Don’t let your fitness go sideways during the holiday season!
Every year, the last week of December represents something of an invisible cliff for even the most active person, and for the next few days or so, our fitness falls at a fast pace amid an influx of holiday parties and social gatherings until it’s time to make a resolution to start working out again at the turn of the year. But what if you resolved right now to not let yourself get to that point between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day? Here are nine top tips for maintaining a strong baseline level of fitness through the new year—all you need is the desire to keep fit and 30 to 60 minutes a day.
1. Set process goals.
As athletes, it’s natural to set big outcome goals for ourselves(lose weight, set a personal best, qualify for Boston, etc.);the trouble with this is the end result is largely out of our control. The holiday season is a great time of year to focus on process goals—smaller, actionable items you can check off your list daily that will help bring you closer to your outcome goals. Examples include: workout for 30 minutes daily, do 10pushups every morning, get to bed by 10 every night, lift weights twice a week … the list continues. Focus on executing your process goals this holiday season, and chances are you’ll be happy with the end result.
2. Grab a buddy.
The holidays are a great time to catch up with out-of-town friends who might be home visiting their own families for a few days. What better way to make the most of your time together than by going fora run? Or pushing one another through a tough strength training workout? Not only can you catch up on a lot of things over the course of 30to 60 minutes, but you’ll also be doing something good for yourselves too.
3. Establish a routine.
Running around to holiday parties,visiting friends and traveling to see family can make it easy to fall out of rhythm, but establishing a consistent weekly routine to follow can help keep you on track a mid the chaos. Assign a specific focus to each day of the week—even the rest days—and carve out30 to 60 minutes to run or workout at the same time every day.No exceptions, no excuses.
4. Crank up the intensity once a week.
Sticking to a schedule of highly structured speed workouts can be tough at the end of the year, and many runners use that as an excuse to only log easy miles until spring rolls back around. Winter running doesn’t have to be all slow and boring, however. Once a week, crank up the intensity of one of your running workouts with a short, fast interval session on the roads or a progression run on the treadmill. Not only will these types of workouts break up the monotony of running easy all the time, but they will also give your fitness level a quick boost and set you up to start the new year off in better shape than ever before.
5. Plan ahead.
Traveling to visit family or friends and not sure when you’ll be able to run or work out? Do your research ahead of time and scope out popular running routes where you’ll be heading, or confirm that your hotel or host family has a treadmill or workout area you can take advantage of for 30 to 60 minutes a day. Let those you’re visiting (or that are visiting you) know ahead of time you’re planning to work out—heck, even encourage them to join you! If you announce your intentions ahead of time, it will create the time and space you need, but it will also create an added level of accountability to actually get off the couch!
6. Avoid temptation.
It’s easy to get carried away at a loaded buffet table, which is why it’s important to know what you’re in for and plan ahead prior to holiday happy hours, Thanksgiving dinner and the like. Avoid the temptation to overdo it when the options in front of you are aplenty. While it’s OK to allow yourself to splurge on drinks and dessert every once in a while, don’t allow it to become a regular habit. Going to two parties on the same night? Eat dinner at the first and save room for dessert at the next. Finding a healthy balance is the easiest way to sidestep the lure of holiday food.
7. Adopt an at-home, strength-training circuit.
Spending the money to join a gym toward the end of the year isn’t always a reasonable investment, but there’s no reason to dismiss a once- or twice-a-week routine of functional strength and mobility exercises that will help improve strength, burn fat and ward off injuries. (Check out Competitor On Demand for a series of instructional how-to strength training and stretching videos you can use to create your own routine at home. No gym—or even weights—required!)
With the exception of your annual turkey trot or other festive events, the holiday season is usually a slow time for racing, which can be a welcome relief between a busy fall season and the upcoming spring campaign. Want to remain active and fit but just not feeling up for a run? No problem. Thirty to 60 minutes of aerobic non running activity, such as swimming, a spin class or boot camp, can be a great way to replace a handful of your running miles during the off-season and give your body and mind a break from pounding the pavement.
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9. Go easy on the alcohol.
Catching up with friends over a cold pint or sharing a bottle of wine with family from out of town is a fun way to celebrate the season, but excessively imbibing over a short period of time is one of the main reasons people pack on unwanted pounds. Limit yourself to one drink at holiday gatherings and have your next day’s workout in mind before the revelry begins.