9 Tips to Survive Holiday Training

It’s not always easy to make it through holiday training. And some years are better than others. Whether it’s your first winter training or your tenth, knowing some tips to survive holiday training can make a difference.

Taking care of yourself and your health, whether your training at home or traveling is key to surviving the holidays. Though simple, these tips will go a long way to help you make it through winter training.

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Staying Home

For those swimmers staying home and training with your team, here are some tips to survive holiday training.

Related article: What is Holiday Training for Swimmers?

Get Enough Sleep

School might be out during the holidays, but swimming is still in session! With the holiday break and no school to get in the way, coaches can write more intense and longer sets. 

Because the thought is that with school out for the year, swimmers can nap/rest between practices. Which you should!

Getting enough sleep during this training time is incredibly important. It helps your body recover better and gets you rested for the next practice.

Want to survive holiday training? Take your nap shortly after you finish your first practice of the day. The duration of your nap can vary by what works for you. Just ensure that it’s not too long that you miss your afternoon practice or you feel groggy during practice.

And of course, make sure you’re getting enough sleep at night. Some teams train early morning and late nights. Even with a nap during the day, your body operates better with REM sleep at night.

Eat Right

It’s incredibly hard to stick to your nutrition plans during the holidays. All the various holiday foods and meals are tempting. 

And you can have them but in moderation.

Basket filled with with fruits, a spoon of peanut butter, and a hard boiled egg
Eating healthy, balanced meals can improve your swimming performance

Remember that proper nutrition fuels your body for practice. If you eat snacks and desserts all day long (and yes, it’s tempting!), you’ll feel awful at practice. Make sure you keep up with your nutrition plan and that you’re eating at the right times.

Don’t skip your morning meal after practice in favor of taking a nap. And don’t forget to eat something before your afternoon practice. Especially if you’re out with friends just before practice begins.

Not eating right will only make your practice that much difficult. And you’ll be watching the clock, just waiting for practice to end.

Stretch

It’s a simple tip to survive holiday training, but make sure you stretch. While you should always stretch before your workouts, try to get into the habit of stretching after practice too. 

This can be as simple as rolling out at home or doing some easy stretches.

During holiday training, your muscles will face fatigue. Taking care of yourself can not only make practices easier but also help prevent injury. 

Give yourself plenty of time before practice to complete some dynamic stretching. Especially for your first workout. Don’t rush through your stretching routine, as you’ll only risk hurting yourself.

And even though it’s tempting, don’t forget to warm up and cool down properly. The extra five to ten minutes or so at the end of practice might seem like ages. But your body will thank you for taking that time to take care of yourself.

Don’t Forget About Your Goals

During the holidays, it’s easy to forget that championship meets are just around the corner. They come within months, if not weeks of the holiday training season. 

So while it’s tempting to not bother with practices or to skip a day to spend with family/friends, don’t forget what’s coming. Those meets you’ve been training for all year won’t wait for you. 

And your goals don’t go on hold just because you’re tired.

That said, keep strong during the holiday training and don’t forget your goals. Don’t let yourself slip up so close to the end of your season. Those who know what you’re aiming for will understand if they have to work their schedule around your practices.

You’ve been working hard all season to throw it away now.

Set S.M.A.R.T. swim goals to find success at practice and meets

Positive Attitude Above All

A good attitude will take you far during the weeks of winter training. It sounds easy, but it’s far from it.

Tempers get short during holiday training as bodies grow tired and practice stretches for hours. Swimmers can get snappy and negative towards each other. And you know what, that’s to be expected.

Holiday training isn’t just physical. It’s also mental. You’re training your mind to be mentally tough and push past boundaries set by yourself. 

It also means you’re training your attitude and learning how to be a better swimmer through your attitude.

If you’re feeling negative, watch what you say at practice. Complaining about a hard set doesn’t make it any easier. It just makes it harder and worse, it brings everyone down around you.

Instead, focus your negative thoughts on encouraging others. Their encouragement in return might help lift your mental state.

It’s not easy and the mental piece of holiday training is probably the hardest part. But learning how to overcome your negative attitude and push through them sets you up for success later. At meets, other practices, and throughout life.

Encourage Others

Sometimes a simple, ‘you’ve got this’ is enough to help you get through the next set. You can be on the last set and feeling dead to the world. But that encouragment from a team member or coach breathes life back into you.

Every swim parent should know these words: "I'm proud of you."

It takes nothing to give a word of praise or encouragement to another teammate. Or even the team itself. Tell them ‘good job’ when you finish sets. Or that ‘you’ve got this’ in the middle of a set.

You’ll be surprised how far a little word of encouragement can go. And how a positive team can make practice go by quicker. How it has you feeling stronger about yourself even when you just want to quit. 

Going Away

Holiday training does, of course, fall during the holidays. And for some families that means deciding between a family trip or training.

While a coach might fuss over swimmers leaving town for the holidays, the truth of the matter is that it’s your choice. Or your family’s choice. 

Related article: Swim Practice While Traveling

Let Your Coach Know

If you know you’re going out of town or won’t be training with the team during holiday training, be sure to let your coach know as soon as you’re aware. And remind them again as it gets closer to holiday training.

Don’t try to surprise your coach by letting you know the day before holiday training starts. Or by not showing up at all. 

It’s rude and disrespectful to the coach. Along with your team.  

Having swim practice while traveling involves effective communication
To have the best swim practice while traveling, be sure to communicate with everyone involved.

Look For a Place to Swim

If you want to survive holiday training while traveling, take the time to do some research beforehand.

Locate a pool or team near where you’re staying. Sites such as US Masters Swimming and USA Swimming have team locators that allow swimmers to search for teams based on location.

From these sites, see if the team you found has a website. Most teams will post contact and training information on their sites. Check to see if their training schedules match up with yours.

Related article: How to Travel During Holiday Training

If you can’t find a team nearby, search for a gym. Certain gyms allow for day passes to visitors in the area. You might have to pay a bit more, but if you’re wanting to keep up with your training, it might be worth it.

Be sure to speak with the gym before leaving to get all the information you need.

Dryland Options for When You Can’t Swim

Not everyone will have an option to train with a team or find a gym. Family obligations can keep swimmers from training during the holidays. And while it’s not ideal, it happens.

In cases like this, try your best to keep up with your dryland and cardio. 

The good news is that you don’t need a gym or free weights to do dryland. You can do many bodyweight exercises wherever you’re staying to keep in shape. Such as push-ups, squats, lunges, chair dips, and core work.

Related articles:

You can also go for a long bike ride or run to get in your cardio. If the weather makes it difficult to go outside for your cardio, stay inside, and do it instead. Stick with jumping jacks, squat jumps, and jump rope (without the rope).

If you can’t swim during the holidays, try to do at least two dryland sessions each day. And much like the other tips to survive holiday training, be sure to keep up with your sleep and watch your diet.

In Closing

The weeks of holiday training are hard. But knowing that doesn’t mean you should let it get to you. The weeks will go by quickly and before you know it, you’ll be tapering for championship meets.

Keep training hard and doing your best. And you’ll make it through the holiday season. It might not be easy, but it’ll be worth it.

As always, to happy swimming!

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Bonus Holiday Training Content:

What is Holiday Training for Swimmers?: What is holiday training? While holiday training varies by team, it can be difficult to explain. And why it’s so important to swimmers. 

How to Travel During Holiday Training: Trying to travel during holiday training can be stressful. It might seem like a lot of effort, but keeping up with your holiday training benefits you in the long run.


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