Keep your Fitness on Track During the Holiday Season
Children wearing fuzzy scarves and warm knit hats, with rosy cheeks laughing as they skip up the snow covered path to grandma’s house. Aren’t your holidays like that?
Or, does this season look a bit more like leaving for work in the dark, running with a headlamp in the cold, people honking on El Camino as you inch your way along, with long lines and rain wherever you go? Eating much more food than you need (no matter how good it is), and skipping stretching and rolling most of the time because your schedule is packed?
Truthfully, to get the payoff of a few cherished hours of peace with family or friends on holiday mornings, we must manage the pitfalls of the other days of November and December. When winter and the festive season isn’t quite so jolly for your fitness goals, here are a few tips for ways to stay on track.
First things first: Plan the key days well in advance
You may not get in every run, and you may not be able to keep the training rhythm you are used to, but get the key workouts in. If your long run is crucial, or you need that interval workout, plan that workout for a day when you are sure you can get it done. Put a a big X on the calendar and protect that time.
Use a jingle jog as a tempo run
It can be hard to motivate for a sustained effort in the cold and in the middle of family festivities. But if you've registered for a race, you’ll have a hard start time, people to run with, and maybe even the additional benefit of motivating a family member or two to join you.
Practice performance and mitigation hydration
It can be easy to forget to drink water when so many festive holiday beverages are on offer. Winter weather and heated indoor environments can be dry and deceptively dehydrating as well. Running may be tough to schedule during this time, but when you get out there, you want to feel as good as you can. Take care to hydrate to counteract the effects of those other drink options as well as to thrive in the workouts you do get in.
Make running dates with others
When the weather is suboptimal, it's easy to just bag the workout or procrastinate until it is too late in the day. Making plans to meet a group or another running buddy can keep you accountable and on track for that day. Every day down is one day closer to the resumption of regular schedules in January.
Focus on what you have gotten done, not on what you haven’t
At no other time during the year is your schedule as packed and unpredictable as it is during the holidays. Not everything will be done on time or perhaps at all. However, some things will get done; sometimes you'll even be able to say you did them well. Focus on the accomplishments, pat yourself on the back; for what you've missed, forgive yourself and move on.
And I hope that by following these tips you'll be able to snap back into shape in the new year more easily than you expect.
Coach Dena Evans leads the Silicon Valley-based Strava Track Club.