Surviving the Festive Period

mincepieI could have picked a better month to start tracking my weight. Since my new Withings Scales arrived on the 1st I have watched my weight lurch from party to party instead of the steady downward trend I hoped to see. A sharp zig-zag from Monday peaks to Friday lows and back again with worrying indications of a subtle trend upwards over the month. Add to that the knock-on effect of Christmas excess: the days of lost training when the body – frankly – doesn’t want to play. Christmas is not the easiest time to make gains towards your goals.

Not that I’m alone. The “I wasn’t able to complete this session becauseā€¦” email is all too common. In response I offer calm words and sensible advice that I have to admit I am not always following myself.

It’s December, it’s cold, and it is months until we are aiming to be at peak fitness. In real terms the impact of an individual session is small – our goals will survive a few disruptions around Christmas. That said – and I aim this at one athlete in particular, he knows who he is – we do need to train because what we do now will affect what we can do later. Far from saying, “do what you like, it’s Christmas”, I’m offering the age grouper a buffer, room to balance their sport with the rest of their life and still achieve their goals. If we are doing everything that’s planned, fantastic, but if 90% – actually I’ll allow 75% – of the work is getting done then we are on the right track.

On balance, I feel that there is room for training, mince pies and mulled wine in my life so I need to adapt a little to ensure I stay above that 75% line. I know, for example, that there will be no quality training the day after a good night out, it makes sense to plan accordingly – these are prime recovery days, even if it isn’t training I’m recovering from. Between each evening out I try – and I’ll admit it’s getting increasingly hard – to return to normal both in training and diet. It is slowing my progress, at least over what I’d planned, but so far I’m still getting fitter and I’m not getting fatter. Fitness is surviving.

On January 2nd (there is little chance I’ll be productive on New Year’s Day) had I been more focussed I would be fitter. I will have sacrificed some of my potential progress to enjoy a few evenings out and I’ll have eaten far too much during Christmas week. It’s a choice I’ll have made in the knowledge that apart from being fun the overall impact on my season ahead will be small. I may need to tweak the timings of a few of my goals, but I can still work towards them.