Navigating the Holidays as an Athlete


Posted by Coach Chris Palmquist

(photo from


For summer-sport endurance athletes, it is time to restore our bodies and enjoy the holidays. How do we get through the next few weeks with our health and our 2018 goals and priorities intact? What is appropriate endurance athlete behavior during this very different season? Here are my recommendations for your last few weeks of 2017.

Training “Do's”

Be more unstructured. Unless you are a winter sport endurance athlete, this is the time of year to enjoy some freedom from structured training. Be active on as many days as you can but follow your heart and enjoy whatever feels best on any given day. This is the time to hike, snowshoe, cross country ski, rock climb, dance, ice skate, group exercise, fat-bike, holiday run or whatever sounds like fun on any given day. Heal your body and mind from a long season of training with different motions and new experiences.

Get outside. Get some fresh air on your face – it will help your head and your health. Fresh air is still fresh air after dark too, so don’t let daylight hours limit you. Wear reflective, warm clothing and attach some blinking lights, then find a safe place to walk, run or bike (use lots of lights) with your dog or with friends.

Training “Do Not’s”

Don’t perform race-specific workouts. Post season is your time to transition from peak fitness (and fatigue) back to rested, recovered and ready to rebuild for next year. When you swim, bike or run, your workouts should not resemble your last race in distance or speed. Go easy, go shorter, be playful.

Don’t train with pain. Now is your chance to heal those lingering aches and pains. If it hurts to run, do not run. Spend a few weeks healing now so that you can run pain-free next year.

Eating “Do’s”

Drink enough water each day. Take your body weight in pounds and drink that same number of ounces of water each day. Staying hydrated is critical for staying healthy and feeling good during the holiday season.

Eat your vegetables. Vegetables are the most nutrient-rich foods that you can eat. Don’t let a day go by without several servings of vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables.

Eating “Do Not's”

Don’t overeat added sugars. This is hard with treats and cookies everywhere you turn. Treat yourself occasionally to high quality treats and skip those that are not truly delicious.

Don’t overdrink alcohol. Savor one drink while at a party rather than several. Then get back to hydrating with sparkling water for the rest of the evening.

Lifestyle “Do’s”

Sleep. Most of us need 7-8 hours each night to have strong immune systems, support good eating habits and function well as adults.

Enjoy social occasions, family and friends. Connect, gather and enjoy the people in your life.

Schedule regular restorative periods during busy days. Take a walk each day. Get up from your computer every hour or two. Practice mindfulness, meditation or deep breathing each day.

Lifestyle “Do Not's”

Don’t try to be perfect. Perfection is unattainable and unimportant and unenjoyable.


Enjoy these next five weeks and the friends, family and gatherings that come with this time of year. Your priority as an endurance athlete preparing for 2018 is to restore your body, mind and energy.

Coach Chris Palmquist is a USAT Level III and Youth/Junior Coach, USAC Level I Coach and a F.I.S.T. Certified Bike Fitter with 18 years of coaching experience and has coached athletes to success at the regional, national and world level. Chris has coached elite athletes at ITU World Paratriathlon Events and High Performance Camps at Olympic Training Centers. Chris also coaches training camps for USAT Juniors, Challenged Athletes Foundation and Dare2Tri. As an athlete, she has numerous top finishes in many sports including triathlon, collegiate rowing, canoe/kayak, cross country skiing, speed skating and road bike racing. Her coaching philosophy is based on trust, communication, balance, achieving top potential and the joy of training and racing. Chris is married with two children. She can be reached at

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