1) I’ve eaten too much, and can’t fit in my running shorts
This serious condition affects many yuletide would-be-runners. Luckily, help is at hand. Winter running leggings, as well as keeping you warmer, are more forgiving than shorts. Pop them on your wish list now. Smaller portions, smaller forks, or scribbling the name of your 2023 “A” race on the thumb-knuckle of your food shovelling hand might do the trick.
2) All my running pals are on holiday
Running pals are for life, just not at Christmas. You don’t, therefore, need to run with somebody else every day. On your solo Christmas run, having a fixed distance goal for an out-and-back loop, should help with ticking off the miles. Positive mantra about why you headed out and what you are training for should break the back of the early coldest miles. End of the year runs are also a great time for uninterrupted personal reflection. Alternatively, check out the location of your nearest group 5K Park-run.
3) It seems a little anti-social
Maybe. But so too is slipping into a food and alcohol coma on the sofa. In all seriousness, Christmas is about family, but a well-timed run might be just what you need to get your head around the importance of it. Alternatively you could invite some of your family along, turning that traditional Christmas plod into a patter. Last minute present dashes can also be completed on foot.
4) I’ll miss all the best telly
Oh no you won’t. Working backwards this December 25th: all the best stuff are on between 5-9pm. The average British family sits down to dinner at 2:45pm. At 1:20pm you can plonk the kids and relatives in front of Toy Story 3 whilst you get showered and help with final cooking. This means 12:20pm is the optimum time this Christmas Day 2017 for your sneaky hour long run. Book it in.
Mind over matter
5) I seem to always have a hangover
Tricky one. Work parties and family gatherings are often washed down with generous helpings of the inebriating stuff. If you’ve got to point five though, you must be keen on at least some running over Christmas. Alcohol doesn’t have to put all of the ho-ho-ho into festive season. Reducing alcohol intake, consuming lots of water, getting enough sleep and chugging some electrolytes will help keep you on the straight and narrow.
6) I’ll wait until New Year
Just like alcohol, running is also a mood changing drug. In a study where 30 regular runners were kept from their sport for two weeks, the effects compared to the control group ranged from depression, anxiety, confusion, over-all mood disturbance, and lower self-esteem. Who would want that kind of hang over? You are much more likely to keep a new year’s running resolution if you are already ticking over.
7) It’s so cosy and warm in here!
It always is when you’ve got the thermostat set to inferno, and the turkey in the oven. Feeling lethargic is a Christmas condition within your control. Try filling the sink with cold water and sticking you head in (this also helps if the in-laws are doing your head in). Take a good look in the bathroom mirror, asking yourself “do I still want to feel like a pig-in-blanket next June?” Anything less than a squeal, and it’s time to lace up.
Once you are out there
8) It’s so cold and miserable out here!
Okay, you’ll need more than just those running tights. For temperatures over 5C, a wicking (sweat absorbing) base layer and a windproof jacket will see you right. Ask Santa. If you really feel the cold, throw-in some press ups and star jumps before heading out. This will break-the-back of the awful warming up period. Hoods, Buff-style hats and gloves can all be adjusted or removed as you build internal heat on your run. Use shoes with decent tread if concerned about snow or ice.
9) I’m away from home and don’t know any routes
Follow your nose. (Away from the mince pies that it.) This run doesn’t have to be your longest or fastest of the year. It’s just about being consistently out there. If you want to pre-measure the distance, have a play with mapmyrun.com/routes/create/ and then export your new route to your phone or watch. The Strava App’s, “Heat Map” tool, helps you find local popular routes.
10) But a 10K won’t even make a dent on the calories I’ve piled in!
Not true. A 75kg man running 10K in 60minutes will burn around 800 calories. That’s almost three helpings of Christmas pud or ten roast potatoes. Alternatively (although not advised) you can match that calorie deficit with seven pints of Bisto vegetable gravy, or 3.5Kg of steamed broccoli or 231 Brussels sprouts. Not bad for a Christmas jog around the block. Also just remember Christmas is a time that you can relax, you don't need to count EVERY calorie.
11) No, honestly. I’ve tried Christmas running and I hate it
So running is your main form of exercise, but it’s just too cold and grey at Christmas. Time for a spot of cross-training. If your local sports centre is close, brave a jog or bike-ride to pool side. After exercising for forty-five minutes at the same intensity, swimmers were found to break down more fat during recovery compared to runners. Jump in the sauna afterwards.
Now wasn’t that better than doing your Jabba the Hutt impression in front of the telly?