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Ah, the holiday season. It’s the most wonderful time of the year—so wonderful that many of us let our workouts go by the wayside in favor of all that wonderfulness. While that does make for a pretty fun couple of months, it will also leave you out of shape and in possession of a few extra pounds by January. So what’s a holiday-loving runner to do? Is it impossible to be fit and festive?? Bah humbug! Just follow these easy tips that will keep you on track from the first Halloween candy bar to the last glass of New Year’s champagne.
1. Make a date. With a race, that is. Find an event in January, sign up for it, and plan out the training you’ll need to stick with to be prepared. Knowing that you have a race looming will motivate you to skip that tenth office holiday happy hour and go running. But just in case you need a daily push, take a few minutes to write the specifics of each of your workouts into your calendar so you have a visual reminder of what you want to accomplish.
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2. Give a little, take a little. Let’s face it: When the holidays are in full swing, you have more than just the occasional party. With Thanksgiving reunions in your hometown, office celebrations, and family get-togethers, not to mention shopping for all the presents, a “low-key” week can have you tied up three or four nights. Sure, you can cut out an event here or there, but unless you plan to black out your social calendar entirely, you need a different game plan. On the days you do work out, up the ante a little bit—increase your mileage or add a few repeats to your hill workout. Giving a little bit more on the days you run maximizes your workout and allows you to take an extra day off for some fun.
3. Do what you love. Part of every good running routine includes regular cross-training, but when your social schedule is so busy that you’re barely reaching your mileage goals, it can seem like you’ll need a Christmas miracle to do an extra workout. So ditch anything that you normally dread and focus on something fun. If you hate lifting weights alone in the gym, take a bodyweight-focused group class; if you find yoga more boring than relaxing, try swimming meditative laps at the pool. Just pick something you enjoy and you’re ten times more likely to actually follow through.
4. Have your cake and eat some salad too. Don’t worry, no one is going to tell you not to indulge in your mom’s famous apple pie or stay up late enjoying your coworker’s signature holiday punch. But it’s hard to find the energy to run when you’re running on sugary carbs, so you do have to balance the good stuff with some of the good-for-you stuff. Making it a point to eat as clean as possible, drink lots of water, and get enough sleep the majority of the time will not only give you the fuel you need for your workouts, it will also make that sugar cookie taste even sweeter.
5. Rise and shine. So you’re probably not going to want to hear this, but some days you’re just going have to set that alarm an hour earlier. When you have to work, run an errand, bake a pie, and make an appearance at your pal’s cocktail party—all in the same day—your only option for working out is to wake up and run with the sunrise. If you’re not a morning person, try whatever tricks will light a fire under you; set the coffee maker the night before to entice you out of bed or ask (or beg) a friend to join you for an a.m. workout. Just be sure not to attempt that early run after a late night and you’ll be good to go. Happy running and happy holidays!