Advice

Christmas Festivities Survival Guide

Nov 26, 2014

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So you have already put in a great autumn and winter of training as you build towards your 2015 goals. But there is a problem.  The festive excess is about to put a road block in your way.  Never fear, here is our survival guide on how to beat it.

Work parties, family gatherings and the usual ‘I will meet my mates for a pint’ scenario will soon be played out in the weeks leading up to Christmas and the New Year.   All of this puts a strain on our routine and how we approach training. In our normal day to day lifestyle we all have the occasional bad day when we eat a takeaway, have 3 glasses of wine with dinner instead of one or raiding the kids sweetie cupboards to get a sugar fix. We have all done it and something our bodies and training can accommodate. But what we can’t handle is 3-4 weeks of excess were we over indulge at every given opportunity with the philosophy of ‘I will go back to the routine in the new year’. This attitude will do you no favours in January and February as you start to undo all the damage of Christmas excess.

Don’t worry we are not all party poopers here at Dig Deep Coaching which is the reason we have given you an essential survival guide which should be your saviour over the festive period.Christmas_Partying.jpg

Be Flexible

The December period can be a miss mash of late nights, change in work times, holiday’s etc. which all affect your set training routine, there is no point in fighting the change in routine to an extent and just accept that there will be interruptions to your training.  So what to do?

  • Refrain from the all or nothing physiology to training. If you had 1hr 30min planned on your turbo this evening but can’t fit in the particular session don’t just bin the training, adapt. Make it into a 45min session, perhaps make it a more intense session so to maintain the training stimulus or if you can’t get on the bike how about a core/strength routine you can do at home. Something is better than nothing.
  • Organize your diary as good as possible, forward planning of your lifestyle will never be as critical when finding that spare hour or two than it is over the festive the period. Be prepared to adapt the type of training you had planned to different sessions, i.e. perhaps you had a 3hr group ride planned at the weekend but now you can’t find the time. Have a backup plan of 1hr intense sessions on the road or turbo all set out for this occasion, you might not build your base aerobic fitness that day but you have just worked on your sprint power or hill repeats. It’s all progress.
  • Don’t beat yourself up because you failed to complete the planned session set out in your training.  You made the most of the time you had available to train and still enjoyed the party/dinner with friends and family all in the knowledge you burned a few calories so you can enjoy that extra bit of cake!

 

Beat the Bulge

Christmas is known for its ability to add a few kilo’s to the body if you are not careful, sometimes people just accept the fact that it will happen while others try their best to avoid this it all costs.  Our philosophy is ‘damage limitation’, we have to remember that it is a long season, you have been working hard over the past months and we all need a break now and again. Let’s not forget it is about having a good time and making the most of the festive period, but you still don’t want to undo all your hard work nor add to your workload come the new year to lose that extra few kilo’s gained.

  • Make your ‘good’ days really good. What I mean by this is when you are in control of your food choices and not in the party/festive mode try your best to make the right choices at every given opportunity. Perhaps in the past your normal day is made up of 70-80% good food choices day to day with the odd ‘treat’ here and there, what I want you to do is make sure you increase the quality of nutrition intake to 90% per day. This means we start to balance out good nutrition days to really good nutrition days so once we come to the office party or Christmas diner we are safe in the knowledge we have eaten as good as possible prior to this.
  • Never go hungry to a party, ever! We have all done it, the mind-set that we will reduce our calorie intake during the day thinking we will keep those calories banked for the evening feast. What actually happens is that you arrive at the party/diner starving with little ability to resist poor nutrition choices and then consume the calories you avoided in the day with low quality food choices. So not only have you consumed more calories but you have not had quality essential nutrients.  Stop the grazing on crisps, chocolate, sweets and pies by snacking on good food during the day. Nuts, fruit, natural yogurt, olives etc. are all personal favourites and this quality grazing will stem off the hunger pangs come party time.  
  • Alcohol. We probably consume more alcohol over the Christmas week than what we do in the past months all together, for some people anyway! This can not only be a shock to the body and how it deals with toxins but it also can lead to a great reduction in our immune systems and how we fend off colds and flus which are notorious over the festive period as we become in contact with more people than normal. How our bodies flush out the toxins given to us from alcohol is something we can help control by one simple process, drinking water. To help maintain a good body function, keep us hydrated and maintain a balance in our ability to flush out toxins given to us by excess alcohol is by consuming water between drinks. This will not only help you resist reaching for that extra glass of wine or beer (that is full of empty calories) but it will also help you balance your body’s function. Increase alcohol intake also lowers our ability in making proper food choices and raises our appetite, all this leads to a circle of grazing on poor food choices and consuming empty calories via excess alcohol.

 

How to Maximise Free Time

For those of you that have more free time over the Christmas period it can be a great opportunity to maximise the extra time available as you build towards 2015. Within this free time available there is the added challenge of how best to use the time to make it beneficial.

  • Avoid the temptation to use every spare hour each day to add on to your training schedule.  This can have a detrimental effect on overall progress rather than positive. Why is this? Well for example, if you have been consistently completing 8-10hrs training a week with weekend rides of 3hrs and suddenly we add on 8-10hrs on top of this during the week you can see that it will be a bit of a shock to the body. We have seen athletes in the past really pile on the volume excessively over a period of 10 days to 2 weeks were they perform individual sessions and weekly routines to a higher level than what their body is fit enough to handle. This is not to say you avoid increasing volume but do so in a manner that you maintain the quality of the ride and it does not lead to a long term fatigue post-Christmas that prohibits you from training constructively in the early January period. Increasing individual rides but have an extra rest day between might assist with this or avoid 3 days back to back of excessive volume. It really depends on your adaptions and fitness before the festive period but avoid the ‘cramming’ style of training.
  • Another observation we have seen from athletes who have the ability to increase their training volume is the tendency to lose a bit of the sharpness or top end fitness built in the previous months. If you are limited to time in your regular routine and doing shorter sessions, i.e. turbo workouts, these will consist of high intensity intervals perhaps and this will be greatly reduced once you focus on the volume. We understand you must utilise the extra hours to the max before the regular routine kicks in again come New Year but we would advise to maintain your top end work rather than progressing it. By this we mean maintaining small but regular levels of intensity that can keep the progress you have made in these areas over the past months but also make sure you have enough energy and ability to increase the volume. Doing this will perhaps not build your top end fitness but just help keep it at a level you had pre-Christmas before building this again come January.

We hope this helps you enjoy and progress over the festive period in which you enhance your cycling along with spending time with family and friends without losing the progress made to date. Cycling is about enjoyment, the festive period is about enjoyment, I hope you have the best of both worlds.

Stephen 



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