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How to Train During the Holidays: Running Plan

Salt Lake City Marathon runners

Running Training Plan: 10 Tips

Training for a long-distance run is critical. You can't just tackle 13.1 or 26.2 miles without any practice—you have to work up and build a base by walking and running for months ahead of a half or full marathon.

Sticking to that training regimen over the holidays is particularly hard, though. Regular festivities, hearty feasts, and cold weather can sap the motivation of even the most dedicated runner. But if you develop a sound plan before the holidays start, it's easier to stick to your guns and achieve your goal of running a long-distance race.

1. Find a running buddy.

Pairing up with a friend who shares your running goal is the easiest way to stay accountable. It can also have the added benefit of making your runs more fun, widening your social circle, who doesn't want to celebrate with a friend after crossing that 13.1-mile or 26.2-mile finish line?

2. Establish a plan.

Don't try to bite off more miles than you can chew, especially at the beginning. Running experts usually recommend marathon plans that take three to four weeks to build up to 10-mile runs. Shorter races will require easier benchmarks. University of Utah Health's Running Clinic can help everyone from recreational to competitive runners bump up mileage, prevent injury, or aid in recovery.

3. Stay hydrated.

Running in the winter doesn't lead to nearly the level of dehydration as running in the summer. That leads many runners to not properly hydrate before, during, or after their runs. However, just because it's cold and dry, your body still needs proper fluids, so drink plenty of water before you head out and after you get home.

4. Run in the afternoon.

Around the holidays, it's significantly colder in the morning — even on relatively temperate days. Take advantage of warm temperatures and more sunshine by scheduling your run in the mid-afternoon if possible. If you can't swing that during the work week, be sure to block out time on Saturday and Sunday for mid-day runs.

5. Don't wear too many layers.

Stepping outside for a run, it might feel quite cold, leading you to put on several layers. But as soon as your body starts moving, it's easy to overheat. Consider a breathable base layer that will allow you to sweat while retaining body heat, and don't forget to shed that sweaty layer when you get home.

6. If it's a snowy day, consider an indoor workout like stationary bike.

Even a small amount of ice or snow can lead to treacherous running conditions. If winter precipitation is in the forecast, consider an indoor workout on a treadmill, stair machine, or stationary bike. Then wait for the snow or ice to melt before hitting the pavement or trail again.

7. Make sure you eat right after your workout.

Providing your body with the fuel to recover from a run or other workout is important. It's important to eat a healthy snack within a 30-minute window of a run — don't wait until dinner. And if you work out longer than expected or log more miles than you planned, indulge with a holiday cookie.

8. Moderate your food and drink intake.

We all know how enticing those holiday feasts can be. But instead of indulging in one sitting, consider breaking big meals up into smaller portions to allow your body time to rest and digest before running. If you do drink alcohol, do so in moderation, too—nothing can disrupt a holiday training plan more than a hangover.

9. If you get time off from work, build a workout in before brunch.

It's easy to treat holidays off from work as free time, or to commit to back-to-back family events. Make sure you carve out time for yourself and your training plan, though—mid-morning works great to put a fresh spin on the day and get a workout in before a big meal or family outing.

10. If you do experience an injury, visit our Orthopaedic Injury Clinic.

Whether it's a twisted ankle or a fractured bone, the specialists at our Orthopaedic Injury Clinic can help. With walk-in appointments and convenient after-school, post-work, and weekend hours, our orthopaedic experts provide low-cost care with short wait times