4 Training Tips for Navigating the Holiday Season
The holidays are upon us, and this time of year can be tough on an athlete’s training schedule. Besides the fact that we have to deal with short daylight hours, we also have to deal with travel, family commitments, and gatherings that present an abundance of food and drink. I’m going to share some of the tips that I give my athletes to help them get through the holidays with minimal negative impact on their training.
Tip #1: Try to go no more than 2 days in a row without getting SOME form of exercise. Bike racers to love to ride and many are practically addicted to exercise. You may not be able to get in your normal training when you are traveling, but you’ll feel better if you do something…anything. Run, walk, swim, go to the gym, just be active. The change in your routine might even be good for you. I personally just did a weeklong vacation in Mexico with no riding. But I got out on an SUP, hiked, and surfed for my exercise.
Tip #2: Get in the intensity when you can’t get the time. Its ok to miss a day or 2 this time if year, just refer to tip #1. But let’s say you can’t that 4 hour ride this Saturday because the in-laws or coming over, or you are the one doing the visiting and you are stuck on the crappy gym bike. What should you do? Hammer! When you can’t get in the time, get in the intensity. I tell all of my athletes that when they are pressed for time or have to cut a workout short, the main goal is to get in the interval portions of the workout. Skip the long warmup and cool down and the mellow riding in between. Just ensure you do the meat of the workout.
Tip #3 Plan ahead. We all need rest weeks occasionally. With most of my masters athletes, we typically plan their rest weeks and days around their “real world” commitments. This works much better than a rigid 3 weeks on 1 off schedule, and helps the athlete lead a balanced life while still reaching their cycling goals. So tell your coach you are going to need a planned rest week, or give yourself some extra training load on the days before your holiday commitments. Then enjoy your well deserved rest.
Tip #4 Enjoy yourself and don’t stress over it. A few days, or even a week off the bike aren’t going to kill you. If there are any fitness losses at all, they should be minimal. Follow #3 and you may even be looking forward to a few days of rest. Enjoy your family, your friends, and the time away from work. If you get bored or need some personal space, see #2. Part of enjoying yourself is also enjoying a little bit of the holiday food and beverage you are going to find put in front of you. Have a little bit, just don‘t over indulge. Share a holiday treat with your significant other rather than having a whole serving yourself. Have one of your aunt’s famous cookies, just don’t have ten of them.
I hope these 4 tips can help you navigate through your holiday plans and make it easier for you to enjoy the festivities, while also maintaining a reasonable level of fitness. As long as you stay active during the holidays, make the most of your training time, and plan ahead, you’ll stay pretty fit through the new year. Its ok to enjoy an occasional holiday treat, and little extra time off the bike isn’t going to kill you.
Sean Burke is the head coach for Crank Cycling in San Diego CA