I have two very active trips coming up so, yes, I'm in physical training for travel.
One is a walking trip through the Loire Valley of France with Exodus Travels. The second is a weekend cycling trip north of Toronto from Uxbridge to Peterborough. (There is more information on the trips below.)
In France I'll do three days of walking: one day at 15 km, a second at 19 km, and a third at 21 km.
I always walk a lot when I travel but in Tokyo I did one 18 km day, which is more than usual. I was absolutely exhausted.
That was when I realized that I had to train for France.
Then I thought about the cycling trip I have planned. It involves a 100 km ride over two days.
I'm now training for both trips.
I Thought I Was Fit, But…
I'm a writer. I work at home. It's a pretty sedentary work life when I'm not on the road.
A few years back I read Younger Next Year as recommended by my doctor. As a result, I changed my lifestyle to be active six days a week. And I've stuck to it. But then I learned that too much of my activity was walking. One spring when I tried to lift my leg over the seat of my bike at the beginning of the season, I couldn't do it. My flexibility had been seriously compromised by doing too much of one activity. So, I started swimming some days instead of walking. Then I added a trainer two days a week. This brought me to March of this year, my trip to Japan, and my 18 km day.
I do so much. Why was I so tired?
That's where my plan to get in shape for travel and my choice of the TomTom Spark 3 watch comes into the story.
I did a lot of research before buying this watch and I've been using it for about six weeks now. It tracks my steps each day but, more importantly, it tracks my activity when I'm working out. For me, this includes:
- Gym time
Of course, it also covers running and indoor cycling, treadmill, etc.
The most important aspect of this watch is that it tracks my heart rate for all these activities and gives me points for the intensity of my workout. If I go beyond 500 points it gives me a star because then I'm into a zone in which I am actually improving my fitness level.
I love getting a star but as my fitness level improves it gets harder to earn one.
My conclusion after a week or two was that, as a writer who sits most of the day, all my walking and swimming and workouts with the trainer simply had me increasing my activity level to that of a normal person who walks to the bus stop, goes out of the office for lunch, walks down halls to meetings, etc. I had been feeling virtuous with my dedication to my morning workouts but, if you'll excuse the pun, I was simply treading water.
I'm in Physical Training for Travel
I clearly needed to improve my fitness level. I consulted the trainers at the gym and came up with my training plan. Here's what I'm doing.
- Monday – 4 km intense walk in the morning. This breaks the 500 points goal.
- Tuesday – gym workout with trainer in the morning. Longer, less intense walk in the evening. Together they exceed 500 points.
- Wednesday – morning cycle, about 20 km. Beats the 500 points because I do this in less than 90 minutes.
- Thursday – 4 km intense walk. Again, 500 points.
- Friday – gym workout with trainer. I don't reach the magic 500 points.
- Saturday – 6 km leisurely walk. I don't reach it on this day either.
- Sunday – Long bike ride. Last week I did 42 km. This gets to about 800 points. Whoop!
I plan to build up my endurance by:
- Increasing my walking on Tuesday evenings to 15 km. I leave in a week so this will be about how far I go at home.
- Increasing my cycling distance to 50 km on one weekend day and then, in a few weeks, splitting that over Saturday and Sunday with two 25 km days and then increasing both of those days weekend by weekend.
How to Use the TomTom, Watch, App, and Site
The TomTom Spark 3 is pretty easy to use but it would have been helpful to have this summarized for me, so I'll do it for you.
- Sign up for MySports.TomTom.com. Sign up and add the basic information to your profile.
- Under the “Heart Rate Zone” tab, accept or modify your maximum heart rate which was preset based on your age.
- Under preferences, indicate the units you want to use. For example, my weight units are in pounds and my distance units are in kilometers. Yes, I operate in both metric and imperial systems.
- Choose whether you want your activity results exported to another app beyond the TomTom app. See below.
- Download the TomTom sports app to your phone. You'll use your online account to sign in to the app.
- Connect your watch to the app on your phone. On your watch, click down from the time, choose phone, click right, choose pair new.
- To record an activity. This is easy. Click right, scroll up or down to choose your activity, noting, for example, whether you're cycling indoors or outdoors. It will say, “Please Wait.” When it says, “Get Going,” click to the right again and your activity will be tracked. You'll also be able to see certain information on the watch as you do your activity, such as distance and time.
- Sync your app and watch to see your activity. When you finish your activity, open the app on your phone, wake up your watch by clicking left, and then syncing from the watch to the app should begin. It may take a moment or two.
- Click left for more information. When you're not doing an activity, you can click left to learn the distance you've walked that day, the amount of time you've been active, the number of steps you've taken, and your points for the day.
- It tells the time, too. Those are just the basics of the TomTom watch. On the face where you see the time you'll also see a star if you earned one that day.
A few notes:
- The battery lasts 2-3 days depending on how much it's being used with the GPS. If I'm at the gym, the GPS isn't on so the power supply lasts longer than if I'm walking outside.
- The easiest way to set goals is on the website under “Progress” and then “Goals”.
More Apps and Resources
There are dozens of fitness apps on the market. Here are a few.
- Strava. TomTom will connect with the Strava app. The big difference between Strava and TomTom is the social component. I follow my sister and a few other family members. We can see when we each do a workout and give kudos.
- FitnessPal. This app connects to your TomTom watch to track your activity and includes calorie and nutrition tracking as well.
- Marathon Dynamics – A recommendation from my sister: if you're traveling to run – seriously run – you might want to contact Marathon Dynamics for a scientific approach to your training.
More About the Trips
Exodus is an adventure travel company. They have adventures on every continent involving just about every activity you could think of. But they're also about the culture, tradition, cuisine, and lifestyle of the destination. As for my trip, I'm off to France on one of their self-guided walking trips.
I could have gone on their Mont Blanc trek. Actually, no, I couldn't have. That would likely be too much for me. I'm going on their Headwater – Rivers and Chateaux of the Loire Walk. It's a level two. I'll be walking for three days over the course of a week for about four hours per day.
Then, in July, I've going on a weekend cycling trip north-east of Toronto from Uxbridge to Peterborogh. It's a two-day, one-night trip and I have a choice of riding either 85 km or 100 km over the two days. I'm aiming for 100 km. This will be the greater challenge as I have not done any bike touring for a long time. To do 50 km in a day would be easy. But to do it two days in a row? There's the challenge. Yes, I'm in.