So you’ve already put in months of hard training as you build towards your 2016 goals. But there’s a problem – the festive excess is about to put a road block in your way. Work parties, family gatherings and the usual “I’ll meet my mates for a drink” scenario will soon be played out in the weeks leading up to Christmas and the New Year. All of this puts a strain on our routine and how we approach training.
In our normal day to day life we all have the occasional bad day when we eat takeaway, have an extra drink or two after work or are caught raiding the pantry for a late night sugar fix.
We’ve all done it and it’s something our bodies and training can accommodate. But what we can’t handle is three or four weeks of excess where we over indulge at every given opportunity with the philosophy of “I’ll go back to the routine in the New Year”. This attitude will do you no favours in January and February as you start to undo all the damage of Christmas excess.
So with that in mind we thought this would be the perfect timing for a few handy tips that will help you survive the festive season and have you back on the bike in the same shape you started it.
First and most importantly do not try and fight the festive season and the changes it will bring to your routine. In fact enjoy it and embrace the time you get to spend with friends and family. However, be prepared to change your routine and be flexible. If you had a 90 minute ride planned but you have to head out to a work Christmas party early, don’t just cancel the session completely. Adapt and maybe you can still sneak in a 30 minute indoor session on the trainer. Doing something is always better than nothing.
It helps if you can plan ahead and write out a weekly training program so you can stay on top of your schedule and weekly training goals. However, don’t beat yourself up if plans changes and you fail to complete a session. Instead also plan for this and always include a backup plan into your program.
Quality not Quantity
This goes for both your training and what you eat! The festive season is ripe with temptations but that doesn’t mean you need to have them all. Don’t add extra kilos with cheap crackers and supermarket cheese, instead try to only indulge when you are surrounded by quality foods and more importantly quality people. The biggest mistake you can make is showing up to a party hungry. Everyone has done it when we force ourselves to believe that by reducing our calorie intake during the day we will keep those calories banked for the evening feast. What actually happens is that you arrive at the party starving with little ability to resist poor nutrition choices and then consume the calories you avoided in the day with low quality food choices. So not only have you consumed more calories but you have not had quality essential nutrients.
Make the most of your free time
This one will be different for all of us. Some people will actually find they have more free time over the holidays while others will feel like they can barely find time to sleep! For both types of people, it is important maximise the time you have. For those of us who are short on time, it is important to plan your sessions in advance and really think about the goals of each individual training session. If you know what you want to achieve this will help you make the most out of the little time you may have.
For those of us lucky enough to have some extra time on our hands, avoid the temptation to use every spare hour each day to add on to your training schedule. This can have a detrimental effect on overall progress rather than positive. Why? Well, for example, if you have been consistently completing eight to ten hours of training a week with weekend rides of three hours and suddenly you add on another eight to ten hours on top of this during the week, you can see that it will be a bit of a shock to the body.
We have seen athletes in the past who really pile on the volume excessively over a period of ten days to two weeks where they train to a higher level than what their body is fit enough to handle. That’s not to say you should avoid increasing volume but do so in a manner that you maintain the quality of the ride and it doesn’t lead to a long term fatigue post-Christmas that prohibits you from training constructively in the early January period.
Make sure you get enough of it! Do we need to say more? Among other things sleep gives your body time to recover and repair, boosts physical health, reduces stress, helps you maintain a healthy weight, sharpens focus and ensures that you can complete your next training session in top form. Make sure you get enough of it!