Fitness Planning Through the Holiday Season

As the 2017 season comes to an end for many endurance athletes, it’s important for athletes, casual fitness enthusiasts, and “weekend warriors” to understand what their “off-season” goals should be. More importantly, they need to understand where to focus to be set up for an optimal 2018.

Most of us are casual fitness buffs and weekend warriors. Therefore, you’re probably asking yourself, “Why should October, November and December be any different from other months of the year?” It’s a valid question. The answers are simple: holidays. Yup. Most either love them or hate them. Regardless of how you feel about them, you can bank on one truth: they’re going to happen. Not only that, they are going to be here before you know it. As each year passes, it seems to get just a smidge shorter. I was in Costco last week and saw a Christmas display—trees, lighted moose, reindeer, nativity scenes—the works. Seeing this dazzling spectacle merely affirmed the above thought.

Notice I said, “reasons” (plural) above. The other primary reason these months should be different we call periodization. If you’re not familiar with the term, perfect. You are among the 99%. Simply put, in this context it refers to cycling through different focuses of fitness building to enhance physiological adaptation of the type of exercise we are doing.

Fitness is not tangible and the biggest gains occur during rest/recovery. Is that an excuse to sit on the couch, watching bad TV while eating Bon Bons all through the fall and winter months? Rather, the opposite. However, the focus of workload should change to maximize your time and effort and allow for you to engage in those pesky holidays without throwing your body into a whirlwind of bad habits and stunted metabolic adaptation.

Setting yourself up for a sustainable exercise plan for 2018 should be the goal. This is where most plans fail; they are not sustainable, and frankly, they weren’t designed to do be. Consider the recent trend of Low Carb, High Fat and/or Ketogenic Diets. Most will take the principles of these “diets” and implement them to extremes and decide after a limited amount of time, it’s not for them. If you take nothing else away from anything I’ve written this year, please take this: The goal of ANY fitness plan or “diet” should be sustainability, if long term-results are desired. Period.

Considering the above as it pertains to fitness programming, the following must be considered: sustainability is built by allowing for adaptation to input (stress/resistance) stimulus while keeping the host interested over time. This means we must allow the body and mind to recover in both short and long term cycles. Hence, periodization and the impending “off season.”

Most of us follow a pattern or routine that we follow at the gym. Leg day, back and arms day, cardio day, etc. The problem is the body learns to adapt to these routines and gains become less and less evident because what once required an adaptation response is now routine and the system is not stressed in a deliberate manner to achieve the desired effect. To this same end, the runner who runs four ten minute miles every time they run will not get any faster.

If you’ve any questions about the seeds I’ve (hopefully) planted, feel free to contact me at rob@triactiveendurance.com