The winter holidays of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years (among others) are upon us, and with them come commitments as well as time constraints that complicate the regular training routine of every athlete.
For most of us, the holiday season means two things:
#1- Extra time away from work to celebrate the holidays.
#2 - “End of the year” business responsibilities and deadlines that usually mean long hours at the office.
While the later can make even the most efficient time-managers crunched for a workout, the former offers the opportunity to both enjoy holiday gatherings and score extra training time.
With these realities in mind and the notion that seeing/feeling your hard-earned fitness slip-away over the holidays can be stress inducing, we offer the following tips to help you maximize your holiday workout time.
Hill repeats are always challenging, but during the holidays this workout can be especially useful given abbreviated training opportunities. Photo Credit Danny Munson, DMunsonPhoto.com
Strategy #1: Embrace Intensity Over Volume
Despite the prospect of time away from the office, the holidays are filled with additional commitments that can sabotage an Athletes best intentions to add volume to their winter training load.
With that in mind, we encourage our Athletes to emphasize intensity over volume, where appropriate, in their training plan.
If time is short and you have a narrow window to train, make the workout hard!
Consider doing a short warm-up while riding over to your favorite climb.
Then, bust-out a series of hill-repeats before completing your training time with steady-state endurance riding.
Another option would be to head to a sustained climb where you can ride at a fast tempo and add in a series of 20-30sec. hard accelerations to vary your speed and effort.
Return to your fast tempo following each acceleration to simulate an “under-over” type workout.
We recommend doing one acceleration every 2-4min., as terrain allows.
There are many other workout options to maximize the potency of short training sessions, but the gist of the intensity over volume mentality is this:
When volume is lacking, pour on the intensity for a hard workout in short order.
Note: Intensity can take many forms, but in this case we are referring to sub-10 minute efforts above threshold. These intervals should be difficult in nature and near maximal in output.
Riding an indoor trainer can turn a short training window into a potent workout. If boredom worries you, consider inviting teammates & friends over for a group trainer session or trying ZWIFT! Photo Credit: Brian McCulloch
#2: Embrace Indoor Training
If your holiday schedule is inundated with holiday parties, family commitments, travel, or long days at the office, we suggest embracing the stationary trainer.
Whether it is foul weather or a busy holiday schedule that has you limited, a stationary trainer can offer a great workout for a minimal investment of time.
Although boredom is the chief complaint of riding a trainer, the benefits far outweigh the challenges.
Consider catching-up on your favorite Netflix series, watching stages of a previous Tours de France on YouTube, or listening to your favorite music - extra loud - while you sweat through a great workout.
If group-style riding is more enticing to you, you could even do ZWIFT workouts utilizing a ‘smart’ trainer.
An indoor trainer allows an athlete to train when light is minimal or the weather is atrocious.
Regardless of what spurs the trainer session, a focused 45-75 minutes makes for a solid workout that can buoy your fitness during the holiday season.
Try to plan one, or more, big days of training during your holiday vacation. Whether the ride is an old favorite or a new route on unfamiliar roads, you will be happy you got out for a killer ride! Photo Credit: Danny Munson, DMunsonPhoto.com
Strategy #3: Find A Group Or Grab A Partner For A Ride
Whether you are home for the holidays or find yourself at a family members house with access to a bike, it is always a good idea to look up local cycling clubs to see what holiday rides are available.
Many local clubs host early morning rides because they, too, are trying to squeeze in a quick workout before heading over to a crazy Aunts house for a butter-bathed holiday surprise…
Whether in a group setting or with one training partner, having someone else to ride with can add the intensity, challenge, and variety needed to turn a standard ride into an awesome workout!
If you are riding with a partner, consider sprinting against each other for the city-limit signs you pass on the ride.
Or, ride in a single pace-line with one rider pulling hard for 60sec. while the other rider ‘rests’ in the slip-stream.
Take turns pulling hard on the front, then resting in the draft.
The point is this: you are not the only Athlete trying to get in a workout and balance holiday commitments. So, look up a friend, training partner, or local group to help you get out the door for a workout; you will be happy you did!
During the holidays training is likely to slip down on the priority list and that’s OK!
Being a successful Endurance Athlete is all about consistency and balance.
Because Endurance Athletes are highly committed to their training, it must be countered with proper rejuvenation, recovery, and the reinvigoration necessary to stay motivated all year long.
With that in mind, we hope these strategies, or even a holiday rest period, can help you maximize your workout time this holiday season.
We’ll leave it to you and your coach to decide whether a series of focused trainer workouts, an epic ride or two, or even some well deserved rest is the right strategy for you this holiday season.
Regardless of your holiday workout specifics, Big Wheel Coaching would like to wish you Happy Holidays!
Until Next Time, Be Safe, Train Hard, & Have Fun!
-Brian and Joy McCulloch
Big Wheel Coaching
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