5 Tips to Better Training During the Holiday Season
Do you have a tournament in early to mid January? I bet you do!
It feels so far away (I mean, it is next year), but in reality, it’s less than a month from now!
If you’ve ever trained for a tournament or any kind of sporting event, you know that the 3 weeks leading UP to the fourth week are really the most important. Unfortunately, if your tournament is in early January, this coincides with the holiday season!
Now, don't worry- I am NOT the Grinch, and I have a very reasonable approach to training during the holiday period! I don't believe that you have to cut out all socializing and festivities and be a hermit, but if you can look to “maintain” or improve your fitness over the ~2 week holiday period, it will be a LOT easier to tune up for the tournament!
Here are a few tips to keep in mind if you want (or need) to train over the holidays, that will help you be more efficient and effective with your training!
1. Focus on what YOU need to do
Keep in mind, your preparation might be different than your friend, Joe. For instance, if you’ve been training quite hard leading up to the holidays, you may want to scale it back for a week, and then look to “maintain” for the next week, by focusing on a single quality session most days.
However, if you’ve been a little hit and miss with your training for the past few weeks, this could be a good time to put in a tough, focused 2-week block. That’ll still give you a week or so to taper down in time for your tournament.
2. Plan your training around your social events
Just because you *usually* take Sundays off, doesn’t mean that you have to stick to that schedule. For instance, if you have a family get together on Christmas morning, which happens to be on a Saturday, consider taking Saturday off and training on the 26th instead.
Be willing to be flexible, and move your sessions around a little bit to accommodate family/friends events. I used to feel guilty about taking Christmas off of training if it didn’t perfectly “fit” into my training week. Over the years I’ve learned not to stress about it, and to be honest, the stress does far more harm than taking a day off will! (Hey, it could even be a GOOD thing for your body!).
3. Focus mainly on your priorities
If you’re part of the Squashletic Training Membership, you’ll know exactly what I mean when I say “priorities”. These are ~2 types of sessions/methods that address your areas of weakness, and need to be trained consistently for a given block. For instance, if you know you need to improve your strength, you’d pay extra attention towards making sure you get your strength workouts in 2x/week.
Since we can often be limited on time for training during the holidays, try to limit the number of random or “non essential” sessions, and replace them with your priority sessions. For instance, would a strength workout be more beneficial than doing another on-court drilling session? That depends on YOU and what you need to improve for your next tournament.
4. Quality > Quantity
Keep your quality of training high and impactful. (Do not confuse this with “high intensity” and “high impact”! Thats not what I’m saying here).
If you’re pressed for time, it’s better to do a high quality 45 minute session 5x/week, than do 2-3 long sessions, and then nothing for the remainder of the week.
Pro tip: schedule your training sessions AHEAD of time, so you know what you’re going to do when you go to the court or gym. This way you don’t waste any time deciding what to do, and you’ll also be more committed to your session. Even if it’s written out on the notes app of your phone, that still counts!
5. Aim to keep a relatively normal eating habits
In any holiday, food is often a large component of the festivities. However, this doesn’t need to be viewed as a negative.
Gathering to share food is deeply rooted in so many of our cultures, and just because you’re training for a tournament, you shouldn’t feel that you can’t fully partake in these social events. Instead, try to focus on including more nutrient-dense foods, rather than eliminating nutrient-poor foods.
For example, the other day I went out for brunch with my mom for the fist time in a year. I ordered a vegetarian eggs benny with a side of fruit. It was great! There were a few vegetables in the eggs benny (roasted red peppers, spinach, etc), some protein (goat’s cheese and 2 eggs), and yes- there was hollandaise sauce, and it was served on a white English muffin. So what?! Would I have this before training? Definitely not- it would be far too heavy before a training session. However, as as post-workout meal, it worked just fine, and the fruit kept this meal a little lighter than it would have been if served with potatoes.
It might not seem like much, but this simple mental shift can help you enjoy your favorite decadent foods, while also keeping your diet balanced.
Bottom line: it’s not about perfection when it comes to your diet (we’re not training for a physique competition!). If you focus on the nutrient-dense (veggies, whole grains, protein), there will naturally be less room for the nutrient-poor (cookies, etc).
Hopefully this post isn’t being written too late in the holiday season! Regardless, you can also apply these tips to a family trip or a vacation. There are always going to be life experiences that we want to partake in while training for a goal, but that doesn’t mean that one needs to suffer at the expense of the other!