By: Shalaya Kipp
Greetings from a busy bird! I wanted to share some highlights from a recent steeplechase in the UK as well as some advice for the exciting endeavor of racing overseas.
I believe that preparing your body for long distance or international travel is as important as training for the actual race. Valuable components to racing well can be destroyed if we don't take the time to get in travel condition. I guess you could say this #nerdbird takes it pretty seriously!
Before leaving for London, I started to shift my body’s internal clock (SCN or suprachiasmatic nucleus) by avoiding bright light at night, and taking melatonin to help me go to bed at an earlier hour. In the early morning expose myself to bright light. I used this technique to go to bed a half hour earlier every night and wake up a half hour earlier. Before the night of my flight I went to bed at 7:30pm. Hey, that’s a 3-hour shift I made from my normal 10:30pm bed time! Sarabi kitty looks skeptical, but this really can help whether you are going to London or New York!
In addition to my sleeping habits, I started to shift when I ate my meals. The SCN is our major internal clock, but we also have clocks in our periphery. Our stomach is a good example. By eating just a little earlier every evening and morning I helped resynchronize my clock via stomach acid secretion and hormone release.
While we are on the subject of eating, exotic eating is something that makes travel exciting. However on race day morning, I like to have a back up plan. When packing I always throw in a few packs of oatmeal and some almond butter, just to be safe.
While traveling I like to wear compression socks. These socks squeeze the foot and calf where blood can pool during long flights. Compression socks help push the venous blood back up to the heart, thus less uncomfortably swollen ankles. I also got out of my seat to move my legs and visit the bathroom an embarrassing amount of times.
When you are flying, air pressure in the cabin is pressurized to about equivalent to the outside air pressure at 6,000–8,000 feet above sea level. Thus less oxygen is taken up by the blood (hypoxia) for 8 hours, or however long your flight is. As a consequence, you may experience altitude diuresis (which just means you have to pee a lot). Your body does this to make the blood more concentrated. So I can’t stress hydration enough! DRINK DRINK DRINK! I drank about 2 liters during my two flights to London.
Upon landing in London, I made my way to Hyde Park for a post flight shakeout run. After more than 11 hours of travel, my legs felt very heavy and unhappy, but I chose to focus on sightseeing while doing this run. That shift in mindset helped and I finished this task accomplishing two things at once!
Diamond League races are special. They are the cream of the crop for track races and take place all around the word. I am grateful and excited to represent Oiselle on this elite international stage.
London will always have a special place in my heart from the 2012 Olympics. Walking into the stadium this time, I felt more composed than 4 years prior. As a 21-year old junior in college I was overwhelmed by the stadium and size. I remember being disoriented and almost dizzy. This time was different, I walked into the stadium focused and determined.
Even with somersaulting over a barrier in this race, I was satisfied to finish 5th.
Regardless of what happens during these races, remembering to enjoy them is probably the number 1 piece of advice I have when traveling for races. I really loved sharing post-race ice cream with these wonderful steeple people at the iconic London Tower Bridge.