Maybe you are already looking forward to Christmas. A week off with family and friends to kick back and indulge a little. There’s no problem with this, but do you want your hard gotten gains to fall away and to be struggling at the start of January?
Here are some ideas to use over the Christmas period to try and mitigate this.
First things first. Either make it a holiday or don’t. I recently went skiing with a friend who was training for a marathon. They asked if they should take their trainers. I told them not to. I said – if you take your stuff and don’t really intend to go training, you’ll just feel guilty. The same is true over the Christmas break. Don’t take your stuff with you, if you don’t intend to train. If you do take it, you are then likely to beat yourself up about not training. If you’re in good shape and don’t go too crazy with the booze and the festive food, you’ll be ok for 7 days.
Plan a Christmas race – To help to keep you focused in the build-up to Christmas, book yourself a race over the festive period. There are plenty of races during this time. Take a look at the Runners World website adding your location for a list of local runs.
Run with friends – I have spoken many times about the benefits of running with others and the accountability it creates. Try and get a family member or friend involved. If they don’t want to run, maybe that can cycle next to you to keep you company. Look up your local running club and join them for a run or two. Go and do your local parkrun.
Go early – if you are struggling to fit a run in, go out early to avoid missing any family engagements. A lot of the time during Christmas you are just hanging around and tend to get in the way. If you have a couple of hours, until lunch or dinner, give Top of the Pops or EastEnders a miss and get a run in. There is nothing that makes you feel more like a serious runner than running on Christmas Day!
Challenge a friend – a friend of mine did this to me last Christmas. He challenged me via Garmin Connect to see who ran the furthest over 7 days. It worked! If one morning I was wavering whether I should go for a run, the thought that my friend may be going for a run (even though we were in different countries) was enough to get me out the door. Give it a go. It really works.
HITT it – If you can’t go for a run or a ride, squeeze a HITT (High-Intensity Interval Training) in. In case you have been on another planet for some time, HITT is short bursts of hard work/exercise, followed by periods of rest. This could be 30 seconds of exercise followed by 30 seconds of rest. Therefore, 5 set of 3 exercises or 3 sets of 5 exercises only takes 15 minutes. HITT also works both your aerobic and anaerobic systems.
Focus on something else – sometimes when I’m away from home and have some time (ie. not at home running around doing a million jobs). I focus on something I don’t dedicate enough attention to, for example stretching, which I can give a good 15 minutes to.
Go for a walk – If you can’t run or exercise. Go for a walk. It’s a pretty standard Christmas time thing to do, but maybe stretch it out further than the pub and back.
Don’t double down – The salted peanuts and the crisps come out at 1 pm and you have a couple of handfuls. Your brother in law offers you a beer. 30 minutes later you’re on your second beer and the canapés arrive. You think – hey the eating/drinking plan just went out the window, screw it, let’s ruin the canapés and then wade into the 2 portions of roast turkey.
The point is, just because you slipped once, don’t let it be the reason to let yourself slip again. Try and have some control. Leave the nuts, or leave the canapés or have a little of each. Don’t let a slight slip turn into a full-face plant that you‘re likely to regret. Don’t back up one bad decision with another.
Do the cooking yourself – If the brown food groups keep coming and you want to take a bit of a break, offer to cook on one or two nights. Show your family one of your healthy, nutritious, fancy recipes.
Take it with you – If you like a green smoothie in the morning and your parents don’t. Take your blender with you. Something like a Nutribullet is definitely transportable. Unlikely to get your chia seeds and raw ginger at home? Take it with you. In fact, take all required ingredients with you and get the ‘rentals involved too.
Don’t hit it too early – easier said than done if you have a big family, but holding off on the booze for and an extra hour is likely to be 2 fewer drinks that day/evening. There is also the knock-on effect that you are less likely to not go running the following day.
Have a get out plan – if you are going somewhere and the likelihood is you’ll have a drink, go to wherever you are going with a plan of escape. It sounds a bit harsh but could save you a hangover. Let whomever you are visiting know that you have some other things to do and make it clear what time you are leaving. Or just drive and have a beer when you get home.
Drink water – if you are going to have a few drinks, drink as much water as you can between drinks. It really does help no end. I find drinking fizzy water really helps, as my easily tricked brain thinks its drinking a fizzy lager.
Remember how you’ll feel in morning – it’s very easy to get carried away with family and friends you haven’t seen for a while and when you go back to your old haunts. Just the one drink, after another! Think of what you want to do in the morning and with your time the following day. Bear it in mine and try to drink a little less.
A little bit of indulgence and a few drinks are not going to scupper a training plan or break the scales. Just keep in mind your goals and what it is you want to achieve and how you can use your Christmas break to help you achieve them.