Foreign Eating Habits and Schedules

It’s been over a week since I captured my journey and my silence alone is proof that I have struggled in balancing work and training.  My schedule has been quite hectic leaving the  US on the 13th for Paris where I stayed briefly working in our French office before heading to Frankfurt for a day of preparation work (in a very nice office) and a couple of days of client meetings.  On Wednesday, I caught a plane plane late that night to return to Paris to prepare for additional client meetings.

Our Frankfurt office boasts an incredible view

Our Frankfurt office boasts an incredible view

Balancing travel, client meetings, preparations and sports simply didn’t happen this past week.  This current project has required extremely long hours and I’m not one to operate well with anything less than 6 hours of sleep and I frankly need 7-8 hours.  Less than that and I become stressed and often sick which makes things even worse and becomes quite counterproductive for both work and training.  The daily decisions to balance any level of training with the requirement to sleep and remain in ideal mental and physical position to focus on day-long client meetings, the need to participate in team activities and join sometimes lengthy dinners, and simply the lack of hours in any given day are a constant struggle and can be quite a source of stress.

As this looming challenging project arrived, I’d tried to plan for my travel as best as I could particularly mentally.  I know that while I travel the best I can hope for is to break even where I don’t loose much fitness.  Running is possible anywhere and as it is my weak point it is also the focus of my winter training.  As I travel I know that I can run and there’s not much excuse not to.  Even a 20 minute run is possible anywhere and I know that I am willing to sacrifice an hour of sleep for a short run so long as I have more than 6 hours of it.

Biking and swimming are harder while on the road.  I was just talking to a friend of mine and we agree that all major hotel chains around the world should have endless pools.  Sadly it doesn’t seem that everyone agrees with us and finding a pool large and long enough to have a good workout is harder than I once imagined.  Biking is similar though typically slightly more accessible, many hotels have a stationary bike but it requires more time and that is precisely what is missing when working on large projects away from home.

French cuisine is hard to resist

French cuisine is hard to resist

What I hadn’t planned for was the change in nutrition.  Europeans eat much later than Americans and it is just not conducive to training or healthy eating.  After lunch around 12 or 1 waiting until dinner at 8, 9 or 10PM is just too much and so two things happen.  The first is that by 6PM, my blood sugar is so low that I have to eat something – anything – such as chocolate, cookies, or random other things that are generally unhealthy.  By the time dinner arrives I’m absolutely famished and I eat way more than I need to and of course heading to sleep right after doesn’t exactly burn any calories.  Combine these bad eating habits with the incredible German food or French cuisine and you can get an idea that my nutrition has been less than ideal for the purposes of triathlon performance.

And so despite my best attempts to plan for training or even workload and travel, I missed the nutrition aspect of it.  As I plan to fly home in a few days and prepare to return to Paris I will certainly work on adjusting and better preparing my nutrition needs.  Of course I say this as I’m about to go home for Thanksgiving dinner which I would remiss to not eat a lot of considering my lovely wife apparently purchased the largest turkey available at our local grocery store…

4 thoughts on “Foreign Eating Habits and Schedules

  • About the late eating thing, one trick I regularly use is to carry with me 1 or 2 protein bars (Cliff Bar or Myoplex Lite) and I’ll eat one 2-3 hours before the planned late dinner. This helps me not binge once it’s dinner time and I’m famished. It also helps me sleep better (since I have less food in me when I get to bed).

  • It’s a very good tip. As I’ll be heading for a couple of weeks, I’ll bring a couple of boxes of Myoplex lite. I had missed that part of the planning and I think you’re right in that it’ll help a lot.

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