This time of year when everyone’s thoughts are geared toward shopping, going to holiday parties and get-together’s it’s pretty hard to keep yourself focused on trying to maintain a training regimen to keep yourself in condition for running.  It’s even harder when you start thinking of all the wonderful food that’s going to be laid out from one table to the next as you make your round of visits this holiday season.

For a lot of people, the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve are an excuse to let loose and live the social life of parties and general busyness. But if you look on this as a time of running through the various stages of what this time of year has to offer. You may find yourself taking part in the local fun runs, that pop up this time of year and who doesn’t like to take in the festive holiday lights that festoon the various businesses and homes along your running path? Though maintaining a routine can be challenging during this time of year, there are fun ways to keep running a part of your schedule and to bring those you love into the world of running, yes, even in this holiday time of the year!

After all, a large number of Christmas fun runs, seem to pop up more and more each and every year and they are all usually associated with promoting a good cause like a local charity or benefit for a needy organization or even a family that needs some tender love and care. These 5K opportunities are a great way to include friends and family in your love of running. Anyone can do a 5K–it has a genuine way of bringing people together. From walking to racing, I have seen all kinds of people take part in the holiday 5K fun run at all different paces.

And if you do have the opportunity to convince some of your friends and family to take part in one of these Holiday “Fun Runs” that will take you right into the New Year’s Eve festivities.  You can have them take ownership in a way, by talking to your friends to join in and make it their own particular run by challenging them to wear their best version of the “Ugly Christmas Sweater” and see who among you finishes first.   You can always tempt them by offering them some “Pick-Me-Up” energy, by taking along a couple of pouches of Jelly Belly  energy beans so they can pop a few after they start complaining that there not up to  this! If they win the prize they have the great satisfaction of owning not only the bragging rights of beating out everyone else in the group as far as the run matters, but they also capture the title of the worst sweater as well.  Then you can always meet back at the chosen house for some hot coffee, cider or eggnog before the main holiday meal hits the dining room table.

Those holiday lights!! The one thing that encourages me to get out the door in December and early January is the promise of holiday lights! Looking at light displays is at the top of my list of favorite holiday traditions. Not only will I drive around for hours looking at the lights, I now go out and run when it’s dark just so I can get a better look at my neighbors’ lights. You would be surprised at the amount of detail you miss when you simply drive past a beautifully lit house. When you run by, you get to take in the colors, decorations and sometimes even the holiday songs playing. If you find yourself not wanting to go for a run during the next few weeks in the dark, just remember that you get the best seat in the house to some amazing light displays, simply by running.

So if the above doesn’t put a spring in your step and make you a bit itchy to get out there this holiday season, then lace up your running shoes and put the shopping on hold for a bit.  Take the opportunity to enjoy this time of year and take it all in with friends and family while you maintain your running exercise routines.  If you do this, you may make up for some of those extra portions of stuffing and gravy you’re going to be eating at the dinner table this year!

Enjoy this holiday season and give yourself the opportunity to have some fun while maintaining your running lifestyle. Who knows, you may have made one or two converts from gathering the group for those holiday “Fun Runs”

Happy Holiday Running!