How to Stay Race Ready During the Holiday Season

As the holiday season approaches, do you find yourself putting your running and fitness goals on hold? Due to family events, work parties, more meals outside the home, all manner of food gifts, and plenty of celebrations centered around holiday treats, it’s impossible to hold on to your current level of fitness, much less to gain speed, strength or endurance…or is it?

Whether you’re training for a race early next year or between seasons, it’s important to eat well and maintain a healthy weight to make progress toward your 2017 running goals. I’m sharing a few of my favorite proven strategies for staying race-ready while still enjoying the holiday season.


1. Set a healthful intention.

The intention you set ahead of the season has a tremendous impact on your behavior. Draw on the reason behind your running and fitness goals: Are you training for your first race or aiming to run longer distances in 2017? Are you training toward a personal best, or have you taken up running to better your health? Keep that inspiration at front of mind.

2. Set specific, achievable behaviors in support of your goals.

Instead of committing to maintaining weight or losing two pounds between now and January 1, how about committing to running four times per week, eating two vegetables at every dinner Monday through Friday, snacking only on fruit, or making dinner at home five nights a week? Track these behaviors and be accountable to your commitments.

3. Make running part of your holiday travel plans.

Whether you’re visiting your hometown or going on a tropical getaway, incorporate running on holiday! Look up running groups or trails in the area, enjoy the new scenery and don’t panic about deviating a bit from your training plan over a few days.

 Enjoying a hike while vacationing in Costa Rica.

Enjoying a hike while vacationing in Costa Rica.

4. Eat your vegetables.

When we’re eating in restaurants and at holiday parties, vegetables are usually the first item to go missing from the runner’s plate. Make it a goal to fill at least half your plate with raw, sautéed, roasted and steamed vegetables first. Plenty of leafy greens are in season, as are tasty, starchy root vegetables. With your plate full of nutritious stuff, there’s still room—just a little less of it—for more indulgent choices.

5. Choose your treats carefully.

A December work day could easily include a doughnut with red and green sprinkles, a few cookies, pizza and a handful of waxy Santa-shaped chocolates from the office breakroom. A few days in a row like this, and you’ll begin losing ground on your fitness goals. Treat treats as treats by indulging only in those really special holiday goodies made with love and pass on the packaged and highly processed options.

6. No wallowing allowed.

If you do your best to focus on items one through five but you overdo it at a party, move past it quickly, and re-focus on your goal. The same way one meal doesn’t make you healthy, one meal can’t give you heart disease, ruin your 5K goal, or make you gain excessive weight. It’s about a lifestyle of choices, so get back on track with the next meal or snack.

Happy holidays, and if you need support and accountability to get you through the holidays, please get in touch!


About The Author: Lauren Shafer

Lauren is a certified Health Coach who helps busy Baltimoreans articulate their health + wellness goals, and make measurable, sustainable diet and lifestyle changes for lasting transformation. Though she would never be described as athletic in her youth, Lauren started running as an adult, begrudgingly at first, until she discovered she actually enjoyed it. Now an 9-time marathoner and 3-time ultra-marathoner, you’ll frequently find Lauren running on roads and trails with her husband John and dog Osita.

To learn more about Lauren and check out her health coaching and blog, visit www.live-full.com or www.facebook.com/LiveFullBaltimore. Contact her at lauren@live-full.com.