Do You Have Endurance for Eating Season?

How to train for your holiday dinners

You guys, it’s finally here. We’ve been training all year for this. All those early mornings and countless miles are finally going to pay off, and honestly, I am so ready.

It’s the holiday season, and I am going to put so much food in my face hole.

What, you thought I was talking about fall race season? Heck, no. That was bush-league stuff. The stretch between Thanksgiving and New Year’s demands true endurance: Roast turkey! Cornbread stuffing! Potato latkes! Peppermint bark! I will even eat figgy pudding, even though I’m not entirely sure what figgy pudding is, because it is the holidays, and I am here for it.

We binge for six weeks–at family gatherings, office parties, Secret Santa happy hours–and then it’s over. Like any race, we arrive at the finish line on New Year’s Day, feeling wrecked and insisting “never, ever, ever again,” and yet here we are, face-down in a pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving.

But, like your race day, you can survive the holidays or you can thrive. I don’t know about you, but I choose to thrive. The 8-part plan for nailing the eat, drink and be merry:

Dress the Part

The importance of picking the right gear cannot be overstated. Select lightweight, moisture-wicking clothing with two-way stretch. If the pants aren’t your regular eating pants, wear them for at least one training dinner. This test run will determine whether you’re likely to chafe and/or offend your grandmother by unbuttoning pre-pie.

Taper

In the days leading up to a family dinner or holiday party, your overall eating should reduce by about 40 percent. It may feel strange. You might be antsy. You may even experience phantom pains. This is normal. Trust your plan, and whatever you do, do not google “pie delivery.” It will only make things worse.

Warm Up

But just a little. Shake out the nerves with a Turkey Trot or Santa Shuffle, but don’t overdo it. Save your energy for the main event.

Pace Yourself

It can be tempting to go all-out from the beginning, but stick to your plan! Yes, that cheese plate Aunt Shelley put out at 11a.m. looks delicious, but hold back now so you can finish strong later. Could you live with yourself if you hit the wall just as the cranberry sauce hits the table? I think not.

Finish the Plate You’re In

Instead of obsessing about all the courses, focus on the plate in front of you.

Hydrate

Take in fluids after the first course, and every course thereafter. Drinking early will help prevent gravy-induced dehydration later.

Dig Deep

Emil Zatopek once said, “it’s at the borders of pain and suffering that the men are separated from the boys.” And then he ate a third plate of Christmas tamales. Like a man.

Finish Strong

If you feel relatively good at dessert time, that’s the time to get aggressive. Pile on the pie, put your head down and grind it out. MMM! Tastes like victory–and yule log.

Susan Lacke
Susan Lacke is habitually undertrained and overconfident. Her first book, "Life's Too Short to Go So F*cking Slow," (Velo Press) will hit stores and e-readers on Nov. 1.