It’s the middle of December! We’ve been building our aerobic engines for three months and seeing and feeling fitness gains. In the pool, CSS paces are improving, on the bike we can push harder and with more power, and our running endurance is building. This is all great news!

But, it’s a scary time of year right now –  that time between the middle of December and the second week of January. During this time, group training sessions break and we typically become insanely busy with holiday events, work, and extra time with family and friends. In a nutshell, our schedules are disrupted and often our training is as well.

How Do We Avoid This?

  • Plan ahead. Look at your calendar and start to plan your training during this time period.
  • Keep it simple. Come up with some easy, straightforward workouts to stay active over the holidays.  See below for some sample sessions.
  • Make it social. When possible, involve others! Include food, drink & social time afterwards.
  • Keep a log. Recording your workouts in an online log or fitness journal helps you maintain momentum and serves as a great look back next year this time.


Sample Sessions:

Swim Workouts

Here are two of my favorite swim sessions. They are both simple and easy to knock out in 30 – 45 minutes.

To maintain aerobic fitness:

“2k every other day”. This is very straightforward set and NOT meant to be a time trial. Pick a pace that you would be happy to swim on your worst day.  This will likely be around CSS + 8-10 seconds per 100m.  Once you decide on your pace, set your tempo trainer to beep at this pace.  For example, if your CSS pace is currently 2:00/100m, you will set your tempo trainer, in mode 2, to 2:10.  Then, just get in and swim. You will likely be ahead of the beep the whole time which makes for a relaxing swim.

I like to look at my overall time when I complete this workout. Not because I necessarily want to swim it faster each time, but because I like to see the overall time and then note how the swim felt. Ideally, as you get more and more 2k swims under your belt, the swim will start to feel easier. Your overall time might get faster too but just getting used to swimming this distance continuously, and more comfortably, is great. This is a particularly good swim if you have Olympic or 70.3 distance events on your race schedule next season.

Modification:  You can also do this as a 1k or 1.5k continuous swim and you can do it every three to four days rather than every other day.

To get in some intensity:

6-8 x 4:00 intervals with a 1:00 break between each one. Swim as far as you can in each four minute block, aiming to re-start each block from the same starting point. How far can you swim? How consistent can you make your pace to achieve the same distance on each one? You should be able to hold close to CSS pace for these intervals with this 4:1 work-rest ratio.

Set your tempo trainer in mode 2 to beep every 60 seconds, i.e. 1:00 should show on the display. Swim as far as you can until you hear the 4th beep each time, then stop wherever you are. In the next 60 seconds, swim back easily to your starting point to start the next interval. It will get harder and harder to reach the same distance as you start to fatigue but stay strong and keep up the same intensity so that you can get to the same spot or further for all of the 4:00 intervals. Total time: 30 – 40 minutes.

Bike Workout

This is a super simple ride especially if your only tool is a cadence sensor – or even just a clock. Total time: 38 – 48 minutes

  • Warm up: 5-10 minutes
    • Slowly build from 6/10 RPE to 8/10 RPE in the last 5 minutes
  • Main-set: 4 x 5 minutes in a big gear
    • Maintain a cadence of 75 RPM
    • RPE should be 8-9/10 effort
    • 2 minute recovery (light tension, easy spinning) after each 5:00 interval
  • Cool-down: 5-10 minute easy spin – flush out legs with fast feet and very light tension.

Modification: You can easily change this to a fitness / coordination set rather than strength by changing the target cadence from 75 RPM to 100 RPM.

Thanks to The Doctrine’s Sherri Buchignani for this short & sweet bike workout!

Run Workouts

To maintain aerobic fitness:

Just get out there and run! Similar to the easy aerobic “2k every other day swim” workout, pick a 5-10k loop and just run it regularly at a conversational pace. If you have company over the holidays, have them join you. If they don’t run, go for a walk instead. As endurance coaching expert Bobby McGee states “Even the most advanced athletes can benefit from some walking, as it helps you recover faster and increases your muscle endurance without breaking down your muscles in the same way that running does.” Indulging too much? Walk it off!

To get in some intensity: 

Do a 30 – 45 minute Fartlek run.  “Fartlek” means ‘speed play’ in Swedish and involves running continuously at varying intensities.

Warm-up: 2 minute walk, 8 minute jog building your pace.

Main-set: Ladder (30:00)

  • 1:00 quick pace, 1:00 easy jog
  • 2:00 quick pace, 2:00 easy jog
  • 3:00 quick pace, 3:00 easy jog
  • 4:00 quick pace, 4:00 easy jog
  • 5:00 quick pace, 5:00 easy jog

Modification: To change this up, you can start with 5:00 quick pace, 5:00 easy jog and work your way down.

Cool-down: 5:00 walk


This 20 – 25 minute “bench circuit” features four exercises (two upper and two lower body) and the only equipment required is your body and a bench, chair or table!

Thank you to Amanda Regnier, M.Sc., CSCS for brainstorming this session with me!

We hope these simple and straightforward workouts will help keep your motivation and discipline high over this holiday season.