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For many runners, the peak fall racing season is over and the time has come to relax, enjoy some fun, easy miles and get into holiday mode.
However, this is not the case for runners that have late November through early January goal races on their calendars. How do we get through the holiday season (filled with weekly cocktail parties, treats and major excess) and still be ready to race?
First, take a breath–you can do this. You can still enjoy the holidays and be prepared to kick butt at your upcoming race (without feeling like a stuffed turkey!). Here are a few tips to help get you through the busy season:
1. Have Fun–But Don’t Go Crazy
Thanksgiving weekend (as well as Christmas, Hanukkah and New Years) is filled with food, family and fun. By no means should you deprive yourself, but you also don’t need TWO pieces of pumpkin pie and a slice of cake. Pick one, eat slowly and savor the taste. Another tip: limit going back for seconds and thirds of heaping plates of food. One plate with one serving of each type of food is plenty.
You’ll also want to drink tons of water. Hydration is key and will fill you up so that you don’t feel a need to overeat. Limit your alcohol intake to one drink–you don’t want to wake up for your long run with a holiday hangover.
2. Maintain Your Running Schedule
Holidays are a crazy busy time and you may have to move your runs around a bit to accommodate all of your commitments. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get up at 5 a.m. after a long evening of entertaining. If it works for you to sleep in until 6 a.m. or 7 a.m., do it. Do what works best for your body–that also means that, if you have a day off from work and can fit in an afternoon run, that’s okay, too. Just get it in when you can. Remember, you are still training!
3. Don’t Forget To Sleep
Yes, everyone around you is in party mode, but you’ve been working hard all fall season for a goal race, so resist the temptation to stay up late every night. Your body needs sleep to repair and get ready for another day of training.
4. If You’re Tapering For Your Goal Race…
Remember that your mileage has gone way down. Enjoy the good protein and carbs, but be smart about consuming too many treats. Maybe you can enjoy the eggnog after the race–or just have a quarter- or half-cup instead of a huge mug.
5. Recruit Family And Friends
If you have an easy, lower mileage day on tap, this is the perfect time to ask someone to join you for a run. You get to spend quality time with loved ones you haven’t seen in a while, and you both get to move your bodies. Lying on the couch to watch the game afterwards will feel much more rewarding.
The holidays are officially here, and you absolutely can enjoy them and emerge happy, fulfilled and race ready.
Happy running, friends!