Holiday happiness for the triathlete

By Marty Gaal, CSCS, USA Triathlon Coach | Dec. 05, 2019, 2:16 p.m. (ET)

man running on park path in snow

It is easy to grow complacent during the holiday season. Family and friends are visiting, everyone's telling stories about the good old days, and food and goodies are plentiful. It's easy to justify being too busy to keep up with all your training, and you'll get back into the swing of things when the new year comes around.

Ten or fifteen pounds later, you ask yourself why you didn't keep up with the training, and OMG you feel so out of shape.

Here's your message for today: Where there's a will, there's a way.
(I'm a poet, now ya know it).

You can afford to ease off the throttle, and tone down your training efforts. But as many of us have learned from experience, it is harder and harder every year to keep the weight and fitness stabilized as the exercise volume goes down while the consumption volume goes up. 

So do yourself a favor, and stick to some basic good habits through the season.

Don't be a glutton

You know the difference between a minor indulgence and pigging out. Sitting down for Thanksgiving dinner isn't a license to stuff your face with every goodie imaginable. Enjoy yourself but be reasonable with your portion control. 

Learn to say no

You don't have to sample every plate, or imbibe every offered drink, or even meet every third uncle from out of town at the tavern. You are in control of yourself and your choices. Saying no isn't rude, or distressing, or anyone else's business. 

Make time for yourself 

This is my secret to sanity. When surrounded by lots of people, various activities, and out of town events, I just wander off and do my own thing for a while. That usually consists of a workout and the occasional visit to a coffee shop to just get some alone time. People can function without you around for a few hours.

Stick to a daily routine

If you typically work out first thing in the morning, just roll right through on that. Christmas morning with little kids might be an exception, but otherwise a holiday is just another day with a label attached to it. Your local pool might be closed, but your garage and bike trainer are open for business.

Train your family and friends

You don't have to be militant about it, but people can and will encroach on your time and energy. Not everyone gets it about training for an upcoming -insert tough athletic event here-. Help them help you with clear parameters about what you need to do in order to not become a screaming, miserable wreck by the end of the visit. For me, it's an hour of fresh air and exercise. And a nap.

Be nice

None of the above is meant to promote selfishness. What we're aiming at is finding the balance between being a good host or guest, and keeping your long term athletic goals alive and well. When you're with family and friends, be present in the moment and enjoy everything. When you're running down the trail, do the same. 

Sign up for a Tacky Light Run (or any other holiday event)

This one's a no-brainer. The more you plan to eat, the longer you should run. :)

Happy holidays!

Marty Gaal is the co-owner and founder of One Step Beyond (OSB). Along with Coaches Bri Gaal and Daniel Scagnelli, he has competed in numerous long distance triathlons, swims, and running events.