The busy holiday season is here, but you also have a race to train for. How can you stay motivated to squeeze in your training runs between big meals and seemingly endless shopping? Here are a few tips to help you fit it all in.

Be Realistic

  • Most runners don’t log 100% of their planned mileage during the holiday season. That’s perfectly ok. Many experienced coaches will say that if you can get 80 to 90% of the planned workouts in, you’ll be in great shape.
  • Shorten some workouts if you have to. A shorter workout is better than no workout and it will help you to stay on track.

Plan Ahead

  • Plan your training schedule accordingly. Whether you’re working with a 1:1 coach or have a generic plan, you’ll likely want to plan your highest-mileage weeks to NOT be in the middle of your busiest travel week.
  • Plan for your busiest week to be your recovery week for running, during which your planned mileage is lower than your average.
  • If you have to skip a run, skip the shorter, easy runs. Try to keep the hard workouts and long runs in your schedule for maximum benefit. You can move them around if you need to.
  • When moving workouts around, just remember not to plan a hard interval session and a long run on back-to-back days.
  • If you’re traveling for the holidays, check in advance for running routes or a gym at your destination. Pack running clothes for indoor or outdoor running accordingly.
  • Getting up for an early morning run might be the best way to squeeze in workouts on busy days.
  • Hydrate well. If your holiday parties include more alcohol than you’re used to, plan for extra hydration as well. That could simply mean drinking more water, or having a tasty electrolyte beverage during the day. Make sure you enter long runs and hard workouts well hydrated for best performance and safety.

Make it Festive

  • Plan some fun seasonal runs to bring more enjoyment to your winter training.
  • Plan a route touring neighborhood holiday lights. It’s a fun way to run in the dark and still enjoy the holiday scenery. Dress for safety with bright colors, reflective gear and a headlamp.
  • Look for a shorter race to test your fitness prior to the big event. There are plenty of holiday themed runs to try out.
  • Embrace the season by streaming a holiday-themed channel for music during your indoor runs.

Consider the Benefits – By running regularly through the holidays you can:

  • Sweat off some holiday-induced stress
  • Reduce holiday weight gain
  • Maintain or even improve your fitness
  • Get a jumpstart on New Year’s resolutions by finishing off your 2014 with a solid fitness routine!

Happy Holidays!