Start the New Year in top shape: Running tips and training plan for the holidays

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Stay fit over the holidays – how is that possible in the face of all the temptations between Christmas and Three Kings’ Day? Christmas time is also often a lazy time for many joggers before they suddenly notice how many kilos they have put on in the New Year and how badly it has affected your fitness. That does not have to be the case: Here top runner Sebastian Hallmann, seven-time German champion, gives running tips for the holidays: This is how to start the New Year in top shape. The training plan through to Three Kings Day also serves as preparation for the ISPO Munich Night Run on January 27.

Sebastian Hallmann, winner of the Munich Wings for Life World Run 2017, trains in any weather - running in snow offers new attractions.
Sebastian Hallmann, winner of the Munich Wings for Life World Run 2017, trains in any weather - running in snow offers new attractions.

The ISPO Munich Night Run – the trail running event for everyone – takes place at the Olympic Park on January 27. One of the best German long-distance runners ever is in the starting line-up the evening before the ISPO Munich: Sebastian Hallmann. The 7-time German champion in middle and long-distance running (for example, over 10,000 meters) won the German run of the Wings for Life World Run in Munich in May 2017 . You can read Part 2 here after the first part of the interview with Sebastian Hallmann: This is how to stay fit over the holidays! 

An overly break from training can impact on your running form Sebastian, the holidays are just around the corner and with them comes the time in which you certainly don’t want to torture yourself. Or is that different for you? 
Running does not automatically mean you have to torture yourself. Apart from the intensive sessions, the training should not be deemed demanding. That applies for all the seasons and every day.

I have never planned the holidays as training-free days. I always found it really pleasant when I could escape the celebrations in the mornings and get a bit of peace on the running track. As I am still training carefully due to injury, I have planned a lot of endurance runs.

After all, the ISPO Munich Night Run at the Olympic Park on January 27, in which you are taking part, is also just around the corner. Typically people let themselves go during the holidays – and  and only start to think about losing weight in the New Year. Then it’s often too late, right?
It’s never too late. However, the break will naturally impact on the “running form” that you have been working on so carefully prior to this. Quintessentially: You need to push through any lack of willpower and go for a gentle run outside from time to time. Not for your weight but rather to  get back into regular training.

For preparation: Gentle tempo-alternating jogs and low-level mountain runs

Let’s talk about the preparations for the ISPO Munich Night Run. I prepare myself for a summer competition with targeted training methods: Interval training, paced runs, pyramids or tempo-alternating jogs. Does that also apply for a winter run – i.e. in a time in which the majority of runners primarily do slow endurance runs?

The ISPO Munich Night Run is a nice change during winter training. Such competitions can be ideally integrated into your training and prepared for with seasonally appropriate tempo programs. Gentle tempo-alternating jogs or low-level mountain runs in the weeks before the race, along with endurance runs, are sufficient to get you to the start line in good shape.

Preparation for type 1: This is how the casual runner gets fit

Let’s be specific and set a training workload between Christmas and Three Kings’ Day. How can runners with two left feet and “fair weather” runners do on these days to get fit and remain this way?
Training! The best thing is not to lose sight of the goal that you have set. Hopefully, it will not only rain cats and dogs in proverbial terms between Christmas and Three Kings’ Day so that you have good training conditions. Stabilization training is always possible inside your own four walls.

And those constantly procrastinate by saying they don’t have time can also go running once for just 20 minutes. A gentle five-minute run, ten minutes at pace, a gentle five-minute run – and in just 20 minutes you have a little stimulus to ensure that you stay in shape, or become even fitter


Preparation for type 2: The endurance runner who is not taking part in any competitions at present does this

Now please a few specific training recommendations for someone who has run consistently right through autumn and winter, but no longer in competition mode. What can this type of runner do over the holidays to get fit for the ISPO Munich Night Run?
This type of runner is definitely not unfit. Just maintain continuity in your training. Schedule your rest days for days which are taken up with family commitments and use the other days to keep fit. As a little trick for these days: Either go on a long, slow run or a shorter, quicker one. In this way, these runners have sufficient variety in terms of stimulus and cover their basic endurance training as well as pacing development.

Preparation for type 3: This is how the competitive runner trains

And finally, a small holiday program for the competition freak who has registered for a series of winter runs or for a New Year’s Eve run – and now also has the ISPO Night Run in their sights. What should they do until Three Kings’ Day?
This runner usually has a fixed plan. Compared with other types of running, it is important not to become nervous if you miss a session during the holidays. These runners can use the time to gain the necessary endurance with a few quicker sessions. Because squeezing in a 30-minute endurance run between the Christmas goose, giving out presents and cookies, only to reach your planned weekly kilometer target will not make you any quicker. It’s better to plan more flexibly for the following day to be able to complete your training at a high level in a well-rested state

Let’s come back to the particular conditions during the ISPO Munich Night Run – a trail run in the evening. What do I need to keep in mind when doing a winter run in the dark?
You must pay particular attention to slippery areas. Icy areas are often difficult to recognize in the dark. This can be fatal when running around a curve. Moreover, good visibility with reflectors or lighting equipment is crucial.

The lighting conditions themselves can be problematic when you are running. The ground conditions can also be full of surprises. You need to concentrate even more than usual when running in such unusual and apparently difficult external conditions. It is also a good idea to leave some space between you and the runner in front of you to always have a clear view of the ground.

And the following applies for the preparation: Run during similar conditions.

What else helps: strength, stabilization and balance training

What about exercising outside the actual training: Do I also need to keep something in mind here?
In winter, the focus is once more increasingly on strength, stabilization and balance training. A comprehensive stabilization session can be done in the warmth on very cold days in particular or during conditions which do not always allow you run freely. Select exercises which are as race-specific as possible. In other words, to particularly challenge the muscle groups which are involved in running.

Anyone who does not find stabilization training sufficiently challenging can also integrate circuit training into their plan. In my case, winter helps me to build up my basic endurance and a stable core.

No excuses on holidays!

“A gentle five-minute run, ten minutes at pace, a gentle five-minute run – and in just 20 minutes you have a little stimulus!”
Sebastian Hallmann talks about training on days when you have obligations

Read Part 3 of the interview with Sebastian Hallmann on the ISPO Munich Night Run on 8 January: Start the New Year in the right way with these training tips.