I traveled for work a lot and that was a big motivator to keep running going. It is super easy to travel with running gear and a great way to explore a new area.

You will limit the fitness you can gain in cycling, but for sure you can mitigate that to some degree through a good running program. As noted, there are other reasons beside that though for every cyclist to incorporate some running into their training.


Given I travel quite a lot, I see 3 options during business travel: a) running, b) hotel gym bikes, and c) do nothing. Option c) is lame, my experience with b) is dismal and I find it utterly unmotivating. I do a), all the time. It’s easy (bring one kit, wash it daily in the shower), helps a lot with jet lag, and really makes business trips more enjoyable. I can actually say I know some of the cities I’ve traveled to, rather than having been limited to airports, hotels, meeting rooms and restaurants.


+1 to it being a great supplement, with the asterisk that:

I’ve had a few cycling friends transition into running, and they’ve all gotten injured quickly. From my outside observation, it seems like their already great aerobic fitness enabled them to power their way into overuse injuries. You might have the aerobic fitness to run for an hour, but still take that slow buildup to allow other parts of your body to adapt.


You other option is to find spin classes in the areas where you travel…you can almost always buy single day or multi-day passes w/o having to be a “member”. Bring a pair of shorts and MTB shoes with you and you can at least get some bike training done.

Or buy a travel case and bring your bike with you…most airlines have done away with bike fees.


Suboptimal for sure. However, if you’re hotel has a gym, use it as an opportunity for some weight training! Especially for people who aren’t experience runners: get your 15-20 min run in, then lift.

This…this is a really good idea. Some hotel gyms might have Pelotons, too, and you could do a lot worse.

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These options wouldn’t work with the sort of travel and work schedules I end up with. Checked luggage? Never. Certainly not traveling to the US with connections. And spin classes - unlikely to fit anywhere in a day of meetings etc. That’s why I enjoy the running option: go out early before everyone wakes up, just like at home.

Cyclists are probably more vulnerable. But lets face it, most novice runners get themselves injured whether already fit or not. And experiences runners too. It’s just hard on the body. I’ve been doing it for 25 years because it’s my thing, but damn if I know for sure if I am pressing too hard until something hurts.


can you elaborate on this a bit?

I am going to be starting a job as a travel doctor where I will essentially be living out of a hotel for 2 weeks out of the month.
I was considering buying a travel trainer, and possibly leaving it + a cheap trainer bike at the hotel i’ll be primarily living out of/hospital I’ll be at.

I really want to try and advance my post-residency fitness as much as possible, but that will obviously be challenging when on the road.

like @rocourteau said, doing nothing is not an option. hotel gym bikes? TBD. idk where i’ll be placed yet. might not have access to a quality gym.
running seems like a versatile, viable option.

Have you thought about stairs sprinting/running?! it will add some snap in your legs! it has a profound affect on my legs.


Stairs are good, bring a back pack, put 10+kilos in the back, find some steep paths/stairs outside and do some reps. I’s bet you’d get a good workout in 15 minutes and not over use anything. Even on the flat, maintain a fast walking pace with weight on the back and I’m sure you’ll get those lungs and legs working and keep any impact low that could cause injury.

I make a point of doing at leat 1 run in every new country I visit. Some have been spectacular and all memorable. It’s a great way of “connecting” to a place.

Most recent was southern India where a short run had me pouring with sweat due to the heat and humidity - returned to my hotel room to find there had been a power cut and the air-con wasn’t working!


Triathlon / duathlon style balancing of cycling and running is what I had in mind.

The deal with running is you need to do it frequently always to be able to do anything meaningfully while on the run focus week and not injure or overtrain yourself. Once you build a strong foundation, you can knock out big run focus weeks while away, then when you return put run in maintenance mode and focus on cycling. Here I would try to keep the running during time you have access to a bike to minimum of 3 days/week. 4 better. But they don’t need to long workouts. Your case would end up being micro-cycles of run/bike focus on a monthly scale. That’s extreme compared to what I did, and probably not ideal for even combined cycling /run fitness. But done right I suspect you could build a surprisingly good level of fitness in each.

In the end, the most important thing is to move your body within the constraints you face. That’s all any of us our trying to do. Over time, optimize your life to be able to do that how you most prefer. Sometimes there will be periods it’s not ideal. The more you can weather those storms with activity, the higher your ceiling when everything goes together a bit smoother and in your control.

(Used to) Travel a lot. Biz travel. Running is great, makes this annoying biz travel more bearable. Explore great cities like Paris or Stockholm by running in the morning. Always enjoy(ed) it.

However, when it comes to training I don’t know. Really depends on the context. For someone at 5h/week it may help with development. Probably not so much for someone at 15h/wk and a fairly high fitness level. One can’t really do a lot of volume with running.

I always try to use those travel days as recovery days. Probably a very popular strategy.

I too used to travel a lot for work. Running was my favorite thing about all the travel. Super simple being that the kit is minimal. I’d always run before sunrise. I saw a lot of European cities and tourist attractions w/out crowds of annoying people :smile: City vibes when it’s pre-dawn and super quiet is very cool.

If you’re not used to running, be careful not to overdo it (time or pace). Probably best to go slow and short (max 30min).


This will massively increase the loading on your joints and soft tissues, not reduce it. When you run, the peak force through your legs is approx 3x your bodyweight on each step - adding 10kg to you backpack adds 30kg to your knees. If an inexperienced runner tries doing stair reps with 10kg on their backs and doesn’t get patellar tendinopathy or a quads strain I’ll eat my hat.

Agree, I probably wasn’t totally clear, I wasn’t advocating running with a pack on for someone not experience, especially with 10 kilos.
I was on about walking, stair repeats walking, flat fast pace walking, all designed to increase effort to do the said task with less body impact.

I have this trainer for race day, but I think in the summer when I need to go on business for 2+ weeks I might take this with me. Good idea.

Otherwise running is a great idea. Only downside is if you are somewhere really built up, e.g. Tokyo, the hotel treadmill is much more efficient.

Getting slightly off topic, but that’s precisely why running compliments cycling. As mentioned upthread, cycling alone will lead to reduced bone density, especially with age, and running impact forces will help counter that (other stuff is needed for upper body - e.g. weights).

Honestly, unless you plan on being a pro cyclist through to old age (and probably even then), you need to consider your general health and fitness as well as your cycling ability year on year. Developing osteoporosis in your 60’s may well, on reflection, seem like a poor pay-off for exclusively chasing faster cycling gains when you’re younger.