Holiday busyness doesn't have to derail our way of life.
Holiday busyness doesn’t have to derail our way of life.

There’s something about this time of year that leaves me yearning for a thick, engrossing book, a soft blanket and fireplace, a glass of red wine … and time to simply sit and read.

Like everyone else, I’m busy with holiday things-to-do on top of everyday life obligations, and who wouldn’t want to take breaks from all of that? But I’m starting to think it’s something a little more than that, because in addition to wanting to slow things down, I find my motivation for running isn’t where it normally is. I find I need to push myself more to get out the door and go for a run this time of year. This is a relatively newer development for me. But I’ve come to two conclusions: first, my body, which has become well accustomed to training for a spring marathon all winter long, is telling me to take it easy—just a bit—before full-on training begins late December/early January. Secondly: becoming a complete slug, while enticing at times, isn’t really what I want and therefore I should fully embrace the shorter distance races I’ve signed on for with Joe and our kids starting Thanksgiving with a turkey trot, this weekend’s Farmland 5K, and likely two as-yet-unregistered events for that are taking place locally.

I’m hopeful I can still get in some good couch-and-book time while also staying plenty active enough to keep myself happy and sane during this busier season. I think it’s definitely do-able. I may not be on a Thanksgiving-to-New Year’s running streak like some runners I know (I am a tad intrigued by this…) but I do know that immersing myself only in holiday festivities and lounging around (oh so easy to do) wouldn’t bode well for my mental or physical state. And come January, when I really start training for my Memorial Day weekend marathon, I don’t want to feel like I’m starting at square one.

I like this gem from Mark Remy of Runner’s World: “A long to-do list isn’t a reason to skip a run, it’s a reason to do one.” Yes. I’ve always believed this, and I think it’s especially important to remember during busier seasons of our life.

Freezing family turkey trot! That's Jason, by brother-in-law, in orange behind me, with Joe next to him and our three kids.
Freezing family turkey trot! That’s Jason, by brother-in-law, in orange behind me, with Joe next to him and our three kids.

It felt so good to run our local turkey trot in Traverse City on Thanksgiving morning. All five of us ran, as well as Joe’s brother, Jason, the tallest guy I know at 6’7’’ who recently got back into running. What an honor to be there with him as he ran his first 5K race. It was an especially frigid and snowy turkey trot—temps in the low 20s, wind chill making it feel even colder—but we all wore Yaktrax (loving my new run-specific ones with reflective straps and improved traction and durability) and we just had a lot of fun.

Loving the new style of run-specific Yaktrax.
Loving the new style of run-specific Yaktrax.

I can’t wait to run this weekend’s Farmland 5K European Style XC Challenge, now in its second year. It’s a great race, taking place on farm fields not far from our house and organized by my good friend and running coach Lisa Taylor. This year she’s added a bike portion to the event. Online registration continues through Thursday. We ran this one last year, too, and among my favorite parts was celebrating having run rolling hills with steaming cups of locally-made chili, delicious bread and the most amazing almond milk hot chocolate. Online registration continues until Thursday, Dec. 5 at 12:15 p.m. (Register here » )

Beyond this weekend, life will get even busier with two birthdays—Joe’s and mine—and a two-week winter break for our kids, but I’m determined to stay on track. As for other runs, I’m considering a new one in Traverse City on Jan. 1—the Resolution Run 5K—and I’ll likely again run the Traverse City Track Club’s Frozen Foot 5-miler on Jan. 11.

But back to today, to right now…today is a day for a run.

How important is it to you to stay motivated through the month of December? Any tips to share? Are you running any winter races?

Registration for the 2014 Bayshore Marathon and 10K–this is the Memorial Day weekend marathon I’m planning to run–opens online at 9 a.m. this Sunday, Dec. 8. It’ll likely fill fairly quickly. The half marathon filled in less than an hour (!) this past weekend when registration opened.

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