With the holiday season upon us advocating for your body will be the ‘make or break’ for getting your training in. Learn why it is important to be the advocate for your body and get some tips from our Pro #SistersInSport on how to navigate the training during the holidays.
Workouts and races are often the easy part of being a good athlete. These elements are almost a celebration of fitness. And most active individuals are fairly educated and aware about proper preparation & recovery like proper nutrition & hydration, quality sleep, body maintenance like foam rolling, stretching, massage, etc.
But in order to achieve your potential as an athlete you have to set yourself up to do so. And this means thinking about all those sneaky little situations that you might not consider because they’re not obvious. Achieving your potential means advocating for yourself as an athlete.
Consider these potential performance danger zones:
Scenario 1: Your mother is always super excited to see you when you visit, and she always means well, but sometimes that apple pie is not what you need for your upcoming race. Likewise, endless family get togethers don’t always help me get prepared for a competition. When home for the holidays, or just home for a visit, it can be hard to get workouts in and it can be hard to feel recovered and energetic about running.
Scenario 2: Your (non-running) friends aren’t aware if you have to get a long run in before meeting them out. It’s your job as an athlete to make sure you get quality food after your so you’re not starving for hours on end while the group decides where to eat.
Scenario 3: If you had a stressful work situation and came home fuming, it’s your job as an athlete not to hammer that run because you’re angry – your body still needs its recovery run days and it’s your job to make sure it gets what it needs and save the hard efforts for the hard days.
This is not to say that as an athlete you become a rigid, no-fun, locked up, hermit of yourself. I believe a happy athlete is the best athlete. But this IS to say that if you’re asking your body to perform at a high level on a regular basis, then it’s your responsibility to make sure it is set up to do so.
It might mean moving some workouts around when you go home so you can enjoy family outings. Maybe it means changing some workouts to being effort based rather than trying to hit aggressive times for track workouts.
It might also mean asking your friends to be patient while you stop and get a snack every hour while when out shopping all day…And it might mean getting a run in before work if you know the day’s going to be crazy.
It might mean asking for help.
Or it might mean going to Yoga instead of going for a run after a confrontational situation (nothing like those flight or fight adrenaline rushes to turn your easy run into a tempo run…)
It always means doing what you need to do for a run – regardless of what other people are doing, regardless of what you wish you could do, regardless of what other people think you should do.
Your main job as an athlete is not only to perform better.
It is to protect your ability to do so.
Being an athlete means being your body’s advocate.
SistersInSport Tips for Training Through the Holidays:
"I give myself a few 'treat days' over the holidays where I can really enjoy myself without having any guilt. I pick 2 or 3 days (always Christmas Day!) where I get a single run done early in the morning, and then I don't think about running at all for the rest of the day. I'll eat and drink whatever I want and really make the most to spending time with friends/family. If I have those 'treat' days to look forward to over the holiday period then I don't find it difficult to keep on track and focused for the rest of the time."
“Training around the holidays is always tricky, but if you can designate a time each day to get out and get your training in, it will help you with a little structure. Also, if you can recruit some family members to go for a walk or head to the park with the kiddos while you are training, everyone is out at the same time and everyone is benefiting! Lastly, don't stress if you have to abbreviate some of your training. A little exercise is better than none at all! “
“Protect the mornings! There's always a talk about schedules at the beginning of the family vacation time. I make it clear from the get go that I'll be getting in a workout in the mornings, and I ask what time I should aim to be done by to be back to enjoy the family activities. My family is happy to give me that time, and I go in willing to make adjustments to my dream plan for the sake of the group. A few runs might need to be shorter to compromise now and then, but at least I get one in before the food coma hits! Then I can just enjoy the rest of the day. Doubles rarely happen at the holidays...I consider them a bonus.”
“One year I was in the midst of 100-mile weeks when Thanksgiving week came around. I was scheduled to do two runs on Thursday (Thanksgiving Day) - 10 in the morning and 8 in the evening, just like I did each Thursday when I was hitting 100 miles. Obviously, this was going to be difficult with both the family turkey dinner planned as well as tickets to the Kansas City Chiefs game that evening. I chose to run all 18 at once, early in the morning, tiptoeing around ice patches, so I could come home and help with the meal prep. Needless to say, I was exhausted the entire day. I had been feeling great up until that point but after that weekend my training took a downturn and I never rebounded for the track season that year. Sound extreme? It's exactly what happened. I pushed myself over the edge and didn't realize it until about 6 months later.
If I could do it over I would choose: 100% training OR the holiday. If you throw something extra in your week when you are already training "on the edge" don't expect to have the same results! I should have either skipped Thanksgiving altogether (which I don't recommend because family makes one happy and happy, balanced athletes are more successful) or modified my mileage for the day to account for the fact that it wasn't just a regular Thursday where I could focus 100% on training.”
Be more of a taste tester than a gorger. For instance, you see.... Potato salad, Macaroni and cheese, tuna salad, mashed potatoes, stuffing (my mouth is watering), then you see.... ham, and of course that beautiful stuffed turkey. To top it off on the dessert table it seems like 'Mr. Spoil Your Hard Work' himself has come to bury you in a world of mouth watering insanity.