Doing little or no training over the holidays is common, as Christmas is a time to celebrate with family and friends, and unwind, relax and rejuvenate after a busy year of training and races.
'Tis the season of festive feasts, free-flowing wine and tins of Quality Street. And while it’s good to indulge a little at Christmas, one needn’t succumb to the ‘all or nothing’ mentality. If you run and train regularly, and want to avoid derailing your fitness efforts over Christmas, it's not sensible to completely abandon your exercise regime and stuff yourself silly. Rather, by continuing to exercise and by keeping yourself fit amid the festivities – you'll be able to enjoy the extra food and drink without feeling guilty and enter the new year feeling happy and healthier, than you would, following a week of mad excess!
5 good reasons to keep running during the festive period:
1. Workouts don't need to be long to be beneficial.
A short faster-paced run is just as, if not more, effective than a slower-paced long run. So head outside for 20-30 mins and be back home sharpish. Waking up relatively early is a great way of getting a run in, without missing out on anything.
2. Endorphins – the happy hormone
Running clears your mind and boosts your mood! If you're anything like me, you will feel awesome after a run and grouchy and gloomy if you haven’t run for a while. Avoid those waves of guilt, feelings of regret and mood swings by getting outside amid the festivities, to get your daily dose of endorphins!
Endorphins are chemicals released when we exercise, produced naturally by the nervous system to cope with pain or stress. It’s these feel-good chemicals that trigger the famous 'runner’s high'!
3. Make Christmas even more social
If you love the social aspects of running, why not organise group runs with family, friends or work colleagues to get into the festive spirit? Or get involved in local running events and celebrate community this Christmas!
Find a Festive Fun Run or Santa Dash near you
Lots of cities organise themed fun runs in the weeks’ leading up to Christmas. These events are suitable for all ages and abilities – relaxed, untimed and short in distance (max 5K). All you need is a Santa Suit!
Parkrun on Christmas Day
To run or not to run on Christmas Day? The Christmas Parkrun provides the perfect opportunity to squeeze a run in and enjoy a good dose of camaraderie and community togetherness at the same time! Parkrun venues across the UK are staging extra events on Christmas Day and/or New Year’s Day. Find your local events here: parkrun.org.uk/special-events/
Bring all the family along to run (or watch). What better way to start the day and work up an appetite for Christmas lunch, eh?
If you are new to Parkrun, you may be interested in reading our article: Inside Parkrun – Start your Journey today!
4. Eat that extra slice of (mince) pie
It’s almost impossible to resist crispy roast potatoes, warming mince pies and fruity festive puddings, so relax your eating patterns and enjoy a little indulgence, while keeping things under control, with exercise and treats in moderation.
Allow yourself a few tasty treats per day, rather than depriving yourself of the foods you love all week, then stuffing yourself silly come Christmas Day! And be sure to eat lots of healthy veggies (alongside the sweets) and stay well hydrated by drinking water, to avoid the Christmas hangovers this season!
5. Have yourself a running adventure
If you're lucky enough to be on annual leave over the Christmas period, why not plan your own adventure? If you prefer solo runs to group runs, you could head out at the crack of dawn or late at night, to soak up the silence in crisp, cold conditions. Or alternatively, if time allows, plan a multi-day running adventure with pals to explore new terrain and take in the landscape!
Christmas is a great time to exercise, as well a chance to kick back and relax on the sofa. Strike the right balance and you’ll have a merry old time!