The holiday season can take a serious toll on your running habit if you’re not careful. It’s the most common time for everyone to lose track of their fitness routine, and it can be especially difficult for runners – dodging social commitments, food overload and bad weather. But there’s good news: it is possible to get into the habit of running throughout the holidays – you just have to be a little flexible. Here are our top 6 tips to keep up with your running over the holidays.
- Commit to not punishing yourself. No matter how hard you try, there will be days when you’ll skip a run. Roll with the punches here and don’t be too hard on yourself. The more you stress over missing a run, the less time you’re spending preparing for your next workout. Stay flexible this season and just focus on the next run.
- Plan ahead as much as you possibly can. Before things get too hectic, make a note of all the social obligations you have coming up: family gatherings, work events, kids’ school parties and any other days you’ll have to spend preparing for or recovering from these events. Then schedule runs around them. Plan for downtime too – don’t pack your free days with workouts or you’re setting yourself up for failure. Expect to run less than normal – aim for quality over quantity during this time of year.
- Spend this time maintaining rather than improving. Don’t set goals to increase speed or distance over the holidays. Save those plans for next year after the frenzy is over. Instead, maintain your current pace, and possibly even decrease your distance for now. This is the time just for practice – get the run in for the amount of time you have available and count that as a win till spring.
- Sign up for a low-stakes race to hold yourself accountable. If you’re worried you won’t be able to stick to your commitment to keep running, make it public. Find a fellow runner friend if possible, and enter a local 5K like a Turkey Trot or Christmas run so you have something specific you’re working toward. This can help you prioritize your goals without needing to train for a larger high-stakes marathon.
- Scout out running routes away from home. If you travel for the holidays, it can be particularly difficult to stick to your routine. Before you leave, use Google Maps to plot out your run in your new location. Ask friends or family about sidewalk conditions and traffic to help you make your plan. Having this intention already set can help you stick to it when you arrive at your destination. Don’t forget to pack your running shoes, insoles and other essentials – use this packing guide as a checklist.
- Don’t forget indoor options. Though not as ideal, there’s always the gym when the weather threatens to ruin your winter running routine. The time you’ve carved out for your workout is important, and you can’t let snow or ice derail you. Head to the gym and do some laps around the track or on the treadmill – you’ll still feel like you accomplished something and it will help keep you in shape.
Remember to stay in the moment this holiday season and enjoy your time with family and friends while trying not to stress too much about your fitness routine. When the hectic part of the year is over, you’re always able to return to your full runs and build your stamina back up.