Getting outside for a run when the rest of your family is cozy inside cheering for the home team while eating chips is tough. So is getting to the office party a little late because you had afternoon intervals. But when you make it through the holiday season feeling fitter than ever, with your resolutions already fully underway, you’ll be glad you stayed disciplined enough to maintain your training despite every temptation.
Your hard work will pay off, so use these eight tips to help stick to your running all holiday long.
1. FIND A SEASON-ORIENTED GOAL
‘Tis the season to get running? Make your motivation holiday-themed with a personal goal, like running all 12 days of Christmas (you can forget the turtle doves, partridge and pear tree, though) — or buy an advent calendar and set a goal to do your daily run before opening each day’s door. Need something more competitive? Sign up for a holiday 5K or 10K so you won’t be as inclined to skip a day’s training or say yes to an extra cocktail at a holiday party.
2. CHANGE IT UP
Go long or go short with your runs instead of sticking with the same routine. If you’ve got holiday get-togethers or the winter doldrums are crushing your will to get in a long run, swap in some hill sprints instead. (Or, if you need a break from running, use this time to cross-train, and try classes at the gym so your fitness doesn’t take a hit.)
3. ENLIST A FRIEND
As you visit friends and family, recruit a new running buddy in each town to keep you company. If you’re traveling a lot, set up a challenge with friends to see who can log the most miles between now and New Year’s. Keeping the competition going with friends — maybe with an extra present or two on the line as incentive — will help shove you out the door on those gloomy days.
4. DO SOME EARLY HOLIDAY SHOPPING
Get yourself an early Christmas present this season — like a new pair of tights, running shoes or gloves. But don’t wait to use them. The new running gear will remind you to keep running, or at least make you feel guilty if you don’t.
READ MORE > HOW PRO RUNNERS HANDLE THE HOLIDAYS
5. COUNT CALORIES
It’s not right for everyone, but some people might benefit from doing a bit of calorie counting, especially right around the holidays. Seeing in black-and-white how much you ate at great-aunt Linda’s cookie party will likely have you sprinting out the door. Similarly, daily weigh-ins or photographing each piece of food you eat can keep you honest and motivated.
6. MAKE A PLAN
Instead of going into these next few weeks with the laissez-faire idea of running when you have time, make a training plan. Even if you deviate from your schedule a bit between now and New Year’s, you’ll likely exercise more with an actual written plan versus a more casual approach.
7. TAKE A BREAK
If you don’t relish the idea of running on a certain day, don’t feel obligated. Rather, plan days off around travel and holiday parties, and, instead, schedule long runs on the days before or after.
8. WRITE YOUR RESOLUTIONS EARLY
Think ahead to what you want your New Year’s resolutions to be. If they involve running more or some kind of other fitness goal, having that goal in mind as you head into the holidays might make it easier to stay on track so you’re starting the year ahead of the game — not with 10 extra pounds and much lower fitness levels.
GEAR UP FOR YOUR NEXT RUN: