This past week, I was in Austin, Texas at SXSW Interactive 2012. It was an incredible experience that blended technology, networking, great food, and alcohol into one glorious mix. One thing it did not do was blend exercise and moderation -- instead, I was often filling my stomach with tacos and tasting local beers.
How does one prevent themselves from falling into this trap? Fraternizing over food and drink is one of the most human things you can do. It's not easy to make friends by asking them to run 10 miles instead of drinking a Lone Star and people watching on Sixth Street.
From Thursday through Wednesday, I only ran a total of 8.25 miles. That is not my idea of a good week in the running department. But is there anything you can do to have a ton of fun while still staying focused on your health and exercise? Here are three tips to maximize your time.
Walk to the venues instead of riding the shuttle. I know that during the heat of the day a two mile walk is too much to ask, but walking from the Austin Convention Center to the Driskill Hotel is completely manageable. You'll also be able to check out the cornucopia of hipsters, nomads and free spirits hanging out on Sixth Street.
Don't get too drunk, even though the liquor and beer is often free. There's nothing worse than waking up at 8 AM to go running, only to realize that you have a monster headache from those gin and tonics you guzzled last night at an open bar. Keep the drinking moderate and you'll be able to get some early morning trail runs in without cramping your style.
Balance your food intake - not every meal has to be a culinary experience. Austin is the home of some of the world's greatest tacos and barbecue. Feel free to eat them. But to eat tacos at every meal is a very big risk for both your intestines and your exercise plans. Find that local market and buy some fresh fruits for your rental. A nutella, peanut butter and banana sandwich at breakfast is going to keep you going a long time and won't bust your gut.
This list can be applied to any weeklong event you find yourself at. Don't do anything to excess and don't take your exercise regimen for granted and you'll have a balanced, healthy and rewarding week.