RUN through the Holidays!


There’s nothing like sore abs from yesterday’s sit-ups to make you think twice about apple pie and ice cream. I like to think of sore muscles as progress, but progress is usually hard to come by during the holidays. It’s not like our bodies lie down in a motionless revolt. No, it’s the mind that betrays us.

If you’ve planned your schedule to allow for a 2-week Rest&Recovery session through the holidays, you may be the smartest runner of the year. My only scheduled rest break was immediately following the last marathon, which has already come and gone. That leaves at least some of us figuring out how to shop, entertain, and enjoy the holidays without losing one ounce of fitness.

Lots of folks write about exercising through the Season – intending to keep us motivated to hang in there with our tough training regimen. And if you’re halfway through a marathon training schedule, you probably have no choice but to keep at it.

If your racing schedule is similar to mine, however, you find yourself with holiday-related training options.

Our family makes yearly rotations through parents, grandparents, and in-laws so that some years we have the holidays – and our training schedule – all to ourselves. These quiet, mellow holidays are not the problem. It’s when the dance card fills up that things go a little haywire.

Here’s a few practical thoughts for coping that have worked for me over the years:

1. Job Share: when the house is full of guests, my husband and I take turns working out. While he mingles with company, I exercise and vice versa. Somehow it lessens the guilt of leaving your guests for a workout when your partner is there in your absence.

2. Keep it Simple: at the risk of repeating myself too often. . . one stressor at a time. If you’re going 90-to-nothing, pillar to post every day, keep holiday workouts easy. It’s the best injury prevention and the only way to avoid a Crash&Burn.

3. Cut back: even though I’m following a 6 day/week running schedule at the moment, last season’s 4 day/week training proved there’s no set rule, and lots of runners train just 3 days each week. It’s best not to miss more than 2 consecutive days, but if you drop back from your usual schedule to just 3 days of running through the holidays, you won’t lose fitness.

If you have the energy, ratchet up the intensity to offset the reduced mileage, or if you have the time, increase distance for those 3 days to maintain the same weekly mileage.

If a serious cut-back is required, remember that a brisk 10-minute walk three times through the day can reduce blood pressure, and burn calories. It always feels better than you expect to walk around the neighborhood after dinner with the family.

4. Let it go. Sometimes the only thing to do is hang up the running shoes until after the holidays. Somehow we always survive.

I would make the suggestion to also forego dessert, but my husband would say I have surely lost my mind. Happy Holidays.



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