By Joel Strickland, Rev3 Ambassador Team Member
This is my favorite time of the year. I love the six weeks that start with Thanksgiving and end with New Year’s. The family time, the holiday cookies, the decorations, the craziness of going to the mall shopping for holiday presents, the cookies, turkey and dressing, apple pie, watching Rudolph on DVR, pumpkin pie, cookies, mashed potatoes, cookies, candy, libations, cookies……see a trend? Many of us enjoy this time of year because our stomachs seem to be really happy.
Did you realize, though, that with all the holiday parties and feasts (and, yes, cookies) comes a mountain of calories? The average American will consume almost 4500 calories on Thanksgiving Day alone. ‘Tis the season…..to get fat. Exacerbating the situation, of course, is that triathlon season is over and most of us aren’t doing any structured training.
Therein lies the problem. It is so dang easy for us to fall out of our habit of purposeful exercising during this busy time of year.
The reality, though, is that many of us have already planned out our 2016 race schedule. I’m planning a big year for next year, culminating with an iron-distance race. As such, I can’t afford to fully become a sloth during the holidays. I’d bet that no matter what your race plans for next year, you can’t afford to become a sloth, either.
So how am I going to keep active, training, and in shape without setting myself up to burn out in March?
I’ve found that having a plethora of different training activities and types in my toolbox is key to being successful at keeping me motivated to exercise this time of year. That way, I can sort of pick and choose what type of activity to do in any given week. I’ll stay active, maintain a level of fitness, and do some activities that I normally don’t do during triathlon season.
Bearing in mind that I live in Florida, and not in a place that benefits from lots of winter weather, here’s a sampling of some of the things that are in my offseason training “toolbox”:
- EMOM’s: I’m not a CrossFit devotee, but I really like the concept of EMOM’s (Every Minute on a Minute) circuits. I tend to group five different exercises and do a set number of repeats. For example, one of my recent EMOM sets has been (a) 40 squats (b) 40 mountain climbers (c) 30 box jumps (d) 15 lunges each leg and (3) 25 heel raises each leg. The number of reps for each exercise aren’t too crazy and typically allow some rest interval before moving to the next exercise. I have been doing 3 sets (following a thorough warm-up), but you can do any number that you’d like.
- Swim Drills: Let’s face it…during the season, many of us hit the pool and focus on yardage. We don’t often focus on making our stroke better. I’ll spend a significant amount of time working on my stroke between now and January. Great drills: high elbow drill, catch-up swimming, fist swimming, sculling, working on body positioning, sighting practice. All this drill work won’t make it seem like you’re doing a lot of swimming, but the dividends will be huge next summer.
- Ultimate Frisbee: I love tossing a disk around, and combining that with some running is even better. I’ll grab a group together and find an empty football or soccer field and get a good game of Ultimate going. You’ll do a lot of running, some sprinting, and you can enjoy a beer afterwards!
- Weights: Generally, I don’t hit the gym and start trying to max out my bench press or anything. That being said, I do think it makes sense to do some sort of weight training – even if it’s just body weight lifting (push-ups, dips, etc). My approach in the weight room tends to be lighter weights and higher reps – focusing on upper body, back and core. You generally won’t find me doing leg exercises like leg curls or leg extensions – instead, I’ll work on lunges, squats, and similar exercises using body weight primarily.
- Fun Runs: This is the time of year for Turkey Trots, Jingle Bell runs and New Year’s dashes. I like to go and do these for fun – not really racing, but using the time to have fun, talk to people and just be outside
I do have one standing workout that I have done every Christmas Eve for the last five or six years: The TriMadness Swim ‘Till Your Arms Fall-Off Challenge. This workout started as a way to ensure my swimmer-son would be able to sleep a full night on Christmas Eve, but now has become a fun tradition for me.
This time of year is often really fun, festive, and memorable for lots of us. We should all use this time to recharge our triathlon engines – but not at the sacrifice of our overall fitness. Hopefully, some of these ideas will give you the motivation to get out there and stay active, try some new things, and have fun, all the while maintaining your overall fitness and setting yourself up for an awesome 2016 season!
Joel is a former world class blog writer who dabbles in triathlon. He has been a part of the Rev3 Ambassador Team since 2010. He spends his days toiling away at a huge global corporation but spends most of his time watching one of his three kids’ sporting events. Joel is a Floridian by choice, a Tar Heel by birth, and a movie addict. He lives in northeast Florida with his wife, kids and two dogs.