Readers Roundtable: How Do You Train During the Holidays

Holiday Running

For many of us, the holiday season coincides with our off-season, when we enter post-race maintenance mode, giving our bodies and minds a much-needed break from hard training. While Santa Claus is checking his list and tuning up his sleigh, the rest of us find ourselves mired in extra concerts, party invitations, and frankly, a lot of extra work: shopping, wrapping, baking, planning. A more flexible and laid-back approach to running can be a great match for all the activity.

But for some – here at Salty Running that includes Sesame and Angelica – have decided on January or February races, so we find ourselves in the thick of training during the holiday season, and squeezing the marathon miles in is tough!

There is a range of approaches to holiday disruptions. Is it better to run long on Saturday morning and get it out of the way? Two weeks ago, I tried that and was a zombie at the Saturday night PTA-mom party. Running long on Sunday means shutting down Saturday night festivities on the early side and probably passing on the cocktails. Finding time for 15 miles the weekend before Christmas was like trying to do a jigsaw puzzle with too many pieces – one event or another kept slipping out of the picture. I’m crossing my fingers about the weather because there’s no room on the agenda for a blizzard!

We want to hear from you! How do you handle holiday disruptions to training schedules? Is your off-season meshing with your holiday season? Or are concerts, cocktails and cooking-baking throwing you off-kilter?

How do you balance training and celebrating this time of year?

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  1. I actually LOVE training during the holidays. It usually means I have some off-days from work, and my friends have off-days, and more friends might be in town visiting! Both my family and my husband’s are in town, so this year we had a family party this past Sunday afternoon, one this Sunday evening, and then a full day on Christmas. And that’s it!

  2. Long runs are always on the weekends, holidays or not, so that usually puts a damper in partying hard in general. But, we have like-minded friends, so no big.
    As far as getting in some runs while traveling, that’s another ball game all together…

  3. I usually go into untraining mode for the holidays, and don’t plan any racing till the new year. None of our relatives lives in town, so the holiday season usually involves a lot of travel – it’s just too much to plan around that. (Last night I *dreamt* I ran a 3:37 marathon and spent some time at the finish freaking out about whether the course was several miles short. Totally rational. Does that count? It was certainly emotionally exhausting.)

  4. I usually don’t train during the holidays as we are either visiting family or family is visiting us, but this year I have target race in February (I live in Texas) and will be training still. I’ve just adjusted my workout schedule so that I don’t have any important workouts while I am gone, just easy runs. My parents are visiting the week after christmas, which was already supposed to be an easy week. Both my dad and my MIL run, so I’ll have a running partner for all my easy runs which will be nice.

  5. Because it is so hot where I live now, the winter is the very best time to train! The holidays do not affect my training (or not training) at all – I always try to train in the AM and always go to bed early, so it’s just business as usual!

  6. for me the winter holidays are way easier to navigate than summer because summer is when we travel. In winter I’m staying home so I’m more in control of my schedule.

  7. In the past, December has always been a downtime for me – run more or less however much I feel like, dodge the bad weather, burn off holiday cookies. This year I’ve got an early February marathon so my training is more serious. So far, so good. It’s helping both to be flexible and to communicate with my family so I can juggle long runs with holiday events. One badly-timed snow storm really does have the potential to mess up this balancing act so I am keeping my fingers crossed.

    1. On that snowstorm thing: Living in New England has forced me to make peace with the treadmill – I once did a 17-mile long run on the ‘mill, broken up into three chunks!

  8. I always feel out of shape during the holiday season! I usually play it easy and run easy 4-5 milers. But, on occasion, I like to throw in a work (like today!) or a longer run, just to keep the wheels moving. Usually, it makes me want to puke everywhere, but it makes all the extra desserts and coffee and wine worth it!

  9. It all depends on the travel. If i am not having to spend all day driving, I usually get in more runs than normal. (But, I’m older. All my kids are out of the house)

  10. Great topic! Thankfully my daughter’s social night is Friday so my husband deals with anything after 10pm. I get up on Saturday and run. I hope it will be above freezing and not ice like! I drink Ultima and that recovers me enough to push through the day – and night activities. I don’t drink while training (very rare) so even if I’m asleep late on Saturday I can get up for my body works on Sunday. I don’t clean much on the weekends! I can do laundry during the week. So it is working but I’m only at 10 miles as of now.

  11. I am able to keep up with my scheduled workouts for the most part, but depending on if my trainers are available when I am or not I may lift weights by myself. Good communication with my coaches and trainers allows us to plan for the days where I really just can’t make something work. Like on Christmas Day I won’t have access to a pool, so there won’t be a swim that day.

    I have relaxed some of my healthy eating standards a bit, but I’ll be right back on track after Christmas.

  12. Every year around this time I get sick or injured. I would never ever plan to train through the holidays again because of it. I also struggle at the beginning and end of the school year, not quite to the extent I seem to at year’s end, but I’d always plan around those realities if I were to train again.

  13. We don’t travel over the holidays, but now that I have kids, it’s definitely harder because they’re home from school and care. Mine will be home for a 10 day stretch this year. I usually end up upping the intensity and keeping the frequency, but lowering the volume, since I can’t escape for as long. So instead of 12-15 km, I might get in 8. I’m training for Boston again this year so I’m in early stages of training, but can’t totally slack off!