• Helen Phillips

How Cheesecake Runner Survives the Season

My friends know I’m not that keen on Christmas, so tend to keep my head down or escape to the sun. I’ve had a great year. I’ve had a super significant birthday, pushed forward with my business, cooked and eaten some wonderful meals, drank some amazing wines and trained and raced well, with PB’s everywhere!

But whether you stand on the side-lines or throw yourself head first into festivities, December and especially Christmas can take it’s toll. We are suckers for indulgence. We eat and spend too much, and through the winter exercise and over the party season sleep too little.

So come January, when marathon or half training starts, we’re feeling slow and sluggish, heavier on the scales and totally exhausted. Then the guilt-monster rears its ugly head and we scrabble around to find a weight loss or detox diet quick fix.

As Cheesecake Runner I don't believe the occasional indulgence is bad. I’ve worked hard all year and it’s important to have some down time from training and ‘compulsively eating bananas’, but I try to (and don’t always succeed) in doing so in moderation.

This is how Cheesecake Runner Survives the Season

With food everywhere it’s tempting to constantly graze and nibble, especially mid afternoon … with a tray of mince pies and sausage rolls doing the rounds in the office. But very often what you think is hunger is a signal that you're thirsty. So make sure, even through winter, you’re drinking enough water (coffee, tea and other non alcoholic drinks count too), so you don’t go naughty on nibbles.

It’s the time of year for parties and meet up’s with friends. And I love a drink as much as the next runner! To help me moderate my hangover I always make sure I’m well hydrated before I start a marathon session, so I don’t overdo the booze trying to hydrate as soon as someone hands me a beer! I also make sure I’ve ‘lined my stomach’, eaten a carb rich meal, before heading out. That way I’ll slow the adsorption of alcohol into my system and stop me grazing on fatty ‘beige food’ latter.

I also try to drink a glass of water with or between each alcoholic drink to help reduce my overall alcohol intake, and as soon as I’m home I’ll drink a pint of water before bed. That’ll go some way to reducing the chances of a stonking hangover the next day.

When I’m in marathon training mode I often take months off the booze so I don’t add unnecessary calories into my diet. I’ll be back training in January, but to be sure I don’t pile on the calories I try to make good booze decisions during December. Booze binges can make a significant contribution to a calorie catastrophe at Christmas, and a large red can be close to 300 calories (that’s 30 minutes running), so watch what you're drinking!

Also watch out for festive coffees with lashings of cream, syrups and sprinkley sparkles. They might be delicious but they contain ‘dangerous’ amounts of sugar and calories. Save them to be an occasional treat, rather than your go to coffee shop drink.

Whilst we’re on the subject of sprinkles and sparkles, it’s so easy at this time of year to load up your shopping basket with festive foods and over packaged tempting treats. Don’t get caught up in the carnage and get carried away! There really is no reason to panic buy for ‘the big day’. It’s one meal folks, a Sunday roast on a Monday. No big deal! Don’t get dominated by the supermarket demons before the big day. Stick to a plan and it’ll be delicious. That way you wont be over burdening the bin men with uneaten sprouts and more rotten food than you ever needed! If you feel compelled to buy, donate it (in anticipation of it being eventually trashed) to a food bank for people who could really do with food support.

And on the big day itself practise mindful eating. Slow down and savour your food and drink. If you’re going to indulge in something, then make sure you really enjoy it.

Finally, the days may be colder but getting out for a short run every now and then (whilst the in-laws and out-laws are napping is good time). Or take the whole family out for a long walk in the fresh air, it can be a great way to refresh and recharge and antidote to the stress of '4-walls-syndrome'. Spending hours and hours in front of the TV with a tin of quality street and bucket of Baileys might sound great, but it won’t do much for your fitness and general wellbeing. So get out there, get some fresh air and recharge … so you’ll be ready to run come the new year.

Happy Christmas!

Helen, The Cheesecake Runner x