By Dr. Olivia Affuso
Hey y’all! It’s that time of year again. The holiday season has begun! And we pause to give thanks for our family, friends and the prospects of new running gear in the near future. We must also express our gratitude for our ability to run, hike and move along the beautiful trails in Alabama and beyond.
But of course, the holidays bring both joy and challenges in keeping it moving on the trails. A little or lot of extra motivation may be needed to stay active. Oh, the joy! ? The parties, the food and the libations. Even the Grinch in me loves to eat and hang out with friends and family. Friends who love to eat and run are a mainstay of the BUTS community.?
And then there are all of the challenges. ?? Let’s start with the sunlight or lack thereof. Sunrise is at about 6:30 am and sunset is at 2:30 pm. Well, at least it seems like it. Either way, we often leave the house in the dark and get home in the dark.? Not everyone is a hundred-miler or dreams of running on the trails in the dark. And some of us lose all motivation due to SAD or seasonal affective disorder from the lack of sunlight. Another challenge is the increasingly cold and sometimes cold and wet weather in the South. Even if it is not raining, the high humidity in Alabama coupled with cold temperatures makes it feel even colder.? Finally, there are all of the additional responsibilities of kids being out of school, organizing or attending parties and the dreaded holiday shopping. No wonder even seasoned trailheads find it difficult to stay consistent during the holiday season.
So, if your goal is to survive the holidays without losing your mind ?and all of your hard-earned fitness ??♀️??♂️, here are 5 tips to stay active and experience more joy.
- Create a Holiday Challenge with or without friends to keep you motivated and accountable. For example, daily movement from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day.
- Schedule 10 minutes of “Me” time to run, walk or hike in nature each day. There are 1,440 minutes in a day and you DESERVE at least 10 of them for yourself.
- Track your progress and share it with others. Check out the BUTS Facebook page and Strava.
- Connect with one or more BUTS for moral support and companionship on the trails. Stupidity runs are a lot more fun with friends. Ask Mark Beggs!
- Reward yourself with some new gear, a spa visit or other treat of your choice.
Now about those challenges, there are bunch of folks in the BUTS community who would love to share their wisdom about how they have overcome every single one of these problems and many others. I hope you will reach out to the group with your specific issue. We are here to support your trail journey. Good luck and Happy Holidays!
Olivia Affuso, PhD, FACSM is a physical activity epidemiologist and a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine. She is a streak runner with more than 1,500 consecutive days under her belt. You can follow her on Instagram @droliviaaffuso.