For many, keeping up with running goals and an exercise routine over the holiday season is hard. Between the bad weather, short days, different events, and holiday food, staying active and healthy from Thanksgiving to New Year's can be challenging.
With the disruption of regular schedules combined with rich foods and alcohol, it's common for many runners and athletes to lose momentum during this time. Luckily, with the right mindset and some tips, you can navigate the holiday season while still moving your body.
If you can do so before the disruption of the holidays creep up and kill your momentum, plan far enough to keep holiday months from becoming crazy. Map out your preparation for the holidays and when a good time to train is.
The weather isn't always cooperative when it comes to running outside. If you're snowed in over the holidays, your training can still happen by signing up for a virtual race or run challenge. Virtual challenges are excellent because they often have challenges tailored to all fitness levels, from one-off challenges to set distances that can help motivate you to hit your goal, even when it's grey and freezing outside.
Virtual races allow you to train wherever and whenever you want, in the comfort of your home's environment. Virtual races also will enable you to prepare at your own pace.
Whether you are visiting family, having people stay at your home, or away from work, you can stay active by getting other people involved if the weather is cooperating. The social aspect of training can be very vital during this time of year. Team up with another runner, bring your cousin to break out their sports gear, and take a walk to explore after a big meal. Whatever it is, move with the people around you--safely in the face of Covid, of course--and have fun.
In stressful, busy times like the holidays, instead of focusing on improvement, focus on maintenance. Keeping your fitness baseline by staying active for 20 to 30 minutes a few times a week instead of pushing for hour-long sessions daily will help reduce pressure. Keeping healthy and allowing time to enjoy the holidays will feel more manageable than being hard on yourself for not having the time or energy to train at full speed.
Your running schedule will almost certainly be disrupted between the weather, vacation days, extra family time, and holiday events. One of the best ways to stay on track with your fitness goals is to remain flexible. Being willing to adjust the time of your run, switch to an indoor workout, or even shorten the length of daily training will help to ensure that you get workouts in and don't get discouraged. It can be easy to decide you've missed too many activities, so what's one more 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 can complete and the miles you can log.
When it's dark by 5 pm, it can be challenging 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 seasonal music to your running playlist.
The holiday season is busy and, for many people, the least healthy time of year. However, there are many ways to stay motivated and active throughout the holiday season. Be proactive this year and plan how to hit your running goals from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day. Doing this will help you stay healthier and more relaxed throughout the season and give you a good base for the New Year, setting you up for success with any resolutions.
If you're traveling to visit friends and family during the holidays, make a list and pack your running clothes and shoes. You may need a good run (some alone time), and can't be done if you forget to pack your gear.
If you'll be in a hotel, book one with a gym, which you can use to run a mile or two on a treadmill.
Don't give up if you're feeling the time crunch and have less time than you'd like. Use the time you have. There's no shame in shorter runs. What's important is consistency. It doesn't have to be miles long to count.
An essential thing in training during any holiday is to have fun. The holidays provide opportunities to relax and enjoy the moment, but it may not work out as planned. Sometimes we're tasked to crunch extra hours at work or home for holiday prep, shopping, and spending time with friends and family. To many, holidays come with a lot of stress. The last thing you need during the holidays is to be hard on yourself.
Dealing with anxiety-inducing situations, don't feel bad for taking a break from them. Rest and recharging are as essential as movement and fitness. Relax when and if you can to refresh yourself and prepare for what comes next. If you can go for a run to clear your head, it can help significantly, but if you can't—don't beat yourself up. Ensure you're getting enough sleep, and don't worry if you miss a run or two. You're doing as much as you can daily, and that's enough!
Make the most of this holiday season and take care of yourself as much as possible. We hope we've been able to inspire and assist with our running tips for the holiday season!