An IRONMAN's Guide to Surviving the Holidays

winter training

Who says swimming, cycling and running have to be replaced by binge eating, arguing with your family and Hallmark movie marathons on the couch? 

We're not saying forgo these holiday traditions (except for maybe the arguing part), but it can be a tricky balance between keeping up with your triathlon training schedule while partaking in holiday festivities. All your grandma's baked goodies coupled with terrible weather and seemingly endless travel can derail even the most dedicated triathlete. 

Don't go it alone—here are 30 quick survival and etiquette tips for a triathlete braving the holiday season.

  1. Use the two-for-one rule when drinking alcohol (two glasses of water per drink), and keep beverages with a high calorie count to a minimum. 
  2. Just because you're sitting through a holiday movie marathon doesn't mean it can't be productive. Grab a foam roller and get to work. 
  3. Eat one cookie, not 10. 
  4. Nod and agree when your aunt compares your IRONMAN to your cousin's color run. 
  5. Don't wear your dirty workout clothes to a family gathering, even if you're planning on running afterwards. 
  6. Most airlines charge a flat fee when checking a bike. If there's extra room in your bike case, load it up with clothes or gear to save on checking additional luggage. 
  7. Like on race day, create a checklist for all the training gear you'll need as you travel. Keep your destination's weather in mind. 
  8. Be modest with your compression garments.  
  9. They may be covered in ranch dressing or bacon grease, but load up on the greener options on the table if possible. 
  10. Besides your workout, don't forget to move. Stand up, wrestle with your nephew, do a few jumping jacks in the backyard—whatever gets your blood flowing will work. 
  11. Kit up for your ride in the garage. It's not worth the heckling from those not used to seeing you in spandex. 
  12. Don't let your somewhat athletic family member take your race bike for a spin. It's not designed to launch off curbs or bunny hop a pile of leaves. 
  13. Bring your triathlon bag as a carry-on. If the airline loses your checked bag, at least you can still train. 
  14. Drink a glass of water or eat a healthy snack before the big feast to prevent overeating.  
  15. Tell your coach your holiday plans so he or she can adjust your training schedule. Keep them in the loop if anything changes.
  16. Check in with nearby triathlon groups, and ask them for training routes and pool facilities before you arrive at your destination. 
  17. If it's your turn to host and cook, use these healthy ingredient swaps. Nobody will be the wiser. 
  18. Pick your favorite dessert and enjoy, but don't sample everything.
  19. If your family has a day full of activities planned, set your alarm and wake up early to squeeze in a workout. 
  20. Hit the local grocery store, and load up on training essentials. Use the outside fridge to keep them separate.
  21. Embrace the heckling. From the outside looking in, a casual 60-mile training ride followed by an organic protein shake is weird.
  22. Just because you love getting running shoes and chain lube for Christmas doesn't mean your family does. 
  23. Don't go for performance gains during the holiday season—just try to maintain your current level of fitness.
  24. Dust off your family member's old treadmill that has been sitting unused in the garage since the mid-90s if the weather turns sour. 
  25. Use the extra downtime to recharge. Your family will think you're napping from overeating, not from your swim workout.
  26. Can't get away? Squeeze in this effective 30-minte full-body workout
  27. Create a team for your local holiday fun run, and convince your family it will in fact be fun. The more ridiculous the team name, the better. #RunningForDonuts
  28. Don't get lost in the weeds—your family doesn't care about the all details from your last race. Smile, say it was fun and move on. 
  29. Get your family involved. Try to get your family out for a post-meal stroll around the block, or take the dog for a walk.
  30. Keep things in perspective. This time of year is about community and family—don't stress if you miss a training ride or if your diet gets off track.

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