Subtitle: Don’t give up because it’s cold and dark out, and you just ate a batch of sugar cookie dough washed down with some egg nog and a turkey sandwich with stuffing topped off with one of those nice little date cookies… well, you get the picture.
Sticking to your running schedule during the holidays can be rough, to say the least. Many of you live in climates that offer nothing but hostility from October through spring. To add to your bad weather concerns and usual commitments, family often have higher expectations during the winter holidays regarding your attention and time.
Don’t get me wrong: spending time with family, cooking and eating special meals together and participating in shared activities are all priceless aspects of the season. But if you are able to find a balance between family time and running, I guarantee that both you and they will come out on the other side happier, healthier, and less stressed (although they may be hard to convince).
Sticking to your schedule during the holidays is easier said than done, but I hope the tips below can help you stay firm (pun intended).
* Plan two races, one during the holidays and one in January. The holiday race (Turkey Trot, New Year’s Eve 5K, December charity run) will help you stick to goals during the season. More importantly, non-runners tend to be much more generous regarding your demanding training schedule if they know you have an end goal and you aren’t just training for the heck of it. If you have a race planned, if you have set a special running resolution or goal for the New Year, or if you are doing a charity run, critics of your training will seem selfish. The second race you have planned will help you remain focused after your holiday race is over. You will be less likely to wallow in holiday indulgence, overeat or otherwise overextend yourself if you have a Half Marathon, for instance, planned for mid-January.
* Convince the peanut gallery that both you and they will be better off if you’re allowed some time to train during the holidays. This will not be easy, and trust me, non-runners may not understand what running means to you. Remind them how proud you were last time you crossed the finish line, and how you become less stressed when you sneak in your run. When appropriate, invite family to join you.
* Plan ahead. Make a weekly schedule, and review it with your partner, your family and other important parties before things get too hectic. Point out the times you would like to run and the times you think you will need some help and support. Invite others along. Remind them that you are making some sacrifices in your training, and offer to pick up the slack as a trade-off to help your support group if they have an activity that will cut into holiday time.
* Make some sacrifices and balance your time. Obviously you should not run during Thanksgiving dinner or other special, planned holiday activities. You may have to get up at the crack of dawn or earlier to get in your run. Something may come up at the last minute for which you will have to cancel your run. Create your plan, but allow for some flexibility and spontaneity, and be aware that you will need to make some adjustments to your training schedule during this busy time of year.
Instead of getting defensive, be an inspiration! Maybe in a few years, you will have a whole team of family members joining you to witness the sun rising over a newfallen snow, squeezing in a half-time jog, or ringing in the New Year in a pair of spandex, champagne in hand for when you cross the finish line. The more the merrier!
Happy training, and happy holidays from New Life Running.