Internal Auditor
June 1, 1997

On the Road Running
(Keeping Fit While Traveling)


On the road running
(Keeping Fit While Traveling)

By David A. Crowell
Internal Auditor
Vol. 54, 06-01-1997, pp 54(2)

*** See paragraph 13 for the bit about Hashing ***

The on-the-road lifestyle of an interal auditor presents a major challenge to anyone trying to maintain a level of fitness. Two major challenges must be addressed to stay fit: locating a suitable place to work out and coping with poor dietary options. As an avid runner who has been confronted with these challenges myself, let me offer these tips.

1. Plan ahead. Make a phone call or two to find out about current conditions at your destination so that you can identify appropriate clothing for the climate. Also check the Internet for a running club at your destination before leaving home. You can e-mail the club and ask for information on trails, races, precautions, and weather. Most major cities have a running club that is already on the Internet.

2. Be flexible. If you're in a densely-populated urban setting, or in a location where your safety is in doubt, you might want to workout in the hotel if it has a treadmill, or run steps in the stairwell, or "cross-train" for the time you will be there on whatever equipment the hotel has available. The hotel may have a "stepper," or stair machine, for example. While not a true substitute for actual running, a stair machine provides a level of strength training that only very severe hills can duplicate.

3. Meet the concierge. Ask if there are any jogging routes documented from your hotel. The hotel may have multiple routes with mileage indicated. The concierge can also steer you away from questionable neighborhoods. In Fort Worth, for example, I was directed to a nice path along the Trinity River that took me out of the downtown area very quickly. This type of information can also usually be obtained from the front desk or the bell captain.

4. Ask questions. Perhaps the hotel has an arrangement with a local health club allowing guests to use the facility for free, or for a nominal charge. Some may only have treadmills, but others will have indoor tracks. On one occasion I traveled with a coworker who was training for a marathon. Due to the heat and high humidity we experienced on the south side of Puerto Rico (Ponce), he decided to do his "long day" on a treadmill at the hotel. His run that day covered the equivalent of 18 miles, watching himself in a mirror the whole time. While it may not be the best option, a treadmill can be serviceable.

5. Be prepared. When you head out to the streets, carry a piece of hotel stationery with your name on it and your driver's license. This combination will give you the address if you get lost and provide valuable information if you are involved in an unfortunate incident, such as an accident or mugging. Leave your room key at the front desk and don't put your room number on the stationary. You might also consider taking a $20 bill in case you need a taxi ride back to the hotel.

6. Consider an early morning run. If you must run downtown, this provides the dual benefit of greater safety due to reduced traffic congestion and also gets you out before the air gets unhealthy.

7. Seek unusual places to run. Light industrial parks make an excellent running site, especially in the early evening as businesses close. Another option is the local high school track. These are usually open and if practice is not being held, you will have the place to yourself. Each of these also tend, by their nature, to get you away from another running hazard: dogs.

8. Pack essentials in your carry-on bag. If you leave your running shoes, socks, and basic running apparel in your checked bags, you run the risk of being victimized by misdirected luggage.

9. Try to arrive early at your destination. An early arrival may allow you to get in your first run before your job assignment starts making demands on your time. If everything works against you, at least you will get in one good run. But, if all goes well you will be able to better optimize your time once the work schedule gets hectic since you will have already tended to your workout logistics.

10. Don't order from the menu. Many restaurants will prepare chef salads and fruit plates if asked. I've found room service to be especially helpful in this regard. If all else fails, order soup and salad from the appetizer column of the menu as your entree.

11. Acquire your own supply of snack food. You might want to take a private stash of favorite non-perishable foods with you to some locations. When I recently spent a month in China, I took three boxes of granola bars. As I bought souvenirs, they filled the space created by my dwindling "stash." Also, you might want to find a grocery store at your destination where you can buy some healthy snacks or fruit.

12. Watch the water. Some individuals aren't as accustomed to carrying bottled water as those in different pans of the world. A lesson should be learned from our friends across the world: even when the local drinking water is safe, a traveler's system can be "distressed" by unfamiliar water. Plan to tote your own. As you travel to developing countries, redouble your efforts to avoid the local water. Also avoid ice in your drink and fresh vegetables that have probably been washed in local water.

13. Try hashing. It is appropriate that this is the thirteenth item on the list; some will view it an unseemly activity, and the uninitiated may consider their participation an unlucky venture. But if you're a little on the rowdy side, in decent shape, and tolerant of the indulgence of others, you might find it fun to participate in a local hash.

Short for "Hash House Harriers," hashing is an informal group of " drinkers with a running problem." They follow a paper or chalk trail, which may go through town or the countryside, laid out by other members of the group earlier in the day. The hour or so race ends in a big party, called a "down-down," sponsored by the "hash master." My only experience with this organization is in China, but it is a group with worldwide representation and Internet sites.

There's a whole world out there for the runner to discover, whether on the job or on vacation. If I weren't a runner, I'd never have experienced: a mountain-top view of the Pearl River estuary in south China; a hillside vineyard in southern Germany; a "perfect" 5K running path in Houston' s Memorial Park; the serenity of Assisi, Italy, when the tourists are asleep; the granite splendor of Aberdeen, Scotland; the early morning stillness of the Gulf of Mexico in St. Petersburg, Florida; and the natural beauty of Stavanger, Norway.

Lace 'em up!

David A. Crowell, CISA, is Senior IT Audit Specialist for Phillips Petroleum. E-mail address dacrowe@ppco.com

COPYRIGHT 1997 Institute of Internal Auditors

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