The holiday season is just around the corner. For cyclists, this time for over-indulgence usually means taking a break from your diet regimen and having less time for the bike.
To keep your body from heading toward the wastelands and ruining all the hard work you’ve put in and progress you’ve made during the year, follow these holiday survival tips and maintain a decent level of fitness.
Look at your calendar and see exactly how many days you’ll be spending with family and friends. This gives you an idea of how much riding you’ll be able to do in the days before and after your visits and allows you to plan on ramping up your training if needed. If you’re staying close to home, there may also be the opportunity to sneak in a ride before those big holiday meals.
Whatever your schedule may be, don’t just accept that it’s the holidays and you won’t be able to ride at all. Look for ways to get those rides in before and after your family time, even if you can’t spend as much time on the bike as you’d like.
HAVE A GOAL
Just because it’s cold outside or you don’t have any races planned until the spring doesn’t mean you can’t have goals or benchmarks you want to accomplish. During the holidays, aiming for a specific goal can keep you on track instead of letting consecutive days off put you in a rut that can be hard to overcome.
Monthly miles, a 100-mile day or setting up an organized challenge with friends are all good goals you can set to stay motivated for training when you might otherwise be less likely to do so.
TRAVEL WITH YOUR BIKE
Chances are there will be some downtime when you’re off visiting family and friends. If you’re heading off for an extended stay, consider taking a bike with you. Flying with a bike is pretty easy, and if you’re driving to a location, you probably already have a bike rack. Once you get to the new location search for new routes to check out, which can be a nice way to break up the monotony of the same old training rides and re-energize your cycling. If the holiday dinner is across town, riding to the location can be another good way to get in your miles.
TRY A DIFFERENT ACTIVITY
For some, trying to fit cycling around the holidays can be too stressful to manage. If this is you, there are still ways you can avoid heading down that dark hole of months-long non-fitness.
Instead of worrying about all the rides you’re missing or trying to explain to loved ones why you need to head out for a ride, take the time to try something new. Cross-training can be an excellent way to mix things up, stay in shape and give you a mental break from all the on-the-bike training. Try weight training at the gym, a short hike with the family or a few games of basketball at the park. Any activity is better than no activity, and the name of the game during the holidays is burning calories.
ORGANIZE A RIDE
While you can always look for an organized ride or run in your area during the holidays, organizing a ride yourself is also an option. If you have a few cycling buddies you like to ride with, schedule a day or two of riding together. Tell your partners to invite a few people, too, and plan on celebrating the season afterward at a café or local brewery.
Another idea is to organize a friendly, relaxed ride with family or friends during a visit. Getting people on a bike who don’t normally cycle can be a ton of fun and is a great way to get everyone outdoors for a little while to enjoy each other’s company.
HAVE AN EATING PLAN
Even without working out as much as you’d like, you can still maintain a decent amount of fitness as long as you eat smart during the holidays. Here are a few things you can do to keep the calorie count to a minimum:
- Don’t skip meals: Instead of skipping breakfast and lunch in anticipation of a huge dinner, eat regular meals. This keeps the face stuffing to a minimum.
- Watch the drinks: Soda, hot chocolate and alcohol have a ton of calories. Drink more water instead.
- Eat a small, healthy meal before the holiday dinner: This helps you stay satisfied with regular or smaller portions at a party.
- Dessert is OK, just don’t overdo it: Rewarding yourself with a sweet treat is fine every once in a while. Just keep the seconds to a minimum.