The Most Dangerous Time Of The Year
You know the song. Sing along now! It’s the most wonderful time of the year, With kids jingle belling and everyone telling you be of good cheer, it’s the most wonderful time of the year!”
Second verse: “It’s the hap-happiest season of all….”
Now, sing the first verse with the lyrics being the title of this article. Hmmmm… Pretty different huh?
Yes, it’s a great season for most people. It CAN be a wonderful time of the year! But, it might not be for multisport athletes. Why? Think about it. It’s dark by 5 p.m. There are holiday snacks, candy and cookies everywhere at work. Motivation is at an all-time low. There were few races if any this year. Your key races were canceled. Much of next season is still up in the air. There’s the family stress that comes with holiday get togethers. Depression is up this time of year. Seasonal Affective Disorder I think it’s called. Oh yeah, then there’s the global pandemic.
So, is it the most wonderful time of the year or, a very dangerous time? Maybe both?
I love these weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. However, I hate feeling like I want to go to bed at 7 p.m. every night. I hate the cold. Living in Phoenix almost nine years makes it even harder. My next tri (or du) is a LONG way off. And, there’s plenty of time to get in shape and drop those holiday pounds, right? But then, you do feel a little guilty, just a little? Right?
It’s dangerous. For me it is any way and maybe for you. Being endurance athletes, we’re not considered “normal” compared to the rest of humanity. But, within the endurance sports world there are those few who thrive and are 100% motivated every single day of the winter to work out and eat clean during those snow storms. I’m not one of them and just going by percentages, neither are most of you reading this. You struggle, and I get it.
So, what do we do? Here are a few reminders. Not rocket-science, just reminders:
1. A little is WAY better than nothing.
A little. It’s OK. It’s even good. If you feel like laying on the couch, talk yourself into doing just a little. Instead of the 60 minute swim workout, just do 30. Instead of two hours on the bike trainer, just do 45 minutes. Go out for (or hit the treadmill) an easy three-mile jog vs. doing nothing. This is perhaps the most important reminder. Consistency. Be consistent with a little vs. thinking that a little isn’t much better than nothing. Wrong. It’s WAY better.
2. Workout with a friend as much as possible.
Make that appointment to meet up. Accountability. It helps a ton. There are many workouts I would have bailed on if I didn’t know a buddy would be waiting for me. Join a fitness, spin or master’s class for accountability.
3. Plan next season’s race schedule.
This can help with motivation. On my schedule is the Chattanooga 79.3 which is in May. That’s only five months out. Yikes. Better get going.
4. Get some new gear for Christmas.
This can also be motivational and keep you somewhat excited and engaged. Even a new pair of goggles puts an extra little “umph” in me for my next swim. I just got some new jammers! Yeah!
5. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
This is a real tightrope walk. Fall off the rope to the left and you feel guilty ALL the time, condemning yourself for everything that goes into your mouth and not working out more. Fall off the right and you “accidently” gain 20 lbs. and you consider walking the dog around the block and having a cookie a brick workout. Stay balanced.
6. Do things that bring you joy.
It’s a great time of the year to enjoy life, family, friends, movies, etc. What brings you joy? Seriously, name a couple of things right now (nothing to do with fitness or racing) that introduces joy into your life? Ok, now do those things.
7. Cherish family and friends.
They are often the ones who also sacrifice for you to do this endurance stuff. Thank them (see last month’s blog, Who’s Your Mickey?) Spend time with them doing what THEY like to do. Maybe, get away with them somewhere where there is no race!
8. Remember that the real danger zone only last three months – sort of.
We’re into December already. That’s the good news. The bad news is…it’s only December. But I keep counting down the weeks ‘til March 1st. There’s something about March that I love. Yes, we could have a snow storm, but it could also be 70 and sunny. It’s a transitional month telling me winter is in the rearview mirror. So, we only have, let’s see, 12 weeks. We can do this!
Hope that helps a bit. Just keep in mind that this time of year has the potential to be a bit dangerous. So, keep these reminders in your brain and keep plugging away!