Finishing the Year Strong

The holidays are a great time of year with friends and families getting together to share cheer. It's also the time of year when most people slow down or stop their training. A lot of people say that they will take some time off and start up again with the New Year. Rest and recovery are important, but it doesn't mean that you stop working out and forget about eating right, unless you want to lose a lot of the progress you've made in the past 12 months. If you put a little bit of effort into the rest of 2013, it will make a huge difference in how you start the New Year. —Phil White

Brody Welte of PaddleFit shares some practical ideas for staying on track for the rest of the year:

1. Set one attainable goal. Spend 15 minutes and think about what you would like to accomplish through the rest of the year.

Here are some examples:

• Set up a calendar and commit to training three days a week through the end of the year.
• Do a burpee challenge: See how many burpees you can do in a minute (with correct form – be honest!) and retest yourself at the end of the year to see how much you've improved. Or, really push yourself and make it a three- or five-minute challenge, and get some friends involved so you can push each other.
• See how fast you can paddle an SUP-specific ergometer or Concept 2 rowing machine for 500m. Test yourself (after a five-minute warm-up of slow paddling or rowing) and try to beat your time by paddling or rowing twice a week. Retest yourself at the end of the year.

2. Drink water. You might be thinking that this is a no brainer but it's all too easy to get dehydrated during the holidays. Chugging H2O helps:

• Your body runs efficiently. Being dehydrated has many negative results, including fatigue, muscle aches/cramps and headaches, all three of which can derail your training program.

• Control how much you eat and drink. If you are drinking water before your meals, you will feel fuller and have a better chance of consuming fewer calories. Also, if you can drink a glass of water between every 'adult' beverage, it will help you consume less alcohol and process the few drinks you have more quickly.

3. Get outside. Even if you live in a cold climate you can still create plenty of opportunities to get fresh air. Here are some ways to make it happen:

Paddle if you can. There is phenomenal apparel out there that can enable you to paddle safely in cold weather – think dry suits, and insulated booties and hoods. If the water isn't frozen then go for it! Be sure to go out with someone else though, as long exposure to cold air and water temperatures is dangerous if you get hurt, even with the right gear.
• Go for a walk. While you might not be burning through as many calories as in a full-on workout, you will be reducing stress, improving concentration and participating in active recovery that will help you flush out the waste products that result from strenuous exercise. Recent studies show that just being outside helps you heal faster as well as avoid and cure illness.
• Try one of the many awesome snow sports, such as alpine skiing, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. When you're learning a new sport, it challenges your body in different ways and most winter sports improve the reactive balance that's crucial to SUP. Your mind will also be occupied by the new biomechanical feedback you'll get from these activities so it won't feel like you're training, even though you really are.

4. Take stock of 2013, and be intentional about planning for next year:

Be thankful. While the holidays can conjure up not so pleasant memories and be stressful, we always have something to be grateful for. Having an attitude of thankfulness not only puts us in a good disposition, it also may even help improve performance. Spend five minutes at the end of the day being thankful and you'll get up the next morning ready to make an impact.
• Take advantage of the extra time off from work and spend it on setting larger goals for the upcoming year. Come up with the top three things that you're proud of for 2013, then use this motivation to outline and pursue the top training and life goals for 2014. It may help to share these with your significant other or a friend who can help you keep on track and check in regularly on your progress.

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