The holiday season can be a happy one full of family, friends, and fun — but it can also be tough for some of us. When folks get stressed, they might neglect their runs, which leads to more stress, and the cycle goes on. Here are some tips for maintaining consistent, happy runs through the holidays.
Keeping up with holiday duties while also juggling work, school, or a running regimen can be pretty stressful. Which makes maintaining your running workouts during the holidays even more important, even if it's just as a stress-management tool. To help you keep up the good habits and avoid seasonal stress, we've collected five tips for maintaining your running workouts during the holidays.
1. Plan ahead
As a runner, you likely have a fairly well-established routine. The trick during the holidays, though, is to adjust the schedule as various events arise. Personally, my schedule changes from week to week regardless of the time of year. So, every Sunday evening, I write out my plan for the week and decide on the best times to squeeze in my workouts.
Having a clear, written plan for the week that includes your workouts — along with all of your other activities — makes it much easier to develop and stick to your routine. In my case, that schedule is on an enormous whiteboard in my office that is directly in my line of sight while I write this.
2. Focus on maintenance
Since the holiday season is likely to pull you in multiple directions, you might need to change your approach to running as a whole. Generally speaking, we runners are a goal-oriented bunch — it can be discouraging when we feel like we aren't making progress. There is definitely something to be said for maintenance, however, especially during particularly busy times in your life.
Rather than trying to make progress in your runs throughout the holiday season, which could leave you frustrated and discouraged, now is a perfect time to relax into maintenance mode. Three weekly runs of 20 to 30 minutes each can keep you at your current level of fitness throughout the turbulent holidays without causing you extra stress.
3. Find a race
Thanks to the cooler weather and frequent time off, the holiday season is full of all sorts of running events. A quick internet search along the lines of "races near ----" is a perfect place to start. Remember, though, don't pick a race that's beyond your current level of fitness. Having a fun 5K on your schedule can be a powerful motivation to stick to your running workouts during the holidays.
4. Make it social
Another benefit of finding a race has to do with the power of social ties. Running groups — whether formal or informal — can not only make your runs more fun, but also add a healthy dose of accountability to your workouts. You are much more likely to stick to a plan if other people are cheering you on.
In some areas, you may be able to find running groups. Or, you can just recruit some of your friends or visiting family to join you on your runs. This works especially well if you can get some of those running buddies, in-laws, or cousins to sign up for a holiday race with you.
5. Be flexible
Remember that your plans can always change. The holidays can bring last-minute surprises, so be flexible and expect to have to make adjustments in your routine. If you're only focused on maintenance and getting in those few short runs a week, though, it won't be hard to shift things around in your schedule as the need arises.
While the holiday season offers a lot to look forward to, it can be a bit intimidating for runners. By adjusting your thinking a little and setting some realistic goals, it's possible to enjoy the extra time with family and friends while also maintaining your running workouts during the holidays.
Our writer's advice is intended for informational or general educational purposes only. We always encourage you to speak with your physician or healthcare provider before making any adjustments to your running, nutrition, or fitness routines.