‘Should I train on Christmas Day?’. Athletes wrestle with this question every year. Many love training on Christmas Day to maintain consistency and can't enjoy the festivities without training beforehand. Others see it as a day to break routine and relax. Who's right?
'You're not a real athlete unless you train on Christmas Day', proclaims a rather rotund uncle who claims he once ran for the country.
A quick Google will highlight some of the world’s best athletes do indeed train on Christmas Day...but the list of those who don't is just as long.
It’d appear there’s no right or wrong answer to this question, so let’s explore the reasons for and against on both sides.
Should I train on Christmas Day? YES!
There are a few scenarios when training on Christmas Day can be a good thing:
- The best reason to train on Christmas Day is because you simply love it, and the endorphins put you in a positive frame of mind for the rest of the day
- Consistent training is key to progress and taking a day off can derail those who have found a workable rhythm
- It can be empowering training on a day when (possibly) many of your competitors are having a day off
- It may be that your family Christmases predictably break down after the yearly epic Monopoly session. In this case, taking 45 minutes to get some fresh air and ponder what just came out of your mouth as you landed on your nephew’s hotel on Mayfair may be wise
Running on a day when many of your competitors are having a day off can be very empowering
If you do choose to train on Christmas Day, I’d encourage you to do so in the morning before the action kicks off. There’s nothing worse than a looming session and trying to peel yourself away from board games after a heavy lunch is difficult and will only leave you guilt-ridden.
Should I train on Christmas Day? NO!
Others believe that training on Christmas Day is unnecessary and the benefits of a rest day far outweigh those of getting a session done. Reasons to take the day off include:
- If you’re a reasonably committed athlete the other 364 days of the year, taking one day off won't make a jot of difference to race performance
- If you’re only training on Christmas Day to ‘prove’ that you’ve got the cajones to be out there – miserable or not – then your motivations might need rethinking
- The 25th December is just another day. What you do on that one day holds no more weight than any of the other 364 days. Performance is built on consistency. Not daily consistency, but weekly and monthly consistency
- The benefits of taking a day off on 25th December are the same as those at any other time of year - rest your mind, recover your muscles and enjoy other things in life
- Perhaps the most valid reason for not training on Christmas Day is this: in a world where our face to face social interactions are becoming less frequent, coinciding a day off with one where – hopefully – you’re spending time with those you love makes a lot of sense
- Get a solid few days training pre-Christmas nailed and there’s no reason to train on Christmas Day. It’s then a brilliant rest day.
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Should I train on Christmas Day? Conclusion
Just as different training methodologies always split the crowd, here too training on Christmas Day divides opinion and there’s no right or wrong answer.
Personally, I encourage taking Christmas Day off. Unless you’re the type that is simply unable to enjoy a day without training – in which case maybe there’s a larger issue to consider – then maximise a day which has become rare: one filled with family, friends and festivities.