For most runners, training takes a hit during the holiday season. On top of travel, indulgent food and drink, and general change in routine, following a strict training schedule is rarely easy. Here are my tips for striking a balance between training and family time.
see also Six Running Tips For The Off Season
Make a Mantra
Last year, the holidays fell during one of the most important training cycles of my entire life: the build up to the Olympic Trials. With the marathon being only 1.5 months after Christmas, I didn’t feel as though I had wiggle room in terms of my run schedule. On Christmas morning I had a 12 mile run planned, and I used the mantra, “training is a privilege” to get out the door. Those four little words helped me ensure I didn’t miss a single run or lifting session.
When I’m not training for the biggest race of my life, I try to be realistic with my holiday plans. Identify areas in your training that you can slack for the week, and those in which you cannot. Will it tank your training if you don’t hit all your weekly core sessions? No. Should you get in that long run in, though? Yes. Identify which parts of your training plan must be accomplished, and consider the rest as bonus if you can get to them.
Catch up with Friends
If heading home for the holidays, look up old running partners and go for a run together. You will be killing two birds with one stone by being held accountable to exercise and seeing someone you may not have been able to otherwise.
Just because your training plan calls for a Saturday long run doesn’t mean you are unable to make adjustments. Be flexible during the holidays and give yourself grace. At the end of the week, the most important aspect is that you completed the work, not how it was completed.
Set Goals (and Rewards)
If you know you will struggle to stay on track during the holiday season, set goals and rewards for yourself. For instance, if you meet your mileage goal during the holiday chaos, treat yourself to that extra piece of pie. If you are able to complete 90% of your planned workouts, throw back an extra glass of eggnog. Get creative in order to stay motivated.
The holidays are a time to spend with friends and family and they come around only once per year. Years from now, you will not remember the workouts that you missed or the runs that were cut short, but you will remember the time spent with family and friends. Personally, I have food sensitivities that can make the holidays difficult. My mom is an amazing cook, which always leaves me with a conundrum: eat her food and potentially ruin a workout, or abstain but miss out on once-per-year enjoyment? I choose the former each and every time because I know there will come a day when I no longer have the opportunity to eat my mom’s famous apple pie or turkey gravy. Even though running is an important part of your life, never let it keep you from the things that matter most.
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