Exercise and Training load over the Christmas Holidays

Have you have been training all year and decide to take a well deserved rest over Christmas?

Doing little no training over the holidays is common, making time to spend with the family and trying to relax little. However your approach back into training after Christmas is an important area to look at. If you want to avoid injury into the new year!

Below is a example chart to visually show how training patterns tend to be through the year, with a cliff edge drop off to Christmas and large jump back into training after. 

The blue line on the chart above is what we don't want to happen but does most of the time.

The green line is what we do want to happen, to reduce the chance of injury after Christmas holidays!

Example

This example is a normal 14 hour training week average through the year. Followed by de-loading in December (as shown in blue) this brings the training down to approximately an hour per week. Then when January arrives its a very sharp turn back up to the 14hours per week.  You may think I was doing these hours before why cant I do it now? Well if you decrease your training load by 80- 90% yes you might feel a little unfit getting back into it, but there is a lot more going on in your body than you might think.  You body will be going through a deconditioning phase. It is always good to take some time off but with the wrong approach back to full training injury is likely. 

 

With in the first 7 days of jumping back into training at 14 hours, soft tissue injuries occur

1- 14 days injury involving tendons and ligaments start to crop up

1 month bone stresses and fractures

We all talk about overuse injuries and how they can gradually build up over a few weeks or months after increased training load.  However we rarely consider the effects of under training, or that spike in training after a prolonged rest period.  Your body responds and adapts to training load, so if you under train over christmas, or do nothing and jump straight back into it in the new year this can increase stress on the joints, muscles and tendons and can increase the risk of injury just a much as over training.  You could get through the first week, even the second week and think you have manged to avoid the injuries, so be sensible and calculate your Christmas load...…including how many extra mince pies you might be lugging up that hill in the new year!

So what should be done?

Gradual increase (example)

  • week 1:  7-8 hours  
  • week 2: 8-9 hours
  • week 3: 9-10 hours
  • week 4: 10-11 hours 

Looking at the green line, your training load can still drop, but to approximately 50% of your normal training load. Followed by a gradual increase back up to your normal training load.  Increasing the training load by approximately 10% each week.

Now it is Christmas and 50% of your training load might be a little ambitious, so even completing 25% of your normal training load would be a good base to work from. Doing a smaller percentage of specific training sessions with a gradual increase back up to your normal week, is far better than little to no training . Making the effort to do some training hours through Christmas will mean that your deconditioning phase isn't as harsh. Paired with a gradual build up gives time for your body to adapt, back to the normal training load. Hopefully reducing the chance of injuries in the New year.

Most importantly remember to enjoy your time off!