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Exercising on the Road: How Data Keeps Me Motivated

Hi, guys! Peter Shankman here—Super-psyched to be a 2016 Runkeeper ambassador for countless reasons, but mostly because I’m living proof that running and exercise is for everyone, even those who live lives that keep them on the road 250,000 miles a year! I post both here and at shankman.com, and I host a podcast on ADHD called Faster Than Normal, where we talk about the benefits of having brains that move at supersonic speeds. Looking forward to connecting with all of you!

Flying 250,000 miles a year for work, you’d think I’d get tired a lot. You’d also think I’d get homesick. I actually don’t. I miss my daughter, of course, when I’m not with her, but at three years old, time isn’t really a concept to her past “one more Peppa Pig, Daddy” when it’s time to go to bed.

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I keep two things with me at all times on the road that keep me healthy and grounded back to my home. A photo of said daughter, and an app. The photo probably makes a lot of sense, but the app? How does that ground me?

Well, we all have routines. Every single one of us. It’s those routines that determine our lives, and what we do with them. The more we can focus on beneficial routines, the better our lives will be. And for me, my beneficial routines involve tracking data. If I can track the data, I can stick with the routine

My routine? Exercise. My app? Runkeeper. Waking up in different hotel rooms, on different continents, heck, in different hemispheres, definitely takes a toll on your body. But I’ve learned how to handle this constant flux better than most, and I’ll share a few of those tips.

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I don’t sleep on planes. It doesn’t matter how long the flight. The body is incredibly adaptive, and only really gets messed up when I get too much sleep. So if I’m flying to Tokyo on a 10:00 AM out of New York City, I’ll stay up for the 14 hours it takes to fly there, working or writing on the trip over. I’ll land around 4:00 PM Tokyo time the next day, head to the hotel, drop my stuff in my room,change into workout clothes, and head outside (the public parks in Tokyo are numerous and beautiful) to get a quick 45 minute run in. By the time I get back to my hotel, it’s around 8 PM. I’ll grab a super-light dinner and hit the sack. I’ll wake up around 5:00 AM completely refreshed. A visit to the gym, and I’m off to a day of speeches, meetings, and handshakes, looking as refreshed as if I’d just come out of a spa.

I don’t know the science behind why this works for me, but I know it does. I also know that being able to document every workout makes me much more likely to actually do the workout, vs. just think about doing it. See, when you don’t document, then doing something is just a possibility. Documenting it makes it a reality. “I have to run, otherwise I won’t keep up my streak,” is motivating. As is, “I’ve only got two days left to hit my mileage goal for the month.” Runkeeper reminds me what I have to do to keep my goals, and encourages me to do just that..

Traveling as much as I do produces quite a slippery slope. It’s easy to blow off one workout, or sleep in a bit, or have a couple of big dinners in a row. And with expense accounts, there’s accountability… It’s easy to get off track.

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Unless you have data watching your back. Using Runkeeper (in conjunction with MyFitnessPal and WiThings) guarantees I won’t fall off track. And the proof is real. About a year ago I noticed I was falling into a pretty bad rut. About 40 pounds had creeped up on me, and I was getting really unhappy. From a sub four-hour marathoner to having to buy larger pants? Not acceptable.

I decided to make some serious changes. The most important one was putting my life into the hands of data. If the numbers were in front of me, I couldn’t ignore them. I won’t lie, that first month was horrible. But then, like turning on a light, it got easier. And then, the best part? It became habit.

End result? Well, compare me one year ago with me today

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Trust in the data. Believe in the data. But to do both of those, you must first start recording the data. That’s where Runkeeper comes in. If I don’t record it, I have a hole in my tracking. And one hole leads to another hole, which leads to me not working out for two weeks and being miserable.

So I avoid the first hole. I exercise. No matter where I am, no matter what country, what time zone, or what mood I’m in. Every hotel has a 24-hour gym. Every hotel has a parking lot where you can run. Every hotel, at the very least, has stairs.

Start. Do something. And log the data. It’ll change your life.

Peter Shankman

About the author:
Peter Shankman

Peter Shankman is a multiple-startup founder with several successful exits under his belt. He’s a best-selling author, focusing on the customer economy. He’s the founder of Help a Reporter Out (HARO,) the world’s largest source/journalist matching tool, and he runs ShankMinds: Breakthrough, a private, online entrepreneur community with hundreds of members around the world, as well as Faster Than Normal, a leading ADD/ADHD podcast, focusing on the benefits of being gifted with ADD/HD. He's an Ironman Triathlete, a skydiver, and most importantly, a dad. He can be found at www.shankman.com.

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