How to Fit Miles in During the Holiday Madness
Every year, like clockwork it seems that we’re floating through fall, then overnight the calendar is not only full, but bursting at the seams. There is travel on the calendar, kids are out of school, there are all kinds of parties, and there are the actual holidays themselves. And on top of that, there is the normal day to day activities that have to get done all while shopping for gifts or planning get-togethers. (Let’s not even mention the massive caloric intake of food that comes with this time of year.)
With the stress that the holiday season brings, getting a run in is even more important now than ever. But with everything going on in your busy schedule, when are you going to be able to log those much wanted (and needed) miles?
Sign up for a Race
Turkey Trot anyone? How about a Rudolph Run? Depending on your holiday plans, decide whether it is better to sign up for a race in the middle of or right after the holiday season is over. Having a race on the calendar will motivate you to continue to train. Also, having paid for something can be a huge motivator to not only train but also not back out of the race, no matter how busy you are. Even the non-runners in your life will understand not wanting to waste an entry fee.
Add and Subtract
It may sound counterproductive but going on shorter runs but more frequent runs throughout the week may alleviate some stress. Trying to find a chunk of time for a 10 miler might seem impossible. But a speedy 4- 5 miler could be the time ticket. Do you usually drive across town to the gym to get your run in? If it is physically possible, meaning there isn’t a few feet of snow or the ground isn’t covered in ice, suck it up and run outside. Another idea is to squeeze in a short run after you cleaned the house but before you shower.
Often as runners we add pomp and circumstance to runs. Sure, we need that during heavy training. But we’re fighting to keep our head above the holidays here. This is not the time to expect perfection in distance, location, attire or weather.
Usually, your running partner is the one that holds you accountable. But when it comes to the holidays and your running buddy isn’t available, anyone who can hold you accountable will do. Logging four slower (much slower) miles with your sister-in-law beats no run at all. Or consider enlisting the younger family members to join you for a run. Got a teenage boy around the house? Trying to keep up with him for even two miles might be one of the best workouts you get all year. Or for the younger kiddos, offer to take them to the park. Not only can you run after them on their bikes, you might be able to convince them to play a quick paced game that’ll give you a speed workout or at minimum a mini HIIT session.
Most successful runners view their runs like brushing their teeth. It’s something done every single day and at a set time. Even with the madness of the holidays, try not to change that. After all, we still shower, we still sleep, and we should still run. Think about it, even Santa takes care of himself and stops for cookies at every house.
Something does have to give eventually to make room for the festivities. So maybe the run is a little earlier than you’d like or maybe you get behind on your Netflix. (And you never know. All those missed episodes may be needed when you end up having to log a few long runs on a treadmill in January due to bad weather. )
Don’t Expect Sympathy
Do not expect most people, meaning non-runners, to understand your dilemma. In the season where almost everyone is gaining weight, those disciplined few who are able to continue to stay physically active may get a little bit of the evil eye. Some people might even make a comment or two in order to make you feel guilty.
If you are not missing your 99 year old grandmother’s potential last Thanksgiving or missing your niece’s first encounter with Santa, shrug off any feedback you get that isn’t positive. No reason to hide that your going out the door for a run but maybe you slip out a little more quietly than normal.
There are a couple of good mantras for the two months between Halloween and New Year’s: Every little bit helps and Run to burn off the crazy. A run or two will get skipped and that’s ok if you missed it to pick up Aunt Edna at the airport. Don’t stress about not getting the miles in if you are going to miss something, But don’t miss an opportunity to wedge a few miles in here or there. Because you probably know, it will help readjust that holiday attitude to a less stressful and more jolly one.