The festive time of year can be challenging when you still have training and racing goals to meet. As everyone around you is winding down and enjoying year-end celebrations, staying on track with your fitness and training can be a challenge. Christmas parties, late nights and indulging food and alcohol can quickly impact the time and energy you put into training.
In Australia we are just beginning the summer of cycling with a solid couple of months of racing including Bay Crits, Nationals, Tour Down Under and Cadel’s Great Ocean Road Race. In the Northern Hemisphere off-season training is crucial in the lead-up to next season.
This is not the time to for you to take your eye off your goals. Here are some tips to get you through the festive season:
I treat the festive season just like any other time of year, but with a few more temptations to navigate. It’s all about moderation. You should still enjoy yourself and a few treats here and there shouldn’t be frowned upon. You don’t want to miss out on the fun to be had, but I try to minimise alcohol consumption and avoid food I wouldn’t generally eat. I usually abstain from drinking alcohol and limit my Christmas treats to Fridays only (luckily, Christmas is on Friday this year!).
Pro tip: If you are attending a Christmas function, eat before you go out so you aren’t tempted by unhealthy options.
This time of year is packed with social commitments. There are end-of-year work Christmas parties, summer BBQs, and friends and family catch-ups fill the calendar for weeks.
It is nice to catch up with work colleagues, family and friends, and reflect on the year that has been. But be mindful of the lack of sleep and rest caused by the late nights, early mornings, training and work.
I find that you can have a healthy balance by setting a time that you will leave by. This means you have the best of both worlds – you still attend the events and be social, but your early morning training session won’t be affected by a late night.
Pro tip: Set yourself a time to head home, and stick to it.
Family and friends
Share your goals and training with those closest to you. This not only allows them to be part of your journey, but it also reminds them of how important your goals are to you, and why you don’t want to finish off that bottle of wine with them when you have a five-hour session to do in the morning.
I find scheduling my catch-ups around my training helps. When I am staying with my family, I try to get my training in as early as possible. This means that I have most of the day to spend with them and they won’t feel neglected. We can make plans in the afternoon, and I will be relaxed knowing I have already done my training and the rest of the day can be relaxing.
Pro tip: Training in the morning lessens the impact on the family connections.
With most people having time off work between the Christmas and New Year period, this is usually the perfect time for a family holiday. This can be a difficult issue to negotiate with your loved ones, especially if they want to travel to an area that will make your training difficult. Again, discuss your training goals with your family so you can choose a destination that will keep everyone happy. I try to travel to an area where I will still be able to relax and unwind, but get my training in. Luckily my partner shares my cycling goals so we always choose a holiday destination based around our training.
Pro Tip: choose a holiday destination that will allow you to train, but also keep the family entertained.
With a busy schedule, it is easy to forget your regular massage/osteo/physio appointments that are essential for recovery. Busy schedules, lack of sleep, training and life means that recovery is even more important this time of year. Make sure you have some “me time”. This is time dedicated solely to you, where you can become reaquainted with your foam roller, watch some trashy TV, read that book you’ve been meaning to finish and generally just put the legs in the air. Running on empty will just lead to a burn-out, so be sure to refuel the mind to keep your goals fresh. As you have some time off work, this is the perfect time to do just that.
Pro Tip: Make sure that you have some “me time” to relax and rejuvenate.
Keep focused on your training and racing goals, and try not to allow the festive temptation to undo all the hard work you’ve done this year. Remember that you may have to make some sacrifices this time of year, but it is also a perfect time to ride your bike, ride new roads, see new things, meet new people and generally kick some racing butt!
With Bay Crits, Nationals, TDU and Cadel’s Great Ocean Road Race fast approaching, it’s time for me to turn off the computer and get to bed. 9:30 p.m. is my bedtime on a “school night”.
About the author
The tagline to Verita Stewart’s personal blog reads: “Not a professional cyclist, yet” and it’s the “yet” that’s most telling. Verita is a Melbourne-based cyclist riding for Specialized Securitor. New to the sport, she’s quickly made the jump from commuting to recreational riding to racing.
She now juggles full-time work with full-time NRS racing and hopes to make the leap to the big-leagues sometime soon. Verita is full of stories and smiles and snark – and will bring all three to you on Ella. Follow Verita on twitter and instagram and strava.