Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Running Through the Holidays
By Susan S. Paul, MS
Track Shack Fitness Club Program Director
The holiday season is upon us and while we look forward to this very special time of year, it can also be very stressful. Parties, late nights, travel, family, community and social obligations, on top of an already very busy schedule, produce stress. Disruption to our normal routine also creates stress. At a time when we need our running the most to deal with this increased stress, we have little time available due to the extra demands of the holidays, so what’s a runner to do?
Some runners feel pressure to give up their training through the holidays and wait until after the New Year to resume running when life calms down. However, beginning with Thanksgiving, the Holiday Season extends into January, giving us almost two months of celebration. If you give up training for this period of time, you could easily lose as much as 30% of your cardiovascular fitness. And, if that wasn’t bad enough, sacrificing your training routine can result in even more stress! Exercise serves as a healthy stress outlet. In addition to training issues, the holidays also mean late nights with excess food and alcohol. It’s no wonder the average person gains 5 pounds between Thanksgiving and the New Year! So, how can we enjoy the season without blowing a year’s worth of training? Here are some tips to help you survive the holidays with your running, waistline, and sanity intact! Enjoy!
TEN HOLIDAY FITNESS TIPS:
1. Keep running a priority. It creates more stress if you drop it completely.
2. Schedule your runs or workouts in advance. Look at your upcoming week and write in your runs.
3. Maintain your fitness. Focus on maintaining your fitness rather than improving it through
this busy time of the year. This will help reduce your stress level by relieving some pressure on you. By running three days a week, you can maintain your current fitness level, relieve stress, and have time to meet holiday obligations.
4. Some running is better than no running at all! Don’t skip a run, even if you have to cut it short. If you only have time for a short run, warm up and then increase the pace. By increasing the intensity, you increase the effectiveness of the workout. Something is better than nothing.
5. Be flexible! Run at different times of day, if necessary. Or, suggest attending an exercise class together rather than meeting for drinks and dinner.
6. Drink lots of water. Aim for a gallon a day. In social settings, drink two glasses of water for every alcoholic beverage. Example: one glass of wine followed by two glasses of water.
7. Eat before going to the party. Try a protein snack like a cup of Greek yogurt, deli turkey, or a protein shake.
8. Exercise portion control. This is much easier to do if you eat before going to the party! Holiday foods are delicious, but usually very fattening; eat them in small amounts.
9. Offer to bring something to the party or the office. Bring a healthy food or snack that you will enjoy eating; others will appreciate it too!
10. Stay Motivated! Rather than get discouraged or overwhelmed, keep motivated through the holidays by registering for a race or a training program after the first of the year. Having a goal will help keep you on track through the season. Look at Track Shack’s website for information on upcoming races and training programs.
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