Sunday, 20 December 2015

How to stay running over Christmas

Guest Blog - by Mary Jennings, ForgetTheGym

It’s easy to hibernate over Christmas and put off any exercise until New Year. So easy in fact that many of us have already replaced the running shoes with dancing shoes and have been making excuses since early December (if not before). There will always be shopping, cooking, cleaning, present wrapping, hangovers, parties and dramas that will take priority this season and most of us will convince ourselves we don’t have time for exercise.

If you are struggling to get out there but know you would feel so much better if you did get some fresh air and exercise, stop feeling guilty and decide to do something, even just something small.  If you are convincing yourself that it’s all going to be different in the New Year, remember that every day you put it off now is going to make it harder when you do eventually lace up the runners in the Spring. No matter how unfit and overfed you feel at the moment, make a little time for your fitness this December and it will help your mood, your stress levels, your confidence and your energy this Christmas.

Here are some ways to help you get motivated and inspired to get moving:

Find a partner in crime: You know how hard it is to go for a run on your own so agree to meet someone else, and insist they ignore your excuses and drag you out no matter how tired, hungover or lazy you are. Help each-other on the days when you can’t motivate yourself. Once you are 5 minutes down the road you will be delighted.

Support the GOAL Mile: No matter how unfit you think you are, you can still drag yourself around a mile this Christmas. Bring the family and walk/run your way around the 1 mile route. With over 140 events throughout the country over Christmas week, there will be local GOAL Mile close to you.

Improve your running while watching TV: Improve your running strength with these sitting room training routines which can be multitasked with baby sitting and watching TV.  Try these 1 minute and 5 minutes challenges and stay strong while you still have one eye on the Christmas movies.

Get the family involved: Running after kids on a bike, taking trips to the park, kicking a football outdoors – just move and make it fun. Running doesn’t have to be serious all the time. Have fun, run around and get the family, the dog and everyone else into the fresh air.

Be nostalgic:  Look back over your running year and write down your highlights, what worked, what didn’t and most importantly what you enjoyed most about your running in 2015. If you use a watch to track your runs, you can go wild with all your statistics now, adding up miles and speeds from the year just gone. Remember what running has done for you this year and how it has helped you in life outside of running too.

Run taller while standing still: Whether you area standing in a packed bar, or at the back of a church on Christmas day, you can still stand in good posture and practice your Chirunning posture stances. Improving technique is not just for when you are running. If you can’t hold the posture when you are standing still or walking, you most certainly won’t hold it when you are 4k into a 5k event.

parkrun : If you are lucky enough to live near Hartstown in Dublin, the enthusiastic organisers are putting on a Christmas day special parkrun. If you can’t make it for that, most of the other parkrun events around the country will be taking place too on St Stephen’s day – 5k that you can run, walk and drag the dog and the kids around too. There are over 20 now all around the country.

Set yourself a challenge:  Maybe 2016 will be the year you get faster, run longer or maybe even take the pressure off your running and enjoy it more. Get inspired by Sports Travel International for some international adventures. Your goals don’t have to be about a race either – could this be the year you finally get injury free and focus on your technique and enjoying running more. Don’t get caught up in a goal just because someone else is excited about it – it has got to be something you want to do for yourself.

Enjoy the Local Turkey Trot : From 5k Turkey Trots to Christmas Cracker Fun-runs, there are so many family fun Christmas themed runs over the holidays to drag you off your couch while help raise funds for local charities. Check out Go Run for a full listing.

Read all about it: Get inspired by other people’s stories and adventures – from biographies to running adventures there is no end to the amount of running books on the shelves this Christmas. Who knows what you might find in your Christmas stocking. The Irish Runner Yearbook has always something for everyone from newbies to elites. David Gillick’s Kitchen cookery book will inspire you to eat better into the new year, and Two Hours – The Quest to Run the Impossible marathon might make you feel like you should just pop on your runners and get out the door.  

Remember, it’s not all about the running. Fresh air therapy of any kind works wonders in these dark days. Don’t let a day go by without getting fresh air. It’s proven to help your mood, your energy, creativity and sleep in so many ways. It will also give you a little chance for well-deserved ‘me time’ over the Christmas craziness. It’s too easy to make excuses and prioritise everything else. You have to accept you will never have everything done so commit to yourself to not let the next few weeks pass you by in a haze of Christmas calories. The 2016 version of you will thank you for it. 

Guest Post by Mary Jennings, founder and running coach at ForgetTheGym and creator of The Irish Times Get Running Programmes. Mary coaches runners of all levels to enjoy running, improve technique and achieve goals they never imagined possible. Mary blogs about her own running adventures on Marathon Tourist. See ForgetTheGym for all her 2016 Running Classes, Workshops and Events. 

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