Training Blog: December
With Christmas upon us and race day just 12 weeks away, you may be starting to panic about staying focused over the festive season. Fear not, Hannah Lees, running coach and founder of Hannah the Runner has some tips for keeping on track.
Oh **** it’s Christmas!
Any change to the normal routine invariably messes up my running, how about you? But don’t worry – there are things you can do to keep on track.
Plan your exercise and stick to your plan
My number one tip for every runner I coach is to plan their runs in their diary, write them in and defend that time. This is even more important at Christmas time. Some lucky people have families who know how important it is for them to have time out for exercise and will send them off for a run. If you’re not one of those lucky ones you might need to explain how important your running time is to you. Remind your family that you’re a nicer person after you’ve had a run!
Make the most of the time you have
You might not have the luxury or an hour or two for a long run, but short, intense runs are great for your fitness and can slot in anywhere. Give the family a kilo of brussels sprouts to peel and dash off for 20 minutes of hill reps. Run hard up the hill for 45 seconds then walk back down for 2 minutes. You only need to time the first one then simply aim for the same point on the hill each time. Depending on your level of fitness you can do anywhere between 6 and 12 reps. That endorphin hit is exactly what you need to survive an afternoon of playing monopoly!
Are you staying at home for Christmas? Do you normally run with a group? Your regular sessions might not be happening, but other people will be about. Ping them a message or stick a post on social media. You could even plan it in advance. Having people to meet up with makes you accountable and that helps motivate you to go when inside is warm and outside is grey and cold.
If you’re off to visit family or friends somewhere then lucky you – you get to explore some different routes! You could hook up with a local group (try runtogether.co.uk for friendly folk to run with around England). You could also have a look for a local parkrun. Their Christmas Compendium has all the extra events taking place on Christmas Day and New Years Day in addition to the usual Saturday morning 5Ks and Sunday morning 2Ks.
Stay active with your family
Be creative with your running. Can you persuade the children and grandparents to walk to a canal-side pub while you run there? We’re unlikely to have a snowy Christmas in Bath, but even if you can’t join in with an energetic snowball fight, you can definitely instigate a kick about in the park or a game of tag. Throw yourself into it and have some fun!
Have a rest
Clever sports scientists have tested the performance of athletes and concluded that a week off has no impact on their fitness and a fortnight off saw only around a 5% dip in their 5K times. Everyone needs some down time, both physically and mentally, so rest without feeling guilty. You might even find that a reduction in mileage for a couple of weeks will reduce the aches and niggles that plague regular runners.
Return to it after Christmas
If you do fall off the running wagon over Christmas and New Year draw a line under it. It doesn’t matter. If you’ve had the whole of December off or if you’ve gone a bit mad with the mince pies, you may need to ease back into running a little bit, but honestly, even if you feel like you need to start at the beginning all over again you don’t! You’ll get back to where you were before in no time. Build your distance and time back up in small, manageable chunks such as adding 1km to your distance each week. Doing too much too soon is the number one cause of running injury so don’t overdo it and if anything starts to hurt have a few days rest, take things back a step and have another go.
Have a wonderful Christmas and here’s to some fabulous running in the New Year!