For many people, it’s hard to keep up with running goals and an exercise routine over the holiday season. Between the bad weather, short days, extra events, and holiday food, it can be hard to stay active and healthy from Thanksgiving to New Years. And this year, with most holiday races cancelled, it could be even harder to stay motivated.
Because of the many restrictions still in place across the country due to COVID-19, this holiday season promises to look different for most people and will likely bring some unique stressors and challenges. The good news, however, is that with fewer events scheduled, this year might be the perfect time to set some good holiday habits and new holiday traditions.
Here are a few ideas to help you get you started, keeping you healthy and active throughout the holiday season.
Sign Up for a Virtual Turkey Trot
Thanksgiving has become the biggest race day in America, as millions of families have made Thanksgiving-morning turkey trots a cherished tradition. Having this race on the calendar is a good way to stay motivated in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, and it’s also a good way to kick off the holiday season.
Even though most turkey trots are canceled this year, you can still keep the tradition going by signing up for a virtual turkey trot. And, it’s worth noting that many of these races benefit food banks, so signing up for a Feeding America virtual race can also be a good way to help others in your community.
Make a Thanksgiving to New Year’s Challenge
One way to avoid the holiday fitness slide is to have a running challenge for the season. For example, your challenge could be to run every day (even if it’s only one mile) or to hit weekly mileage goals or to complete a weekly long run. Get creative and come up with a challenge that is achievable while also giving you something to work towards. Plus, because this holiday season will have fewer events than previous ones, this might be the perfect year to start a tradition of having a Thanksgiving to New Year’s running challenge.
Between the weather, vacation days, extra family time, and holiday events, your running schedule will almost certainly be disrupted. One of the best ways to stay on track with your fitness goals is simply to stay flexible. Being willing to adjust the time of your run, to switch to an indoor workout, or even shorten the length of a daily workout will help to ensure that you get workouts in and don’t get discouraged. It can be easy to decide that you’ve missed too many workouts, so what’s one more or to skip because you don’t have time for all of it. By avoiding that temptation and staying flexible, you’ll be surprised by how many workouts you’re able to complete and miles you’re able to log.
Come up with New Goals
In addition to a holiday challenge, consider coming up with some new longer-term goals. Getting creative with goals around the holiday season can be the perfect way to add some motivation and energy to your weekly workouts. Maybe you’ve always wanted to train for a triathlon or a trail race. Or, maybe you’d like to add a weekly yoga or pilates class to your routine. Whatever goals you’re interested in, the holiday season can be a great time to get creative and to set some new ones for the upcoming year. Coming up with new goals can be a simple way to add the extra push that you need to stay active during the winter months.
Take Advantage of Holiday Lights and Decorations
When it’s dark by 5 pm, it can be difficult to get motivated to go out for a run. However, an added perk of running in the dark during the holidays is taking advantage of holiday decorations and lights. Holiday decorations offer a good distraction, and running past lights can help to get you in the holiday spirit. During the holidays, consider running through different neighborhoods every day so that you get to enjoy lots of decorations. And, you might even want to add some seasonal music to your running playlist.
The holiday season is busy and, for many people, the least healthy time of year. However, there are plenty of ways to stay motivated and active throughout the holiday season. Be proactive this year and make plans for how you’ll hit your running goals from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. Doing this will not only help you stay healthier and more relaxed throughout the season, but it will also give you a good base for the New Year, setting you up for success with any resolutions.