Training During The Holiday Season

by: Matt Dixon

During the holiday season, many athletes become stressed as their regular training routine gets thrown out of whack as a result of family commitments. To provide some perspective on the matter, I would like to make note of the following:

  • Most athletes will get sick 1-2 times each year and miss a week or two of valuable training.
  • Most athletes have 1-2 trips per year which remove them from quality training environments.
  • Most athletes have 1-2 weeks of poor training due to a niggle, work commitments, loss of motivation or some other life factor.
  • Cumulatively, most athletes can expect to write off 3-6 weeks of training as a result of circumstances that are often out of their own control. 

This is the norm, and we must fit these lower quality weeks into about a 48 week season (assuming a total of approximately 4 weeks of no structured training each season). Guess what? We expect and plan for this. This is the typical pattern for every level of athlete, so whatever you do, don't panic. Plan to enjoy time with your family.

Key Points During The Holiday Season

With this said, let's frame success over the holiday's (knowing family time isn't stress-free for everyone!). Here are the key points to embrace:

  • Rest: If you can get great sleep and some downtime from both work and training, this is a good thing. Closing off work, email and structure is a really powerful element of helping longer-term performance. I have yet to meet anyone important enough to have to avoid some time without a connection.
  • Run a 5K: Make it a family thing and make it fun. You have complete freedom to go wildly off-plan and go and run whatever your heart desires. Good for the soul, a fun hit out, and it gets you outside. It isn't a test, it should be fun. 
  • You won't miss the bike: Don't worry and don't chase around too many gyms with stationary bikes. Just don't ride. Instead, do feel-good sessions: Trail runs, fun sessions. Enjoy yourself.
  • Do the sessions you feel have the most bang for the buck: If you have pool access, complete technically focused sessions. A bike? Do the SE work. Running? Get outside on trails.
  • Re-start next week: We plan for it, we know it, it won't matter. Just get back to consistency next week.

And if you decide to skip the mashed potatoes and glass of wine because of your waistline I may show up on your doorstep looking to force-feed you like a foie gras goose. Some pumpkin pie is a part of this holiday, so embrace it. Just don't still be eating it on Nov 30th.

Have a lovely break and I hope that helps.