Updated: Feb 28
Regardless of what holidays you celebrate this time of year, the last six weeks of the year probably represent some additional stress in your life. Whether additional work stress, holiday get-togethers, family you might not get along with, or shopping for gifts for your love ones, the season isn’t always good tidings and joy, even if it’s a happy occasion for you.
Here are some thoughts about staying consistent with your running throughout the holidays.
1. Plan ahead
This is probably the big one. If you know you have evening holiday parties that turn a normal work day into a 14-hour ordeal, you might need to adjust your training week to accommodate. Plan ahead as best you can and determine when you’ll fit your run in, if at all. Some days, you may need to just let it go and enjoy life!
2. Emphasize consistency
Any run, no matter how short, helps maintain your fitness. I know, if you normally run for an hour, running for 10 minutes in between obligations feels worthless, right? Is it even worth getting dressed? It's worth it! No matter how much you 'normally' train, just ten minutes of running can carry an amazing amount of benefits! This article by David Roche summarizes some of the science behind this.
3. Don’t compensate
Let’s see, you had to skip an easy run this week for a work party. You should change another easy run to a tempo to make up for it and get some extra fitness, right? NO! Don’t run faster than planned to try and make up for skipping runs! In fact, you probably shouldn’t even add extra miles to easy runs make up for a missed run, though an extra mile to each run may not hurt. What you want to avoid is having multiple long or hard efforts in a week, if that’s not in your plan. When in doubt - ask your coach!
Look, I’m not a Nutritionist or Dietician. But as a coach, I ask you: please do not compensate in your nutrition by skimping some days to make up for indulging other days. I can almost guarantee it will backfire. Just make sure you’re getting enough EVERY DAY and if you feel like it on a special occasion, treat yo’self!
5. Take your stress into account
If you’re in the thick of training, you may need to back off during your busiest holiday times. If you’re experiencing extra stress, the body doesn’t know where it’s coming from. It all goes in one stress pile! So it may be necessary to decrease your training stress a little to accommodate increases in stress elsewhere in your life. This won’t just make your life easier, it’ll make your running better.
6. Don’t overtrain
Okay, you’re off from school/work/whatever for a few days to a week, and you can only deal with your family so much... time to train some extra miles, and live like a pro runner doing 20 miles every day followed by a nap, right? Well... maybe. A modest increase in the right context of your overall training might be a good use of your extra time. An aerobic build week might fit in really well during the holidays! If you’re already doing decent volume, you might add a double run or two that week. If not, perhaps you increase each easy run by a mile or two to take advantage of your extra time. Be careful if you do this to spend extra time on recovery and self-care!
For many athletes, I recommend using that extra time to build habits they might not have fully cemented yet, like strength and mobility, PT-style exercises, etc. For many athletes, this can be something that slips through the cracks during our busy weeks, and having a week with a little extra time to work on that can give you benefits for awhile, even if the habit doesn’t stick!
You could also use that extra time to drive to running routes you might not ordinarily have time to get to, and explore new places.
No matter what you do, leave plenty of time relax and enjoy this time of year. I wish you and your family a great last few weeks of 2022, and a stellar 2023!
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