With it being thanksgiving next week I want to talk about staying active during the holidays. Your training plan should always be realistic and set you up for success.

Stephanieruns Fitness

November 18, 2018 Newsletter

Can you stay active during the holidays?

Next week is Thanksgiving for my American friends. I'm Canadian and we had Thanksgiving last month but this is the time of year where our calendars fill up. The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are probably the busiest most demanding weeks of the year. Which brings up the question, can you stay active during the holidays? I believe that we run and workout to add value to our lives, but that our training shouldn't take over our life. So the question becomes how can you adjust your training plan so you can remain active but still meet your obligations?

If you look back at the SMART principle for goal setting the AR stands for attainable and realistic. When you're reviewing your training plan during the holidays it should also be attainable and realistic. You need to be honest with yourself about what is realistic. You can't do it all. If you have several family obligations you have to ask yourself can you also workout on that day? Your training plan should always set yourself up for success. I'm sure you've heard the phrase if you fail to plan you plan to fail. I recommending regularly reviewing your training plan to make sure it works for you and your life. This becomes even more important during busy times like the holidays.

So how can you review your training plan? First I would write out all the dates where you have any holiday plans. Write our all the parties, dinners and outings that you have planned. With that information you can refer back to your training plan to see where there is overlap. You might need to move workouts or scale back your training plan and that's okay. There are lots of options you can consider to stay active over the holiday. Here's a few.

1) Get your workout in early in the morning. This was a very popular option when I asked how you get your workout in during the holidays on twitter this week. If you get your workout in first thing that leaves the rest of the day for life to happen.

2) Run a race. Maybe you're running a Turkey Trot next Thursday. This would give you a light training week during the holidays. Your week would be focused on preparing and recovering from your race. Bonus you get to run a fun race, hopefully with friends and family by your side.

3) Treat the holiday's as active recovery. Stay active but without the pressure of a training schedule. Depending on what you're training for you might be able to build in active recovery over the holidays. This could potentially work better over the Christmas holiday especially if you're training for a spring race. 

4) Involve your friends and family in your workouts. My family has a tradition where we do a run, walk or workout before a holiday dinner. This workout is no pressure. It's about having fun, staying active and catching up. you could also consider signing up for an exercise class such as yoga or spinning with your friends or family.

5) Most importantly know your limits. The holidays are stressful enough without layering your training plan on top. You're training because you have a goal and you don't want to lose sight of that but at the end of the holidays you can't be too worn down that you get sick or injured. If you're sick or injured that will derail your training plan further. Make your training over the holidays realistic and flexible and go with the flow.

Bottom line, know yourself and what's realistic. Modify your training plan so it fits the demands of your life. Be flexible with yourself, even the best laid plans might need to change and that's okay.

Ask Stephanieruns Fitness

This week Cindy @cindymacruns14 on twitter asks "I have a question @srunsfitness Do you suggest using the same dynamic warm up before both easy runs and long runs, or should these look different? What about before a race?"

What a great question Cindy. There's no real right answer to this one but let's go over a few options. Generally the more intense your workout is going to be the longer your warm up should be. Your body needs to be prepare for the stress you're going to put it through. Does this mean that you don't need to worry about your warm up before an easy run? Of course not! It's still very important. I like my athletes to do a dynamic warm up before all workouts. This means bringing your heart rate up and then adding in dynamic stretches specific to the body parts you'll be using in your workout. 

Before your easy run you might only need about five minutes to bring up your heart rate and add in your dynamic stretches. Before a more intense workout like a speed session you might need about ten minutes. Don't sell yourself short on your warm up. While a long run isn't intense in terms of the speed you'll be running, the intensity comes from the duration of your run. I would make sure before you get into your long run pace your heart rate is up and you have warmed up your legs, hips, back, chest and even your arms. Make sure you're prepared for your run.

I think your warm up before a race is extremely important. This is the time you'll be running at your highest intensity. Not only do you need a longer warm up, and more dynamic stretching you also need to stay warmed until you cross that start line. This can be difficult, but not impossible at a larger race. Time your warm up so when you line up you can still add in some dynamic stretching, and jumping jacks to stay warm.

The key is to know what your body needs for your warm up and not start your workout until your body is prepared. Thanks for the question Cindy!

Managing Your Stress by Working Out

The holidays are a stressful time there's no debating that! A lot of runners use running as a way to manage their stress. How many times have you been at work and said to yourself 'I need a run right now?' Can you use your workout to manage your holiday stress? Absolutely you can. However it's probably not realistic to run out  in the middle of your holiday party. You need to plan how and the types of workouts you can do to help manage your stress.

I would encourage you to look over your holiday schedule. The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas can be incredibly busy. Highlight the weeks or days where you're most likely to be more stressed out than normal. Maybe you have family coming over or a big event at work. Look at how you can plan a workout around that event. Maybe you can get in a quick speed sessions before a big work event or you can plan to meditate after the event.

You also have to keep in mind that if you have a stressful day or week you might not be able to add in a run or workout that day. So what other options do you have to manage your stress? You might just need a few calm minutes, a cup of coffee or some mindfulness or meditation before you hop into bed. Our workouts shouldn't be the only way that we manage our stress, we need to have other tools in our tool kit.

You can also be flexible with your training plan so that if you need to add in another workout to help manage your stress you can. Just be sure to plan what workouts will help with you manage your stress the best and keep them on the back burner for when you need them. Maybe you've collected some free passes to gyms or fitness studios. It might be a nice treat to use those over the holidays. Maybe you have friends with fitness memberships that can bring a friend for free. Take advantage of these opportunities as well.

Above all else remember that it's always okay to say no to any commitment including your workouts. Stay well this holiday season!

If you're looking for a strength training plan geared for runners check out my Training Peak's store. Currently all my plans are on sale.

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If you're looking for help with your running and strength training I am available. Send me an e-mail at fitness@stephaneruns.com for more details and to see if I'd be a good fit for your training.


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Oakville Ontario,  L6M 2V5 - Canada

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Disclaimer: Always seek medical advice before starting an exercise program. This newsletter is not medical advice. Medical advice should be sought from a medical professional. Stephanieruns Fitness assumes no liability for any injuries or damages as a result of the above content.