If there was ever an excuse to take a break from a strict nutrition or training regimen, it is most certainly the five weeks that make up the holiday season. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years all crammed packed at the end of the year, each one offering up its own siren-like song of high calorie food, frantic schedules, and booze (yes I'm talking to you Seasonal Ales) that can lure even the most adherent athlete right off the tracks.
Right now there are about six months left for you to train before the climbing season begins. For all of you who are waiting to cash in on New Year's resolutions to begin training, the number of months is reduced to five. Factor in about a month of actually developing the habit of training and eating right, and you are down to four months of consistent training. So you can start to see the benefits of using the remaining weeks of this year to keep working toward your goals.
Here are some tips for integrating your training into the holiday season, so that come next summer you can't blame Aunt Edna and her killer pie for why you can't make it to Camp Muir.
Where Ever you Go...Bring Your Gear
After beginning my training last fall, I developed a habit that has stuck with me long after my climb. Included in my suitcase every time I travel are my running shoes and comfortable work out clothing. I enjoy getting out and running in new places. Often times gyms will allow you to get a "Free Trial" pass and use their facilities for a day, or pay a small day user fee. At the very least breaking out on your own for a run or a hike is a great way to kill holiday stress and avoid "quality family time" burn-out.
Hey--it all adds up.
Find yourself running up and down the basement stairs 800 times gathering holiday decorations? Strap on a pack and your boots and bust a sweat while getting tangled in tinsel. Believe it or not, a lot of the extra chores you will find yourself doing during the holidays burn a lot of calories. So step it up and offer to do as much as you can around the house (Think shoveling the walk, not mashed potatoes into your mouth). Who knows, maybe things will get done in time for you to take off on the trails for a few hours.
Drink, Drank, Flunk
Eggnog is not part of the program, I don't care what program you are on. Booze packs on a ton of calories, but more important for training, drinking alcohol in excess (as we tend to do during the holidays) will leave you feeling sluggish and dehydrated and not wanting to get out and run/hike/bike/ski or really anything that does not include trashy daytime tv and greasy breakfast items. Eliminate hangover days, and you will have that many more days to train. That being said, it is the holiday season--a time when old friends and family get together and reminisce, so to prepare yourself for what could be a few long nights with a few drinks, pick selected occasions where you will be drinking, and cut it out all together on the other days. Another angle is to simply imbibe with abandon and train anyway. This is great for those who want to know what climbing at altitude might feel like (yes, kind of like wanting to hurl), or how your body performs when exhausted ; ).
There is no way to undo months of training with a few days of excess. But particularly if you haven't begun to train, look at these next few weeks as the perfect start to your challenge. I mean if you can refuse a second piece of pie, then surely you have the willpower to get up Rainier.