As we get closer to the holidays, it gets harder and harder to stay on an exercise schedule. Traveling, shopping, family activities, holiday parties and the dreaded pool closings make it tougher to maintain a schedule. During the holiday period I tell my athletes it is ok to be flexible, as learning how to adapt is a skill to work on and this is a great time to do so. When I lay out training, I understand that there might be a snow storm, an illness, or a last second change of plans. With that in mind it is better to see the goal of being consistent instead of trying to make any specific gains.
One good method is to find a friend to work out with; it is much easier to get outside if you have somebody who is expecting you to show up. This also can help you achieve more in your workouts. Make a plan to show up at the pool and swim together, at the park and run together, or even get on a virtual bike session together.
If you know that you are going to be traveling, plan ahead. Take a look at the weather and the pool schedule where you are headed and see what is possible. It might not be easy to get in the usual number of workouts, but even hitting the pool once per week is better than skipping your swims entirely. It feels much worse to start up again after taking time off and you are less motivated to start again because it feels worse… it’s a vicious cycle.
On the bike, try to keep the trainer workouts short and sweet. It can be very daunting to get on a bike and ride 4 hours, but doing that indoors can be a task that nobody wants to do. I generally try to keep trainer workouts shorter because unlike outdoor riding there is no downtime and you do not stop pedaling or coast down hills or have a coffee stop. Keep the rides short, but sweet, incorporating some good intervals or cadence builds to stay engaged.
Personally, I enjoy running in the cold, maybe its from growing up in Massachusetts or the cold winters of training I did while at Dartmouth, but the crisp air had never annoyed me. The most important piece is to dress correctly, I wear two layers on top if it is under 40. I add a second layer of pants and a second layer on top under 30. Gloves and hat are a must. The goal is that you should be a bit cold for the first 20 minutes. If you are warm within 5 minutes you are overdressed and that can be worse than being cold, as you will sweat more and overheat.
As you embark on the holiday season, be flexible, dress correctly, plan ahead and find a buddy to train with. The goal is to stay consistent so that when you get back into your normal routine after new years you are not behind and feeling like you didn’t train for 3 weeks!