Staying cycling fit over Christmas

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The festive season  is often associated with back-to-back parties, three course meals, and the mad rush to pick up all your Christmas presents in time for the 25th December – all those things don’t usually equate to being your fittest ever (maybe the last one…).

However, if you’ve got cycling goals for 2015, or you just don’t want your return to commuting to work to be overly slow, you probably don’t want to take backward steps in your riding and fitness. The good news is that though many people accept that they simply will put on a little holiday weight, or get a bit lazy, there is absolutely no reason this has to be the case.

Here’s how to keep riding and stay fit through the festivities…

1) Plan in advance

You’ve probably got a fairly good idea now when your Christmas parties are going to be, when you’ll be seeing family, and when you’re duty bound to hit the shops. With that in mind, sit down with a pen and paper (or your Google Calendar you fancy thing you…) and plan in when you’ll make some time to ride. Stick to those commitments as closely as you will all the others – the riding time is your ‘me time’ and you shouldn’t have to cancel it, the same way you wouldn’t cancel on plans you’d made with friends.

2) Ride early

There’s something about holidays that seems to make non-cyclists want to stay in bed longer than they would on a work day – I’ve no idea why (?!) – but if family or friends you are staying with are the same, the best way to get your rides in is to do it whilst they’re all snoring.

Of course, on some winter mornings, it’s icy outside – in which case I would not ever advise you get out on the tarmac…

3) Take to the turbo

The great thing about the turbo is that  you’ve no need to leave your house – you can get a good session in without anyone sending out a search party.

The other benefit is that on a turbo training you are (should be..) pedalling constantly – so a power hour on the turbo can be just as beneficial as a two hour spin. You should never get on the turbo and plan to ‘just pedal’ – as you will get bored, always have intervals planned – such as 5 x 3 minute intervals with 3 minute recoveries, or 10 x 1 minute intervals with 2 minute recoveries. For more tips on turbo training, check out this post.

4) Take the crew out for a ride

I’m lucky enough to have married my favourite cycling buddy, and if you’re in a similar situation it’s happy days and planning Christmas rides is easy. However, if your family aren’t avid cyclists, it doesn’t mean to say they won’t be interested in trying a quick spin. Many people have bikes tucked away somewhere, and if not then hiring Boris bikes always adds some novelty value.

If you’re a very regular cyclist, however, do make sure you are considerate to everyone in the groups level of fitness. Dress up warm so you can take it easy without getting cold (DO NOT moan you are getting cold from going so slow), and don’t let anyone fall behind. Make the ride fairly short, ideally with a nice coffee stop, and you may have company again.

4) Don’t go to parties hungry

The ‘don’t eat all day so the Christmas party meal doesn’t add to your calorie count’ plan is not a good one. If you arrive at a party starving hungry, you’ll basically be no fun until the food arrives, and when it does, you will probably eat twice as much. Stick to your normal eating habits during the rest of the day, and just be sensible with your party food.

There is nothing wrong with having a little of what you fancy in moderation – so have a slice of cake if you want one, just don’t eat the whole thing.

5) Fill your plate (once)

If you’re watching your weight, buffets can be a bit of a stumbling block. It’s tempting to load just a few choice items onto your plate, with all the best intentions of just having a little bit to nibble on. The result will always be a rumbling stomach, and a return to the table, and another one. You’re much better of filling your plate with what you’d consider a good, normal portion, so you’re comfortably full, and don’t need to return.

6) Glass of water between drinks

If you like to have a few drinks at a party, go for it, but exercise some moderation. The symptoms of a hangover are mostly caused by dehydration, so if you are going to get a little merry, make sure you have a big glass of water between every drink. This will not only reduce the hangover, but it will also help you keep a firm grasp upon how many drinks you’ve actually had.

7) Plan the next day

If you’ve got some cycling buddies who also want to stay on the straight and narrow during party season, make plans to ride together the morning after a party. The knowledge you need to get up and on the bike the next day should help keep your partying fun, but sensible.

Have you got any tips and tricks to add?

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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

2 Responses to Staying cycling fit over Christmas

  1. Tony Parrack 19/12/2014 at 11:17 am #

    re 5), that’s right, do skip the 2nd mince pie.

    The trouble is I go straight to the 3rd and 4th ones.

  2. Nigel Andrews 19/12/2014 at 11:56 am #

    Prefer rollers to a Turbo Trainer any day. With rollers it’s any bike just get on and ride. No pfaffin’ with assembly and dismantling.

    Bah Humbug!!! 🙂

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