The festive period gives endurance runners the chance to get ready for the new year, writes David Lowes
The winter season is already well under way and most of the evening training runs will have been done under street lighting. Of course, there is nothing wrong with that, it’s what everyone else does after all. However, this puts restrictions on where you can train and one of the downsides is of course monotony – it’s the same route day in day out.
Most people get a good holiday break at Christmas and whether you are at school, college or university it will allow some good free time to train when and where you want.
If you are in employment, hopefully you’ll get some time off too, and for the ones who don’t, just keep focused and positive, another three months will see the nights getting lighter again.
For runners, you need a plan that you can stick to and you’ll benefit in the long run (no pun intended). However, before we look at planning, the time off not only allows you to change your monotonous training routes but it gives the opportunity to meet up with fellow runners or even drive to a bucket-list location that normally may not have been considered. This may include, where applicable, sand dunes, woodland areas or just somewhere scenic that meets the criteria for a specific workout.
Depending upon when or what your next race is, be it a cross country championship, road race or even the indoor season, the daylight hours should allow you to train where you want. Importantly, it also allows you to move your training days around to fit in with things such as family visits. Instead of sticking to the traditional Sunday long run, consider another day that may work better.
The overriding factor to success throughout the year is dedication and this is even more applicable at Christmas. Make a decision at what time you will train and stick with it.
Mid-morning is always a good idea as that may influence what you may or may not eat and drink on the previous evening. Running in the morning also frees up the rest of the day for any social activities, unless of course you are a twice a day animal!
Having some extra time to train can have a knock-on effect in that it allows you to get some extra miles or reps done. However, be aware not to over-cook it so much that the chance of injury is heightened. Train hard by all means, but never neglect the recovery process. If you train once a day, the chance of having a proper rest after a session is so much easier and productive than when in a non-holiday period.
As Christmas can be a time of over-indulgence, try to stick with a normal diet after the big day as gastro-intestinal maladies may get the better of you on that sixth rep or mile. If you get enough chocolates in your stocking to fill a supermarket shelf, why not put them out of reach so that every time you walk past them there isn’t a tendency to grab one, two, three or four.
Dried fruit and nuts are better nutrition, but go on, it’s Christmas, have a couple of chocolates. Just don’t scoff them all in one serving!
Finally, don’t forget to get out of the door on Christmas morning and get a few miles in. It’s amazing how much better you’ll feel and it may make that turkey and Christmas pudding digest that little bit better too.
» Get organised in advance
» Resist too many temptations
» Stick to a normal diet after Christmas Day
» Use your holiday time off wisely
» Explore different routes for specific sessions
» Meet up with other runners
» Move usual session days around to fit in with any socialising
» Try to go out mid-morning
» Use the extra recovery purposefully
» Train well and make the most of a relaxed lifestyle
» David Lowes is a level 4 coach, athletics writer and photographer as well as BMC academy chair and event organiser