We all love a bit of festive cheer. Not even the grumpiest Christmas running stooge would miss a mince pie, glass of mulled wine or turkey (plus all the trimmings). That said, if we’re not careful Christmas can quickly become an eating festival as we tuck away late night chocs, crackers and cheese, all washed down with a big glass of rouge or a beer or three.
Christmas can be a perilous time for the calorie-conscious runner. If too many office parties, family get-togethers and big nights out see you eating more sausage rolls than running miles, here are some top sessions to help you run off the Christmas calories.
Offending item: Christmas dinner
Calorie count: 1,500
Run this off with: A festive fartlek
This run is best done on Christmas morning so you get it in the bag before the day kicks off.
15-min warm-up done as 3 x 5mins, each one incrementally getting a little faster. Followed by 45mins of high-intensity fartlek running.
Keep the session unstructured and vary the length and intensity of the efforts depending on the terrain and how you feel. Vary the intensity as much as possible. Ideally effort duration should be no more than 4mins and recovery duration no more than 2mins. Pack your efforts into the workout to give you the best fitness and calorie-crunching return. Finish the run with a 10min cool-down.
Offending item: Christmas pudding (one serving)
Calorie count: 400
Run this off with: A brandy-snapping tempo run
This run is for when you just feel like you’ve over-indulged a whisker and want to utilise your time to best effect.
5mins easy warm-up. Followed by10mins ‘out’ in one direction at around 75% of maximum effort. Turn around and run the same route back to the start point with the aim of running faster and, in doing so, taking less than 10mins for the return leg. End with 5min easy cool-down.
Offending item: Cheese board (a slice of stilton, brie and two crackers)
Calories count: 250
Run this off with: That run you do when you really don’t want to
30min steady run. The faster you go on this run, the more calories you’ll burn. But you this run chiefly for when you’re low on energy and just need to squeeze in a steady run.
Offending item: Glass of port (3.5fl oz)
Calorie count: 165
Run this off with: Red zone 60 seconds
Start the run with a progressive-paced 10min warm-up. Then go straight into 6 x 60secs high-intensity efforts with 60secs walk / jog recovery.
End the workout with a 5min cool-down.
Offending item: Office party (six pints of lager, shot of tequila and kebab)
Calorie count: 1,700
Run this off with: A party pyramid
A big night out requires a big workout (although you may be best advised to do this one a few days after the office party, depending on how you’re feeling). A pyramid interval session is designed to allow you time to build the intensity up throughout the session.
Start the session with 15mins of gentle jogging to warm up. Continue with a descending pyramid set of:
Run each of the efforts at a gradually progressive intensity. Starting at around 70% for the 8min run and finishing at 95% for the 1min run. Finish the workout with 10mins of easy running.
If the Party Pyramid just feels a little too much after your big night out then opt for duration instead and head out for a steady paced (60-65% effort) 90-minute run.
Offending item: Box of chocolates
Calorie count: 1,000
Run this off with: Pace play selection box.
This session helps you learn pace discipline and control. Begin the run with 10mins of easy-paced running. Then run:
After a 5min walk or walk-jog, repeat the progressive paced 3x5mins a second time.
End the run with a 10min cool-down.