3 Ways to Stay on Track During the Holidays

stay on track

Image by Derek Sears via UnSplash

This time of year, life has the tendency to get a bit more hectic than usual.

If you don’t have a race looming on the horizon, and even if you do, it can be easy to let your running go.

Once life returns to its usual level of hectic in January, you’ll be able to get back into your routine and add running back to the mix.

I’ll be honest: I’ve done this exact thing before. More than once.

There are lots of reasons: travel, family, too many pieces of my mother-in-law’s fudge, and too many glasses of eggnog. Regardless of the cause, I’ve let my running and my regular diet go in past Decembers.

In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a big deal. Taking a couple of weeks off and indulging isn’t going to undo all the progress that you’ve made over first 11.5 months of the year.

But I’d be lying if I told you the first couple of weeks of January were fun, getting my fitness back to where it was in November.

Last year, thankfully, was different.

I wasn’t militant about training or diet around the holidays, but I was able to stay on track with my fitness and therefore didn’t have to play catch up in January.

Three Ways to Stay on Track Through the New Year

Honestly, it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be.

All it took were a few simple changes in perspective to maintain my fitness last year, and, hopefully, they will do the same for you this year!

Remember That Some is Always Better Than None

As runners, we tend to be a little Type A. Am I right?

That means if our training plan says we need to do a 10-mile run then, by God, we are going to do a 10-mile run!

In a perfect world, yes. You’d get your 10 miles in before you head to the family for presents, turkey, and all the sugar cookies you can handle.

But this is not a perfect world, and you may only have time for 7 miles. Or 5 miles. Or 2 miles.

It’s easy for us Type A people to say, “Just forget it. If I can’t do what’s scheduled, what’s the use in doing anything.”

That’s a terrible way to look at the situation!

Something is always better than nothing, especially when the priority is simply to maintain your fitness through the end of the year.

So if that means doing a run that’s shorter than planned/scheduled, that’s fine!

And if that means no run at all, the question becomes, “What can you do instead?”

How about some yoga? A little stretching? Sledding with the nieces and nephews with an impromptu hill workout taxiing the little ones to the top of the hill a few times?

Get creative, but remember that something is always better than nothing this time of year.

Give Yourself the Gift of Grace

No matter how creative you are, and no matter how much you try, odds are you’ll miss a workout or three between now and the new year.

When that happens, don’t beat yourself up for it. Just accept it. Let it go. And get on with your day.

I know, easier said than done.

But what’s the alternative? Berating yourself for staying up too late, catching up with your siblings, and polishing off too many bottles of wine? How is that going to make the situation any better?

It’s not.

Give yourself grace and move forward.

Don’t Let Running Be a Stressor

If you try to be absolutely perfect with your training during the holidays, you are most likely adding more stress to what is already a stressful time of the year.

Use running as a tool during the holidays to help you burn stress, not create more of it!

Let running be your go-to method of self-care. Your quiet time. Your chance to get out of the craziness for a few precious minutes (or blessed hours) when you can.

Perfection is Not the Goal

When I’ve struggled to stay on track in the past, a big part of my struggle was the goal to be perfect with my training.

Come hell or high water, I was going to get my runs in!

And when things inevitably went off the rails and a run or few were missed, I just gave up completely.

Last year, I really changed my focus from being perfect to simply doing what I could.

Was I perfect? No! Not even close!

But because my aim wasn’t perfection, when I missed a run, it was easier to give myself grace and avoid stressing out. Instead, I simply moved on and did the best I could the next day.

And lo and behold, when January came, I got right back to my normal routine without the slightest dip in my fitness!

This holiday season, instead of aiming to be perfect, simply do the best you can do with your training.

Do that, and you’ll be ready to start the new year with a bang!

By Denny Krahe

Denny Krahe is a Certified Athletic Trainer and Running Coach specializing in helping runners prevent common running injuries and being able to run pain free. He is also the host of the "Diz Runs With..." podcast.