When the holidays hit for athletes in the middle of the season, it can feel like you will lose all of the hard work you’ve put in so far. Coaches often stress that you come back to the team in shape and ready to go. There is a lot of pressure to enjoy the holidays with family while also maintaining your level of conditioning without the same access to gyms and weight rooms.
So how do you bounce back from the holidays?
First off, holidays are a break. And a break is good for athletes who have been pushing hard for months. The body needs time to recover, and the holidays are an excellent chance to unwind and relax. And while it may feel like you’re losing all of your conditioning with every minute sat on the couch eating pumpkin pie, the reality is that you won’t lose it that quickly. If you’re only resting for a few days, up to a week, you won’t see major drops in fitness levels. So take the break and enjoy having some time off from your sport.
That said, you can do things to facilitate your return to sports once the break is over.
Move Your Body
While it is important to get some rest, light workouts can help keep your body limber and move while on holidays. Incorporating yoga, walks, easy runs, a light lift, or other forms of cross-training that you find enjoyable, is a great way to keep your body in motion without training to the max. Maybe you can get some shots up or invite a friend or relative to join you for a jog. Take ten or fifteen minutes to stretch out your muscles after sitting on planes, trains, and automobiles for travel. Plus going out for a walk after a big holiday dinner is a great way to help your body digest all that delicious food.
Fuel Up Properly
The holidays are often jam packed with festivities and food. So much food. And while it’s great to enjoy pie and cookies, try to enjoy in moderation. The biggest key, though, is that you also resume healthy eating habits when you resume training after break. You’ll need the proper fuel to jump back into a challenging training regimen. Make sure to incorporate fruits and veggies, along with sufficient protein to make sure your body has everything it needs to get back to the game.
Get Ahead of the Slog
Often the first day or two back to practice will be rough. The legs will be moving slow. The lungs may be protesting. And through it all, coach will be yelling about getting into gear. If you want to avoid this sluggishness, get ahead of the game. Ramp up your activities the day or two before you return to practice so that your body remembers what it is like to train. There is no need to go all out, but getting in a good hard workout will restart your body and make the transition easier when you’re back on the court or playing field.
Don’t Stress About the Comeback
Overall, holidays are there for you to enjoy. There is already precious little time to take away from the sport for athletes in season during the holidays. You don’t need to take up that special time with friends and family worrying about getting back to the sport. What little you lose after a break can quickly be made up in a few days of practice. Enjoy the time away from school and sports. Let your mind and body rest. Your sport will be waiting for you once the holidays wrap up.