Zen and the Art of Holiday Maintenance

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Ironically, the holidays can be tough on everyone. A time that is supposed to be full of good cheer, relaxation, and love can easily be replaced with stress, edginess, and anger.

Dedicated swimmers and triathletes given the nature of the sport seem to feel the stress the most. Since we are so heavily dependent upon access to a pool, a bike, and most importantly a large chunk of time to fit these pursuits into our schedule that when we travel for the holidays or family in town, our training can take a hit if not be completely sacrificed, which can be frustrating and aggravating.

I personally find that I tend to freak out when the holidays approach. My brain seems like a broken record with thoughts of “How am I going to train….next season is so close, I couldn’t possibly miss a workout…Will there be anything healthy I can eat at the party? I need to get to racing weight?….Is there a pool near there?…What about my bike fitness? My FTP is going to fall this week; I just know it.” When all this mental noise becomes too much, I have to take a deep breath, step back, and follow these few mental hacks:

  1. Prepare: If you know the dates of travel you can make the week ahead very challenging so that your week off can be spent recovering. Moreover, focus on activities that you will not be able to do during your vacation like doing two more masters classes or an extra bike ride.
  2. Plan it out: Most training however can be fit in with a few adjustments whether it be waking up earlier, cutting out superfluous Facebook activity (you can take pictures of how perfect your kids look in matching outfits later). The week leading up to travel, take a good look at your schedule and see where you can fit things in. See if there is a good pool or masters’ class near by. If you belong to a national, mega gym, look at the local locations for hours and fitness classes.
  3. Modify if need be: If you need to modify the workout then do so. You can cut down the cool down a bit or change the warm up. Try to preserve the intensity as much as possible because that is where you are going to get the most training value for your time.
  4. Swap it out: If there really is no other alternative, then replace a workout that is unfeasible (such as you cannot swim because there is no pool or the one in the hotel is the size of a kidney is heated to a balmy 40 degrees Celsius) for one that is like a 30 min run consisting of a 10min warm up, 10x1min sprints, 30s easy, and 5 min cool down (make sure you are really sprinting hard). Use your resources and get creative like resistance bands, a TRX, a door frame for chinups, or your own body weight for push-ups, including all of the wonderful and challenging varieties, and dips.
  5. Zen Out: The “perfect” training session is the one that you can do. If you cannot get in a workout, then that workout was not meant to be. You will not lose complete fitness because of it and what is replacing it, such as a family Christmas pageant, a walk in with a loved one, or helping Grandma bake her pies, are just as important if not more so. Those events you will never get back, but a swim workout will always be there when you can get to the pool.

Most importantly, enjoy this week and do not let the thoughts of what you are not doing destroy the enjoyment of what you are doing.

Train hard,
Coach Chris and Kev