by Brian Maslach
While the general population resigns themselves to losing fitness and gaining fat during the holiday season, there’s no reason those of us who value physical performance can’t employ a bit of creativity to continue the quest for improvement despite family commitments, travel, and everything else that goes with the holidays.
Most of us don't get a lot of opportunity to do this during the holidays.
If you’re lucky enough to be able to maintain your normal training schedule, keep it up. And if you're one oof those lucky souls who can ride your bike a hundred miles a day between Christmas and New Years, I'm jealous. The rest of us need to get creative to allow take advantage of compromised schedules. Instead of viewing the situation negatively, look at it as an opportunity to inject variety and/or intensity, or to address a nagging structural weakness. Being an endurance athlete doesn't mean you need long, drawn-out training sessions year around for progression.
For example, if you're a cyclist who rarely trains off the bike, throwing in a few short runs can allow you to get a great workout in much less time than you’d spend on the bike; likewise, with swimming, if you have access to a pool or other suitable body of water.
Introduce Intensity and Intervals
Perhaps you want to stick with your primary training mode, but could use a bit of offseason intensity work. A few short interval sessions can have a big effect while still keeping things fresh. Something as simple, and painful, as a couple VO2 workouts can improve fitness despite limited training time.
This evil device can be a good great option for time-crunched cyclists.
Maybe you want to improve flexibility and have been itching to try yoga, or want to improve upper body or core strength with calisthenics. Well, this is your chance. Take advantage of it.
Stay Fresh with Less Stress
The elite athletes I’ve been lucky enough to train with understand that it’s important to keep mentally fresh during the offseason. There’s no use stressing about maintaining your normal training routine when the rest of your life dictates a change. You might as well accept the opportunity to make a positive, temporary change while enjoying the holiday season.
What do you do to keep your training up during the holidays? I'd love to hear what works for you. Please let me know in the comments.
Got snow? Put it to good use!