Working out amid the Thanksgiving holiday

By Leah – November 4, 2011

There are actually quite a few entertaining Thanksgiving movies (Planes, Trains, and Automobiles is a well-known favorite; a couple of lesser known are the darkly funny Pieces of April and one on my list of favs, Home for the Holidays).  They all involve some aspect of traveling to be with family over Thanksgiving.  If you’ve ever done it, you know that the combo of high-stress travel, relatives, and unfamiliar routines can wreak havoc with your regular exercise.

Much of how you deal with this depends on where you are in your training cycle.  If you’re in a “down” spot, with no goal event in sight for months, now’s a great time to relax a bit and have fun with your workouts.  Hang loose; invite a relative to join you for an easy run or bike or session at the gym.  Try a new route.  Experiment with making some sort of new holiday fitness tradition.  In other words, don’t sweat the lack of routine or focus.  It’s just a couple of days.

If, however, you’re in the middle of a build or looking at your goal race as it looms from the calendar page, you may not have the luxury of letting go.  The trick becomes incorporating what it is you need to do into the fabric of the family.  The way to win support is not by demanding special considerations (“I can’t eat that!”) or monopolizing the schedule (“I’ve got to get my workout in tomorrow morning, so we can’t go to Aunt Suzie’s for pie this evening.”) but by showing that you can compromise a little in order to meet your needs.

For example, if you need to get in, oh, a 10-12 mile run in order to continue to prepare for the next AFMDC race, the Decker Challenge, you might sit down with the family a few days before you’d like to run and ask which is the better day for you to pencil in this event.  Explain how long it will take and whether or not you’ll need down-time afterwards to recover or if you’ll be good to go for any family outing.  Realistic expectations help everyone; overestimate your total run time, and let them know that you’ll get up and get off without bothering anyone.  Another approach to getting in that long run is to take the family’s annual participation in a local Turkey Trot and simply add needed mileage before or after to equal your needed total.  Let your family know what you’re doing, though, so no one gets bent out of shape about any extra waiting; you could even take multiple cars.  Just a little bit of forethought helps make your workout a pleasant experience for everyone.

Be sure you’ve brought all the gear you need on your trip.  I’ll never forget one perfect Thanksgiving morning; I was in Illinois visiting family, and it was that perfect cold crisp winter morning; I had miles of empty country road at my feet, beckoning.  I was practically salivating about my upcoming run as I dressed…only to discover that my jog bra was back in Austin and nary a sports store to be found for miles (not that one would have been open anyway). There was no Thanksgiving run for me that day, just a gentle walk.

Take a moment to think about the upcoming holiday; it’s not too early to make your Thanksgiving workout plans.  A little bit of preparation will go a long way towards satisfying your holiday goals and keeping your family happy.

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