The holiday season can be a stressful time of year for a variety of reasons. Add in the stress of managing your training and nutrition, and frankly, it can all be overwhelming. Don’t worry, here are some tips to help you manage your training throughout the holidays. 

For more information on training check out Ask a Cycling Coach Ep 238.

1. Mentally Reframe the Season

What you do between New Year’s and the holidays is more important than what you do during the holiday season. Remember that this time of year is only a small part of the bigger picture. The holidays are stressful enough—no need to add to it by worrying about your training. 

Consistency is the key to continued growth. Being consistent the other ten months out of the year will bring more fitness gains than what you do during the holidays. So if your training plan goes a little sideways during the holidays, it’s okay to show yourself compassion and get back to it again when you can.

2. Don’t Stress Over A Missed Workout

During busy times, missing a workout happens—sometimes more than a few. During the holidays, work and family commitments can leave little time or energy for training. But you don’t need to worry because the fitness you’ve worked hard for will stay around. 

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Training adaptations fade at different rates. Your aerobic base lasts much longer than specific high-power abilities. In general, if it develops quickly, it tends to dissipate quickly. Aerobic base fitness takes about 25-35 days before you’ll see a decline, and it doesn’t take much to touch it up. Just a 90-minute trainer ride like Baxter is enough. Your anaerobic power fades after about 15 days and sprint power in a handful of days. Chances are you probably don’t need high-power abilities right now anyway, so missing a few workouts won’t set you back. 

3. Avoid Over Doing It

Instead of having less time to train, some athletes find they have extra time. If you do have more time, our first suggestion would be to double down on recovery. This could mean spending more time addressing sleep, stretching, or other recovery activities. 

If you want to ride more, adding low-intensity, endurance rides are an excellent way to take advantage of your extra time. This is especially true if you follow a TrainerRoad training plan because it includes the intensity you need. 

4. Nourish and Enjoy

Your body needs fuel. But more than that, food is one of life’s great pleasures and enjoyment—especially during the holidays. It’s okay to partake in enjoyable treats without feeling guilty. Remember, the food choices you make the rest of the year are more important. 

With that in mind, fuel your training. Dieting during your workouts will only hamper your hard work. Not only will you feel better during the workout, but you’ll have more energy for other commitments afterward. Your body is pretty amazing at keeping you alive, and it merits nourishment and enjoyment. 

5. Take Time for Yourself

For many, guilt plays a massive role during the holidays. Spending time training instead of with the family can be a primary source of it. But it’s important to remember that going for a ride is a way to relieve stress for many.  

You can battle the guilty feeling by remembering that relieving stress is healthy. It can recharge you mentally, which will help you deal with everything else going on. Even during busy times, it’s good to take some time for yourself. 

For more cycling training knowledge, listen to Ask a Cycling Coach — the only podcast dedicated to making you a faster cyclist. New episodes are released weekly.

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Jesse Fortson

Jesse Fortson lost over 145 pounds with TrainerRoad's help. He uses his experience as a teacher and race mechanic to get faster for crits, gravel, and marathon XCO races.