For many of us, November and December are the off-season months. There are very few races scheduled in most states, and we’re all celebrating one or more holidays and getting ready for New Years. It’s cold, it’s dark, we’re training less and we’re eating too much. Here are some thoughts about what to do to stay in shape and still enjoy the holidays.
• Keep a consistent training routine. Do something, even if it’s less than your norm. Work on quality not quantity.
• Join a gym, fitness center or YMCA, or buy some basic exercise equipment for your home. It will probably be too cold and/or too dark to train outdoors all the time, so get into the habit of training inside. Swim 2 to 3 times a week at the local pool. Run on a treadmill several times a week. Put your bike on an indoor windtrainer and ride a few days a week.
• Find a training buddy; someone who will meet you at least once a week at the gym, etc. and workout together. Knowing there’s someone expecting you to be at the gym for a workout will help ensure that you don’t skip the workout.
• Do your cardio work at lower heart rates. This time of year, you want to improve your aerobic capacity and you do that by working at lower heart rates (Aerobic HR or 65% of max HR).
• Work on technique, especially in areas where you feel the need for improvement.
• Stretch daily. Keep up the core strength work and weight training.
• Watch what you eat. You’re training less and burning fewer calories. Reduce your caloric intake or you’ll put on pounds. That said, enjoy some holiday cookies, etc. Just don’t overdo it.
• Get some rest. I recommend 10 days to 2 weeks of complete or “active” rest, usually at the end of the calendar year. It’s good for the mind as well as the body. And when it’s time to resume training in the new year, you’ll be psyched and ready to Rock ‘n Roll!