Here’s how to avoid falling off the workout wagon in the silly season.
Olivia asks: I love running, but when the holidays hit, my motivation to log kilometres drops. What can I do to inspire myself to run throughout the holidays?
The holidays are a busy time between work, family, shopping and parties. It is easy to understand why many people struggle to keep up a consistent routine. Here are six strategies to keep you motivated this year:
Set microgoals. Break your season up into individual weeks, and every Sunday or Monday, set a realistic workout goal for the next seven days based on what is going on in your life. In the Holiday Challenge, we do this by posting a target number of workout KMs or minutes we think we can achieve. Some weeks allow for more activity than others, but the key is in maintaining your momentum by starting with a clean slate each week, tailoring your goals to what is possible, and working with the flow of your life.
Be accountable. Once you set your weekly goal, you’re more likely to keep it if you create a source of accountability. That could mean publicly stating your weekly workout goal on social media, posting it at your desk at work or on the fridge, or connecting with a buddy. Create a way you can both keep track of your progress and be accountable to your goals.
Get social. If you do better when running or working out with others, commit to a class, run with a group once a week, or invite a buddy on a weekly holiday series of runs. If you don’t have access to live social groups, use apps like Strava to connect to active runners online. Running with others can be a source of accountability as well as an inspiration to run longer and harder.
Mix it up. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. The same is true for your running routine. This is a great time of year to mix things up: add a class, cross-train, or change up your runs. By performing workouts your body isn’t used to, you’ll burn more kilojoules and develop new skills and neural pathways.
Aim for shorter, higher intensity workouts. One fun way to maintain your fitness and mojo is to cut the number of workouts per week, shorten the time, and push harder with a high-intensity interval workout. One study showed that 2.5 hours of sprint interval training per week produced similar biomechanical muscle changes to 10.5 hours of endurance training with similar endurance performance benefits. By sprinkling in one or two short, hard efforts per week, you can maintain your fitness during a busy time of year, boost your metabolism, and add a sense of fun to keep things fresh.
You’ll be surprised at just how little you need to change to maintain your motivation to move. The key is to set yourself up for success with short-term goals and keep things fresh. Happy holidays.