Juggling Running, Work and Travel: A Week on the Road in Europe

by Paul Thompson

I’m often asked how I keep my running going while travelling for work. Well it’s not easy and I have no silver bullet but what follows is a summary of how I juggled running, work and travel this past week (see my log here).

Tuesday, November 13

I departed New York’s JFK for London Heathrow just before 9pm. I’d gotten a 7 mile run done in the morning. The overnight flight (what we call a ‘red eye’ in these parts) touched down soon after 8am. Within an hour I was on a bus to Gatwick Airport hotel where I was due to spend the night before getting a morning flight to Malta.

Wednesday, November 14

On arrival at the hotel I quickly checked in, got my running gear on and stepped out for an easy 5 mile run around the airport. When travelling I often trade one longer run for two shorter ones.  The aim was to speed up my body’s adjustment to the five hour time difference and revive my senses enough to stay awake.

Google Maps helped me navigate an offroad route through woodlands and fields. Heavy rain had left the ground sodden. As I braked hard at the end of the run I skidded onto my arse. This left me with a grazed elbow and bruised hip. Expletives rained from my mouth: this somehow made me feel better. Early evening I went out in the dark for a 5 mile fast run to nearby Horley and back.

Thursday, November 15

The alarm rang at 5am. I had a swift breakfast then boarded a bus to the airport. By noon I was in Malta, exchanging a damp and dreary 10C with a damp and dreary 18C. An hour later I’d checked in at the Excelsior and was having lunch with conference delegates. Within minutes of the afternoon session ending I was in shorts exiting the lobby for a steady 7 mile run along the Valletta waterfront.

Valletta waterfront

Friday, November 16

Plan A was to wake up early so I could do an easy short run before breakfast and then a longer one late afternoon. Well I’d discovered the snooze button on my new iPhone 5 and I canned Plan A. Instead I ran 8 miles later in the day, this time in the opposite direction to Thursday, past the ferry terminal and docks. While the weather was perfect the pavements were like an obstacle course. I ended the day with a divine dinner at Guze Bistro.

Superliner reversing into Valletta’s harbor

Saturday, November 17

This was my second business trip to Malta and this time I was determined to see some of the sights. So I extended a day and spent it with a Maltese friend. Before meeting him at 8am I ‘sneaked in’ a 4 mile run. After several hours of touring the sights (including the Hypogeum, St. John’s C0-Cathedral, and prehistoric neolithic temples, the latter Stonehenge on steroids) I set out for a 10 mile run at a steady pace from Valletta to Sliema and back. It was dark but a dry 16-18C. I’d logged 70 miles for the week.

Exercising my upper body at the stone temples

Sunday, November 18

My flight to London was at 12:30pm. Rather than run along the Valletta waterfront again I decided in favor of a late afternoon run in North London. Arriving at my St. Pancras hotel around 4:30pm it was dark by the time I got out. My near 8 mile run took me through a pitch dark Regent’s Park and a few loops of Primrose Hill. On the return leg I passed back through the park but had to climb over the gate to exit. Dinner was in my room care of M&S.

Monday, November 19

Once again (a pattern is forming) I opted to get some extra sleep and run later. After meetings in London I caught the train to my home town of Kettering. Early evening I stepped out and ran an unplanned 9 mile progressive tempo with mile splits starting in the 6:40s and ending under 5:30. Any cobwebs were blown away. Time for bed.

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