For many of us, it really is the most wonderful time of the year. (Unless you’re a parent… then that would be the day they go back to school.) But even the best of times can present us with pressures and challenges. Whether you’re trying to stick to a training plan, or just need to run to stay sane this time of year… sometimes it’s tough to find the minutes for the miles.
By incorporating some of these strategies below, you can navigate the holiday season and continue to prioritize your running routine. Make time to run, and enjoy!
Schedule Your Runs:
Plan your runs for the week ahead. Use a planner or smartphone app to mark the specific times you’ll dedicate to running. Consider the time of day that works best for you, and – to the best of your ability – keep that time sacred. . Early morning runs can energize you for the day, while lunchtime or evening runs can help relieve stress.
Go for Short, Intense Workouts:
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a time-efficient way to burn calories and improve cardiovascular fitness; and yes, it can improve running form and economy. Short sprints, jumping jacks, and burpees are excellent choices for a quick workout. Tight on time? Aim for 20-30 minutes of intense exercise – like short sprints, a hill workout, or a kettlebell routine. Don’t forget the warm-up and cool-down.
Include Family and Friends:
Turn running into a family affair. Set aside a specific time for a family run or encourage friends to join you for a jog. Consider participating in local holiday fun runs or charity races as a group. Sign up the whole family or join some friends for a “Santa Run” or other holiday-themed races in your area to combine running with the holiday spirit.
Cash-in on Breaks at Work:
If your workplace has shower facilities, use your lunch break for a quick run. Or, buy a holiday pass at a local gym to take advantage of the showers and facilities there. Doing the WFH thing? Block the time on your calendar to keep the time free for you and your run. Create a home workout routine that includes bodyweight exercises like squats, lunges, and push-ups. Or invest in a set of resistance bands or dumbbells for added intensity.
Set Realistic Goals:
If your usual running routine feels overwhelming or unworkable given your other commitments, set smaller, more achievable goals. Aim for a minimum number of runs per week and gradually increase the duration or intensity as your schedule allows. Again, look for opportunities and schedule the time if possible.
Have Your Gear at the Ready
This may sound simple, but if you have to spend time colleting your gear, gloves, hat, shoes, etc., you’re less likely to get out there on the run. Find a place to stash a bag or a stack of running gear that’s weather appropriate and ready to go at a moment’s notice.
This time of year can be unpredictable. Toss holiday schedules, end of year deadlines, and travel into the mix and you’ve got a real recipe for inconsistent running. Embrace the opportunity to explore new running routes or trails, events, or running during different times of day during the holiday season. Consider varying your workout intensity throughout the week, with longer runs on days when you have more time. Traveling for the holidays? Check the local race calendar or connect with a local running specialty shop or running club.
Combine Holiday Errands with Running:
Plan your errands or shopping strategically so you can run, jog, or walk to nearby locations. Use a backpack or running belt to carry essentials, and choose a route that allows you to stop at different places. Curate a playlist of your favorite holiday tunes to make your holiday errands a little less like work.
Recognize the mental health benefits of running during busy times. It’s a great way to clear your mind and manage stress. Combine running with other self-care practices, such as meditation or a relaxing bath, to maximize the benefits. Remind your non-running partners, spouses, etc., that running is more than a hobby and that it helps you manage the stress of the festivities and holiday commitments.
Rather than dwelling on the workouts you didn’t make, celebrate the ones you did. Acknowledge the effort you put into maintaining your running routine, even if it’s a short run. Consider keeping a running journal to track your progress and celebrate your achievements. Look back on that journal or note next year to see what worked for you, and how you could make more time to run in 2024!
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