Ask any runner what they think is the hardest time to run and you can safely wager that the winter holiday season will be one of the top answers. And it’s true. From the cold weather, the shorter days, shopping traveling and grandma’s famous 30-layer salad, the holidays bring on a veritable onslaught of distractions to keep our running kicks in the closet. And, honestly, that’s not always a bad thing; some runners use the time to take a break and let their bodies take a breather from the miles. But, what if you’re like me and have races at the beginning of the year and need the holiday time to get in some serious mileage? Here are some tips on how to make sure you can get in your training, as well as enjoy all the holidays have to offer.
First recommendation: Let running be your opportunity to excuse yourself from the inevitable tense conservation that will surface when extended family gathers for the holidays. Whether it’s grandma hassling you about kids, mom giving you a hard time about a finding a suitable mate, or that overly vocal uncle who thinks Politician X has some “really great ideas,” just politely say, “Excuse me, it’s time for my run.” Your family will quickly shift from nosey needling to beaming with pride at your dedication to getting in shape, while you can work your way out of those awkward instances you’re just dying to avoid. My personal view is one mile per family member; it’s a pretty easy way to get in those miles and not have to explain to dad again how freelance writing is a career.
The second recommendation is a little more motivating than ducking uncomfortable family conversations.This tip is more about satisfying your inner ego, in addition to giving your body the vigorous workout it so richly deserves. As I’ve already eluded to earlier, running over the holidays is incredibly difficult. So, instead of dreading the load of the holidays, embrace the challenge and use that as motivation to hit the road. The rush of running will make you feel like a champ as you tell yourself, “I knocked out holiday shopping, sent all of my cards, put up the tree, and now I’m putting in a quick three miles. I AM A BADASS!” Of course, make sure to high-five any snowmen you see out on your run.
Lastly, one more recommendation I will share, and has gotten me through many a stressful holiday season, is to be the family-running motivator. Grab those family members who may need a run and help them get out the door. Maybe, go for an easy jog or even better, create a family 5k with faux medals for all the participants. Who knows, maybe you’ll be the catalyst to family members becoming runners.
The holiday season is full of emotion, but it can also be chock full of motivation-for both you and your family. It’s hard not to focus on all the distractions, but if you find the right moments and keep a positive attitude that running over the holiday season is doable, you’ll find yourself out the door more than you think.
Happy Holidays and Happy Running