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Balancing the Holiday Season

"Time and balance. The two most difficult things to have control over, yet they are both the things that we do control." - Catherine Pulsifer

With the start of the holiday season, it’s a time for many athletes to rest, recover, and re-energize.

While a week or two can be extremely helpful, more time off can cause you to lose fitness and get out of competitive shape.

For some athletes extra time off is needed, i.e., to recover from an injury. Just remember, give yourself enough time to get back into competitive form and don’t rush in too fast. It’s better to go in 100% ready than risk re-injury and further setbacks.

For others, after a few days off they are chomping at the bit to get active again. For this group of athletes, the off season or down time means it’s a time to change things up by cross-training.

For the recreational athlete, this can be a seasonal change from running marathons in the summer, hiking in the fall, cross country skiing in the winter, and cycling the spring.

On the other hand, the holiday season is a break that can occur right in the middle of a competitive season or during the off-season. The key is to manage the time to keep your edge, yet also be able to spend time with family and loved ones.

Tips for the holiday season:

a. If you are traveling for the holidays, plan ahead. If fitness equipment isn’t available, figure out what exercises you can do, what trails you can walk / run, or even find local gyms that you can workout in.

b. Make memories. Create shorter workouts so you can spend time with your family and friends. We are social creatures and need to spend time with others. Balance your time with training and staying fit, and spending time with your loved ones.

c. Find a workout buddy. Whether you play a pick up game of basketball or tag with younger siblings, get others involved to help you stay active and to make it fun. You can even get others to go on long walks with you as you walk the dog; or go sledding with the family and walk up the hill at a faster pace or even run back up to the top.

d. Cross training or doing different activities allows you to recharge your body and mind. Physically, it can help you to improve strength, agility, stability, aerobic capacities, and flexibility, which in turn balances out your muscles. Mentally, changing it up can be a stress release. For one, it presents you with a new set of challenges and things to focus on. Secondly, switching your focus away from your sport, even for a short period of time can help you to avoid burnout.

e. Moderation during the holidays. Thanksgiving is the start of the holiday season of eating and overeating. Balance is about moderation. If you go big on a holiday meal, don’t feel bad, just make sure to get in an extra workout or activity.

f. Look ahead by reviewing current goals and make adjustments, as needed. Downtime is a great time to reflect, rest, re-energize, and refocus.

g. If you don’t know what to do, ask your coach(es) and teammates for creative ideas.

In the end, holidays are about connection and spending time with those you care about. Make that a priority and balance it out with your training schedule. This year of Covid-19 has forced us into isolation. It’s for this reason why it’s especially important to find ways to connect with your loved ones and to spend time with them, even if you are apart.

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