1. Any running is far better than no running. Many runners feel that if they don't have time for, say four miles, it's not worth going out the door. This is NOT true for many reasons. For one thing, most people eat more during this time of year. Every mile burns approximately 100 calories; so, even one mile will make a dent in the holiday calories. Also, as far as maintaining fitness, even a little bit will go a long way toward keeping your fitness beyond the level it will plummet to if you don't run at all. And, consider that as hectic as things are at this time of year, you might miss your running the next day. When you think about it that way, even a couple of miles over a two day period is MUCH better than none. Never miss an opportunity to run, even if it is a very short run.
2. Everyone experiences extra stress at this time of year. It's counterproductive to beat yourself up when you can't get your run in. Don't let that add to your stress. Just accept that it happened, you missed your run, and get over it. Tomorrow is another day and another opportunity.
3. If you have school age children, there will be exponentially more activities. Holiday choral and band concerts, school parties, church-related activities, etc. Accept that you can't control this. One day they will be grown. If you miss those events to run, you can't ever have them back. If your running fitness suffers a bit, you'll recover. There is always January, right? Before you know it, you'll have an empty nest and plenty of time to run.
Yes, that's right, I, the running coach, am giving you permission to miss runs and not feel guilty when your family needs you. Remember, we run to be healthier and, therefore, happier; therefore, it makes no sense to let running cause you stress.
Some of us are in the opposite situation, too. Our parents are elderly and we are, as a result, taking on added responsibilities because they need us. They won't be here forever; we don't want to look back and regret not giving them the assistance they need.
4. The very worst thing you can do is get frustrated because so many of your runs have been derailed by seasonal activities and say to yourself, "Oh well, I'll just let it go and start running again after the holidays." DON'T do this. Never do this. It's like splurging and ignoring your healthy diet for one dinner party and then saying, "Oh, well," and eating like a pig for the rest of the season. One unhealthy meal - and even a couple of splurges at parties - won't kill you, but you never want to throw caution to the wind for the whole holiday season. The same is true of running. Never just say, "My running training is a lost cause for the time being; I'll start over in January." If you do that, you will suffer later, and you will be extremely disappointed when you resume training because your fitness level will be so deteriorated.
5. Run as much as you can. Stick to your schedule as much as you can. If you only get in half as many miles as prescribed in your schedule, well, maybe your schedule was a bit optimistic. That's likely; most runners are incredibly optimistic people, and that's a good thing, but don't let that schedule make you feel like a failure when you can't live up to it.
6. If you have kids and they are out of school, think of some activities they will enjoy, say hula hooping or jumping rope. Now, don't jump into this overnight; you might get injured, but if you start with just a little bit, it might be a type of training that the kids would enjoy doing with you. Another option, always, is bike riding. Maybe the kids can ride along with you while you run. Here is a thought: Make a schedule and put it on the refrigerator. Log in every mile you run and every mile your kids bike. Then plan some kind of reward for the one that gets the most miles in by the time the holidays are over.
7. If your kids are at the age when they are able to shop alone but need you to carry them to the mall - or wherever - while they are shopping, you should run in the outside vicinity or walk around the open space in the center of the mall. It's 100 calories per mile, even walking, and you will work some different muscles, too. Think of it as cross training.
8. Register for a January race; then you'll feel like you have to get in whatever miles you can.
9. Do a jingle bell race, one with a kids run. These are great fun for all. Many runners are likely to have on holiday socks, antlers, santa hats, etc. Try starting a tradition of doing this every year.
I hope these ideas help you enjoy your holidays. Remember, running should enhance every other part of your life. Never let it add stress. That just doesn't even make sense because running is something we choose to do because of all the ways it benefits us. Don't let the holidays cause you to lose your running mojo.