Project Alexandria Week Ten: Travelling for Racing

Written by Concept2 NZ on February 1st, 2018.

Living in New Zealand at the bottom of the globe, it is a fact of life that athletes competing internationally will likely face a long, not always comfortable journey to reach their event destination. With that in mind, in this week's update we check in with our Project Alexandria athletes, both experienced travelers, to get their tips for making it through long-haul flights, and find out how they plan to manage the 22hr trip from Auckland to Alexandria!

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How do you manage sleep on long flights, do you just sleep when you feel like it or is it more strategic than that?

Alistair: I guess I try to be a little strategic, but I am not sure if it really helps. When I get on the plane I try to set my watch to the time zone of my final destination and then sleep according to these times. In saying this though, I generally sleep awfully on planes, so perhaps trying to sleep whenever I can is a better approach...

Leah: Travelling to Alexandria from New Zealand will take us around 22hrs, and requires two flights. I will try to plan my sleep (or attempts at sleep) on the plane to fit in with night time in Alexandria, and plan stay awake during daylight hours. From past experience I know it isn’t always as straightforward as that so I won’t be too worried if I can’t sleep as much as I plan to.

What do you take on-board the plane with you to make the flight more comfortable?

Alistair: To be honest there is nothing too much I take, other than some snacks and a big bottle of water so I am not relying on staff bringing this around. Also, I try to make sure I have some deodorant on me.

Leah: I like to take some compression tights to change into on the plane, I find on the really long flights they help keep my circulation healthy and stop my legs from puffing up! I’m also a big fan of the neck pillow and noise cancelling headphones. Like Alistair, some snacks and water are always a good idea, in case the plane food isn’t great or I get hungry at odd times during the flight.

When you arrive what steps do you take to overcome jetlag?

Alistair: I have always been taught to maximize the blue light you get when you first arrive (no sunglasses), and to stay awake until a normal bed time at your new destination.

Leah: I find its important to try and get into a routine as soon as possible that fits with what I would usually do at home. I try to train at normal hours (adjusted for local time), fit in with local meal times and try not to go to bed too early. I find if I can be consistent in my routine over the first few days I tend to get over the jet lag a little quicker.

Do you have any stretches or mobilization exercises you would recommend for avoiding stiffness on long flights?

Alistair: Nothing in particular, but I try to regularly move my feet (or wiggle my toes at least) and every couple of hours I try to go for a bit of a walk around the cabin. For this reason, I quite like aisle seats.

Leah: Like Alistair, I try to keep my legs moving intermittently during the flight, flexing my feet in my seat, and lifting my knees up and down every so often. I find it is important to get up and walk around the cabin reasonably regularly (unless I’m trying to sleep) to avoid stiffness. I often find I end up sitting on my cabin pillow as well because the seats seem to get less comfortable the longer the flight is.

How does travelling long distance affect your weight? As a lightweight do you have to take precautions to minimize weight gain?
Alistair: I don't have any set rules, but I try to make sure I don't just eat because the food is there, and instead just eat when I am hungry. I usually weigh heavy when I arrive, but am back to normal in a couple of days if I follow my normal diet.

Leah: One thing I used to do when I was a lightweight rower was to request a low-fat meal on the plane, to avoid consuming too much sodium which can mean I end up drinking too much water and therefore gain weight. I’m not too concerned about this trip as 62kg is reasonably comfortable for me, and we will be arriving in enough time to shed any weight gained on the flight.


Stay tuned for next week's video update, our final post at home before departure to Alexandria!

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