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Training Tips for the Holiday Season

Chances are, the winter holidays are one of your favorite times of year. From the Thanksgiving feast to Christmas gift giving, there’s a lot to love about the holiday season. However, some runners may struggle with the holiday season, as the festivities and winter weather can make it more difficult to stick to a normal training schedule. With the right mindset and some careful planning, you can maintain your running during the holiday season. These holiday training tips will guide you through balancing the festivities and busyness of the season while still getting your runs in.

Embrace the Morning Run

One common obstacle to running during the holidays is how busy the afternoons and evenings can be. Between holiday events and gift shopping, you may spend most evenings too busy to run. That’s not to mention that the holidays can mean extra treats throughout the work day. You might not want to go for a run after indulging in some holiday cookies or eggnog.

The solution to this obstacle is easy: run early in the morning, before the busyness of the day catches up with you.

Winter mornings can be dark and cold, so prepare accordingly on your runs. Wear reflective clothing and gear and carry a light for visibility. Run along familiar routes and always run against traffic or on the sidewalk. It may be unpleasant at first to run first thing in the morning, but you will start your day feeling accomplished that your run is done.

Prioritize Hydration

Holiday celebrations mean indulging in a glass or two of wine, beer, or other alcoholic beverage. However, alcohol can be dehydrating – which means even if you are not hungover, your morning run may suffer. You don’t have to skip the alcohol altogether; by drinking one large glass of water for every alcoholic beverage, you can counter the dehydrating effects of your favorite drink.

Eat your Daily Greens

The holidays are filled with indulgent foods, from pumpkin pie and buttery mashed potatoes to glazed ham and Christmas cookies. While there’s nothing wrong with indulging in your favorite treats during the holidays, it can be easy to overeat with all the holiday parties between Thanksgiving and New Year. Overindulging in these rich foods can leave you feeling sluggish on your runs – not to mention cause a bit of holiday weight gain.

You don’t want to skip out on the holiday parties or give up your favorite holiday foods. Instead of restricting certain foods, focus on your overall nutrition. Aim to eat your five to eight daily servings of vegetables and fruits, including leafy greens, each day. Not only will these daily vegetables and fruits fill you up so you do not overeat the more indulgent foods, but the vitamins and minerals will help you feel your best.

Opt for Short and Effective Workouts

Many runners tend to think that longer equates to better, which is simply not true – especially during the holiday season. A short run will still provide you with a good workout that maintains your hard-earned running fitness, manages weight, and provides you with mood-boosting benefits during the cold and dark of winter.

Rather than going longer, consider going faster. Running fast, even if just for a short amount of time, will improve your aerobic capacity, develop your fast-twitch muscles, and boost our metabolism. Try one of these 30 minutes or less workouts for a challenging run in a short amount of time:

Faster as You Go Fartlek

30 Minute Hill Pyramid Workout

Hard-Steady-Hard Run

Short and Fast Fartlek

Always remember that something is better than nothing. Even if you only ran for 20 minutes, that’s still 20 minutes of heart-pumping exercise!

Have a Plan

The reason that a training plan works so well in preparing you for a race is that it removes the guesswork. You do not have to wonder what your workout will be that day – you just go out and do your planned speed workout or long run. When you do not have a training plan, skipping a run can become easier.

You do not need a race on the horizon to have a training plan – nor does a training plan require you to run hard intervals and tiring long runs. By simply writing out your workouts at the start of the week or month, you remove the guesswork and hold yourself accountable. Tailor your plan at the start of each week to your schedule, so that you don’t miss a run due to a holiday party at work.

You can work with a running coach for extra accountability and guidance or you can develop your own plan. Since most runners are not training for races through the holidays, aim to include three to five days of running, with one slightly longer run, and two days of strength training and/or cross-training. This sample plan includes four days of running and two days of cross training, plus one day of active rest that includes a walk or yoga. .

Monday: 30-45 minute run

Tuesday: 20-30 minutes aerobic cross-training and 30 minutes strength training

Wednesday: 30-45 minute run

Thursday: 20-30 minutes aerobic cross-training and 30 minutes strength training

Friday: 30-45 minute run

Saturday: 60 minute run

Sunday: Active rest day

Find a Running Buddy

The cold, the snow, the sluggish feeling from too much food and drink the night before – excuses for skipping a workout abound during the winter holidays. A running buddy will keep you accountable and provide motivation. You will not want to skip out on a friend and knowing you have company for your run will make the cold temperatures feel less brutal. We all know how much faster the miles pass by with a friend!

Most of all, enjoy the holidays! One missed run here or there won’t undo your months of consistent running and one run isn’t worth missing out on all the fun of the season.




Laura Norris

About the author:
Laura Norris

Laura Norris is a certified running coach, distance runner, and blogger over at This Runner's Recipes. She loves helping runners achieve their personal best through providing useful, well-researched information on running and nutrition. Beyond running, Laura enjoys craft beer, hiking with her husband and dog, and cooking.



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