Training Tips for the Holiday Season
December 6th 2019
Shopping, hectic work schedules, travel, time with friends and family. The holidays are a festive, but busy time of the year and we often neglect ourselves in the process, including our self-care.
With so much going on, it can be hard to find time for any sort of training regimen. However, you don’t have to let your fitness slide during the holidays – and you can do so without using all those Christmas sweets as guilty motivation, either! Here, we share five surprisingly simple tips for staying fit during the holiday season and into the new year.
Be an early riser.
Afternoons and evenings can be crazy around the holidays, often filled with errands as well as lots of other people, resulting in busy roads and congested transportation. As your to-do list grows, and with less sunlight available, training can fall to the wayside during these evening hours. The solution? Embrace the morning for your runs and rides! Exercising in the morning ensures that you find the time for your training, without the pressure or guilt of squeezing in time later in the day.
Not a morning person? In addition to finding time to train, early birds might also experience several other benefits, such as increased productivity and mental fitness and greater positivity. Feeling tired in general? Early risers are found to have improved sleep – one study shows that people who exercise at 7 a.m. experienced longer and deeper sleep than people who exercised later in the day. It can also lower your blood pressure for the duration of the day. Are you a student or studying for a professional exam? Research suggests that early risers scored better than those who slept later.
In general, you can seize these special morning hours as a way to refresh, organise, enjoy some much-needed solitude or set goals and plans for the day and week ahead.
Establish a routine.
Establishing a consistent training routine can also help keep you on track during the holiday chaos. Select certain days of the week for training, and carve out a specific time frame, allowing an hour, 30 minutes, or even just a 20-minute block of time for your workout. Remove obstacles that may prevent you from sticking to your routine, like a daily reminder or packing ahead so that you have the proper gear with you when you need it. (You might even reward yourself for sticking to your goals with a new gym bag or running gear!)
The first step is often the hardest, but try to stick with your routine for at least a week, if not a month. You may discover that once you commit to a routine, it becomes easier and a regular part of your lifestyle, beyond the holiday season. Don’t give up! One study suggests that it takes about two months to form a habit. If you miss one training day, focus on the next one.
Find a training buddy.
You don’t have to go it alone – after all, the holidays are a time to come together with friends and family, old and new. Training with someone else can provide a kick of motivation and help hold you accountable to your routine.
Don’t have a companion that enjoys training? Consider joining a local running or cycling club. If you look online for clubs in the UK, you’ll find several searchable directories to find the best group by level or geography. For example, Red Bull has a list of the top running “tribes” in London, including a midnight running club and an all-female club. And if you can’t find the right group, you can always start one!
Training with others might improve your overall performance and technique, too. Running clubs often provide coaches who can help you improve your form and speed and avoid injuries from improper training or from simply overdoing it. For more, see this post on the benefits of joining a running club.
Training the same way every day can become tiresome over time. And, with longer runs or rides, sometimes enough is just enough. The solution may be as simple as training with others or trying a different route. You may also want to explore other cross-training activities, such as strength training, hiking or swimming. Adding these different types of activities into your routine will help you cope with tired days and avoid exhaustion. Many running clubs incorporate additional elements like yoga or strength-training for a full mind and body workout.
Yoga, for example, is an ideal practice for injury prevention for both runners and cyclists. Swimming is also a great complement to any type of training, as it will strengthen different muscles and improve your cardiovascular fitness. We came across this helpful sample swimming workout for runners:
Warm-up: 200 yards
Drills of choice: 8×50 yards, followed by 100 or more yards of kicking (with an implement like a kickboard)
Continuous aerobic swim: Set a challenging goal here!
Warm-down: 100 yards
Get great gear.
It’s cold out! Our last tip is to make sure you're prepared for outdoor training with the right cold weather gear. At this time of year, fleeces, base gear, vests, hats, layering t-shirts and jackets are essential items. Looking to purchase new gear for your running club or perhaps for your charity supporters? One idea is this fleece-lined softshell cycling jacket, which is perfect for winter training – it’s waterproof, windproof and will help regulate your body temperature by keeping you warm yet breathable.
For more ideas, Runner’s World has a helpful review of some of the top winter running gear it tested. At a minimum, make sure you wear a thin pair of gloves as your fingers will be the first thing to get cold!
All set on gear? Consider motivational training accessories like water bottles or wristbands as the perfect stocking stuffers for your active friends, co-workers and supporters.
So, during the festive season, don’t let your training take a holiday. Get up early, set a routine, find a partner, try something new and stay warm and dry while you do it. You’ll be back in tip-top training shape before you know it.
What other tips do you employ to keep it up over the holidays? We’d love to hear! Please get in touch with us today and we’ll see you out there.