The holidays are a tough time for endurance athletes. All of the tempting foods, drink, social obligations, dwindling workouts and feeling like you're getting worn to a nub. Below are a few tips and thoughts to help you survive the next few days:
Your number one priority is to stay healthy. Cheating sleep to fit in that extra workout on the indoor trainer is not worth it. If you need the rest, then skip the workout and focus on getting some quality rest. The rest can keep you from getting sick and potentially losing several days or weeks of fitness and training.
Let some of your workouts be optional. During the holidays, I typically give my athletes a few key workouts to keep stress under control and the other workouts considered optional. If you can only do three workouts this week, which ones will you do? (And no, they don't have to be the workouts that include the highest intensity.)
Some is better than none. If you don't have time to fit in that one-hour run or bike ride, then take a walk for 20 minutes. Doing a little something physical is better than bemoaning your busy holiday schedule and turning to the fridge for comfort.
Take time to be grateful for family and friends. Stop for just five minutes and think about all the great people in your life. Glad they are there? Let them know.
Avoid fatigue. Yeah, yeah, I know this looks like the first tip; but I can't emphasize enough how important it is to get adequate rest. Nothing tanks a nutrition plan faster than fatigue. I've found most people can control the amount and number of treats they have if they feel rested. Once they feel stressed and tired, many will seek food in an effort to help feel better. When that happens quantity and quality of food increase and decrease respectively. Get rest.
Look for the good in the holiday. Lots of people don't like the holiday season for one reason or another. Certainly there is at least one good thing in about your holiday season?
Do something nice for someone else. It feels great to do something nice for somebody else and it might help your immune system. There are at least two books that look at positive moods and immunity. One excerpt is here, a second is here. Being negative is bad for your health.
Keep intensity low. In general, when the stress levels increase, keep the intensity levels low in workouts. A double-whammy of stressful "life" in addition to stress in workouts might be too much. Stay aerobic.
Caffeine is not a substitute for sleep. Try to avoid the nasty cycle of using, rather attempting to use, caffeine as a substitute for rest. If you feel exhausted, rest. Consider taking a 10-20 minute nap after work. Set the alarm on your watch to keep you from over-doing the nap.
Seek out positive people. Every group has at least one negative person. Choose not to spend much time with this person, rather seek out people that are positive and that make you laugh.
Enjoy the holiday season ~