Get through the holiday season with daily advice from the editors of Competitor.
The Holiday season can be the most stressful and busy time of the year. With holiday parties, snow to shovel, cookies to bake, holiday beverages galore to consume and no winter races in the books it’s easy to fall off the health wagon. According to Health Guidance the average American gains between seven and twelve pounds during the holidays. But endurance athletes don’t fit into the same category as the average American. We wake up at 5 a.m. to go for a run before work; we forgo happy hour to meet our riding group. However, even the most dedicated endurance athlete can stray from their training schedule during the holidays.
There are ways to stay on track–or get back on track–if you take a slight detour. We will offer you a tip a day, Monday through Friday, for the month of December to help you get through the holiday season just a little bit easier and a whole lot healthier.
Come January your training partners will be asking you to slow down!
Dec. 1–Make A Plan!
The easiest way to stray from a plan is to never have one written out in the first place. With a planned out holiday season you will become more aware of opportunities that will get in the way of your workouts or eating healthy. Write out a calendar of events, parties, when to bake cookies for your kids cookie exchange, days spent at your in-laws and times reserved for just a few minutes of peace and quiet. Then pencil in your workouts where they fit. With your month planned out you can take a breather knowing you do in fact have time to fit it all in.
“Writing down my schedule is the difference between sleeping through a workout and getting up, working out and crossing it off my list of things to do for the day,” says Competitor Magazine editor Linzay Logan. “There is just something so satisfying about physically checking off that to-do list.”
Dec. 2–Cope With Indulgence
Want that second helping, extra cocktail or super-rich dessert?
“Savor your decision but own up to the fact that you indulged,” says Competitor Magazine senior editor Sabrina Grotewold. “When I do this I make amends the next day by extending my workout by 10-15 minutes and having a fruit, veggie and fat-free yogurt smoothie the next morning.”
Take the stairs instead of the elevator all day, and walk as much as possible, advises Grotewold.
Dec. 5–Start A Workout Log!
Now that you’ve followed the advice of Tip #1 and made a plan (right?!), keeping a log of your workouts and runs is a great way to track your exercise to make sure you are sticking to your schedule. It also gives you a big red flag to get back on track when there are several empty days in your log and is great motivation to look back at all you have accomplished.
“Keeping a training log, even if it’s as simple as writing how many miles I have run on a calendar, is great encouragement to continue working toward my goals,” says Competitor editor Linzay Logan. “I look at the calendar and say to myself, ‘I’ve ran this many miles over the last week, if I can fit in a few more miles I’ll be just that much fitter and faster come my next race.’”
Dec. 6–Run With Friends
It can be hard to stay motivated, or simply just tough to find time for a workout, during the holiday season, but it’s always easier to get out the door when you’re having fun and being held accountable. There’s no better way to achieve both of those ends than by meeting up with a friend for a run. Plot out a plan to meet up with a buddy for a run before work on Wednesday mornings, or set up a time for a weekend workout or group long run, in order to have a little fun and give some structure to your hectic holiday schedule.
“December is always a super busy month for me and it can be hard to get my butt out the door most days,” says Competitor.com senior producer Mario Fraioli, “but if I’ve made plans to meet someone for a run, it eliminates any possible excuses I might come up with.”
With cold weather clothing, look for thermo-regulation elements that regulate the body temperature by keeping you warmer in cold weather or cooler in warm weather.
“Invest in thermo-regulation clothing that controls your body temperature with each season,” says Competitor Magazine associate editor Cielestia Calbay. “I like lightweight fabrics with mesh ventilation to keep me cool in the summer and snug-fitting layers in the winter that are warm but still breathable.”
Dec. 8–Forego One Food Item
Instead of filling your holiday plate with everything that’s on the buffet table, make a conscious effort to leave off one fattening, sodium-filled, calorie-laden item and replace it with a preferably raw fruit, vegetable or nut.
“I’ll trade a white roll with butter for uncooked carrots and red bell pepper strips,” says Competitor senior editor Sabrina Grotewold.
Dec. 9–Learn A New Exercise
Doing the same workout routine over and over again is the best way to find yourself burnt out or injured. Adding new exercises to your workouts can bring new enthusiasm and you might even notice muscles popping out that you didn’t know were there.
“I love working my body in different ways all the time so no muscle is ever left behind,” says Competitor editor Linzay Logan. “Just adding weight or adding a twist to a classic exercise can make a big difference.”
Dec. 12–Find Time To Work Out
For the days you feel your schedule is so jammed pack you won’t have time to workout, set aside just a few minutes to do a quick indoor interval routine with no equipment needed. In just 10 to 15 minutes this high-intensity workout will get you sweating and your heart rate up. Complete each exercise for 30 seconds to one minute and repeat as many times as you have time for. Move quickly from exercise to exercise, only giving yourself a quick water break at the end of each round if needed.
- Run in place
- High knees
- Butt kickers
- Jumping jacks
- Jump rope
- Alternating forward lunges
- Mountain climbers
- Alternating backward lunges
- Tricep dips (on couch, bench, chair)
“I tend to sleep through my alarm a lot,” says Competitor editor Linzay Logan. “Instead of throwing my morning workout to the wind I will do a quick interval workout like this one to kick start my day without the guilt of missing my run.”
Dec. 13–Give Yourself A Goal
A goal is a good gift to yourself this holiday season. Whether it’s to set a PR before the new year, drop a few pounds or just get back into the routine of working out regularly, having something to shoot for during the holiday season can help keep you on point when it’s tempting–and easy–to put things aside. Reflect on the past year, find a void that needs to be filled, write it down and start going after it!
“I love the month of December because it’s a good time for me to reflect on the past year,” says Competitor.com senior producer Mario Fraioli. “I like to look back on what went well, what didn’t, and start giving myself new goals to work toward over the next 12 months.”