December can be a lot, here are some things to help you stay focused and full of energy.
The holidays are here, but are we ready? I’ve been so busy training and working and writing and connecting, that it hit me: there are only about five weeks left to the end of the year. FIVE. In those few weeks, we tend to pack all sorts of activities (present shopping, decorating, holiday parties, family in town, kids at home) on top of our regular scheduled program , only to collapse by the end of the month, hoping for the year to come to an end. I have certainly been guilty of this myself in the past. But, this year, here’s a chance to do it differently!
Whether you celebrate the Holidays in December or not, chances are, vacations, gatherings, end of year deadlines, and kids at home will throw the training schedule out of its natural rhythm. And that’s ok. The physical benefits of an off-season we’ve already discussed last month. If you’re looking for some insights into How to Train in the Off-Season without losing your form, definitely check out Coach Marion’s article. But even if this is not your main off-season, there is still tremendous value in adjusting your training schedule to accommodate this last month of the year.
First off, at FS Endurance, we often like to talk about cumulative stress and how it affects your training. Cumulative stress is not just the stress you put on your body through your training units, but all of the other aspects that affect our energy input/output. All of the things that we now add to our to do list, affect our system, and how it can cope with the training load. This means that if you have family in town and even though you love them, they’re in your house 24/7 for the next two weeks, that wears on the system because there rarely is down time. Or because it’s cold the neighborhood continues to run their fireplaces, which changes the air quality. Or maybe you have to attend five or six holiday parties where your nutrition intake changes and your body has to adjust to all of that. No matter what, your system will have a more challenging time to stay in rhythm, so be kind to yourself!
With so many things on our plate, many that pop up last minute, we can quickly start feeling overwhelmed. But instead of feeling like a tumbleweed caught up in the stressful holiday winds, we can do a little bit of preparation each day to help us stay steady and mindful throughout, getting to New Year’s Eve with intention, mindfulness and hopefully a ton of joy.
- Be extra diligent with your water intake
I know, this one is very basic, but in the Winter we often don’t notice when we’re thirsty. Add to that holiday cocktails, running quick errands without a water bottle, dinners at restaurants and other people’s houses, and our water intake can easily go by the wayside. But it’s the best way to keep our system running smoothly.
- Sleep. Regularly.
Yes, also very basic, but very easy to let that one get out of control. Try to be even more precise with your sleep schedule during the holidays, so that on days when that’s absolutely not possible, your body isn’t already in a deficit. Try to schedule extra rest the day before and the day after an anticipated long evening.
- Plan Ahead
Throughout the year, I try to plan for the week, and that works pretty well. December though, I tend to have to adjust pace and/or direction about once to twice a week to not feel overwhelmed. If the to do list gets too big, look at the list and pick the 3 most important things. A few days later, reevaluate and see if importance has shifted on some of these items. That way, no matter what you’re doing, you’re always making headway.
- Know that Things Always Take Longer than Anticipated
In combination with number 3, this one’s a big one. The quickest way to get into an energy deficit is to pack too much into a day, to then feel rushed and disappointed by the end of the day when we didn’t get it all done. That quick 3-minute phone call ends up being 15 minutes, or that quick 15-minute trip to the store winds up being an hour. Plan ahead, give yourself buffer time, to help your system stay relaxed.
- Take time Daily for Yourself
In the seasons we have the least amount of time available, it’s the most important thing to take some time to ourselves each day. It may seem counterintuitive, but keeping a bit of quiet time to reflect each day allows us to be more productive and mindful for the rest of the day. Sure, it’s difficult to say “hey, sorry, I’m going to take a bit of time right now, I’ll get back to you in a bit”, but it’s worth it. How much time? At least 30 minutes. 60 minutes may not always be in the cards, but let it not fall below the 30. Morning or evening, or anywhere in between, without a screen, without talking to other people. Just time for you.
As a Bonus:
If you are looking for even more steady support throughout the entire month of December, I’ve created a TrainingPeaks training plan packed with tools and exercises that will guide you through the month of December with intention. In this plan, we’re looking at the past year and preparing for the year ahead, all while keeping you mindful in your day to day activities through the holidays.
Having a hard time justifying your exercise routine, mental wellness needs or healthy eating habits in front of others? Especially explaining it to those who want you to excessively engage in unhealthy festivity actions can be a tough one. Take control of the situation and leave a positive impression by announcing: “I’ve already jump started my New Years resolution, thus a ... ...[30min exercise session] ...[meditation session] ...[big serving of immune supporting food] ...is getting my attention today!”
Just like with workouts, the highter the intensity, the more we have to plan for recovery in order to be able to keep doing what we love. Take a bit of time each day this month to keep you focused and healthy!
Listen to this week's show & interview with Stefanie:
Something for you to try...
Sit down for the next 15 minutes and make a list of the things that will be different for you for the month of December. These are things that are away from your normal routine. Then start pondering how to structure your month to help you feel confident throughout.
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