How to Stay Consistent with Running Over the Holidays

How to Stay Consistent with Running Over the Holidays

The holidays are a busy time for everyone, even the most dedicated runner. The combination of increased time demands, travel, and diminished daylight hours makes it tricky to find time or energy to run. However, a little consistency can go a long way, both in maintaining fitness and in helping you feel good throughout the holiday season. These tips will help you stay consistent with your running during the holidays.  

Short Runs Go a Long Way

Consistency goes a long way, even when the doses are small. A 2021 review (high-level of evidence) published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research concluded that two to four sessions of 13 to 26 minutes can maintain aerobic fitness for up to 15 weeks, so long as the intensity was the same. Sure, you won’t be in peak marathon shape, but you will not have to completely rebuild from scratch. 

 In real life, this means you can maintain your hard-earned fitness during the busy six weeks from Thanksgiving to New Year, so long as you keep the intensity the same. For runners, that means at least easy run intensity. These runs do not have to be time-consuming. Even if it’s just 10-20 minutes, consistent runs go a long way. You can maintain a lot of fitness over the holidays by just getting out for two to three runs, 10-30 minutes in length.

Embrace Short Workouts

Generally, you want to make most of your runs easy. However, when you are in a short-term phase of getting in what you can, the rules of optimal performance are less applicable. If hard workouts that make you sweat in 30 minutes are what motivate you to stay consistent, then embrace them! Just be sure to warm up properly with some dynamic stretches and a few minutes of easy running first. Try one of these short and effective workouts for the holidays!

If You Can’t Run, Still Move

If you are unable to run due to location or time constraints, being active will maintain fitness. Cross-training delays fitness losses when you are unable to run. Even if you are just taking daily walks with family, movement counts! The movement does not have to be done all at once. Breaking up movement into multiple walks or short bodyweight strength sessions still confers fitness benefits. 

Embrace the Time Off

If you cannot fit in any runs or workouts, do not despair. It takes approximately two weeks of inactivity to lose significant amounts of fitness. For most runners, a short break of one to two weeks a few times per year can prevent burnout or overtraining. If you are unable to run, embrace the break as a time to refresh. 

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7 Responses

  1. Thanks, Laura, that’s a useful finding to remember: 2 -4 sessions of roughly 20 minutes can maintain aerobic fitness for up to 3 months.
    For most, the holidays last 2 weeks – so it’s very doable to maintain fitness.

  2. Its great to know that short runs can maintain fitness for so long. I am usually pretty consistent with running during the holidays. Even when we would travel I would have access to a treadmill so I could get in some runs. I like to prioritize workouts when the holidays get stressful because they make me feel better!

  3. I’m with Lisa–I like to get my runs and workouts in because they help me manage my stress! But it’s good to know that short workouts will help maintain fitness in the short term.

  4. I’ve always been good at sticking with my training through the holidays. Sometimes, I have to be flexible (like I’m not doing my long run on Christmas Saturday, thanks), but other than that, I have always been able to make it happen.

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