#TheToughest: Our Christmas guide for surviving January training
We know that training is probably the last thing you want to think of as you settle down for Christmas dinner…
The dreaded return to training in January has haunted many young footballers/hurlers over the years and it doesn’t get any easier as you get older either.
The ‘fear’ is a word often used to describe the feeling you have the day after a particularly hard night out on the wobbly water but we think it can easily be used in this context as well.
The fear of the shuttle runs, the fitness tests, the conditioning training, the freezing weather, the hopelessness that envelops you during your drive to training in the pitch black.
We have had quite a few teary episodes of holding onto our mother’s leg while the manager comes in and drags us kicking and screaming down to training so we have plenty of experience in making the transition from the couch to the field that little bit easier.
Here is how we manage to stay in such good shape over the Christmas period and not (completely) die when we return for the inevitable drudge of pre-season training.
Avail of any opportunity for social activities which involve exercising
There are any amount of activities happening around Christmas, whether it’s a St. Stephen’s Day five-a-side or a 5k run for charity. It doesn’t matter if most of these activities will lead to a hearty portion of mulled wine and probably a couple of hot whiskeys, you will be secure in the fact that you have exercised more than any of your other teammates that day.
Before you ask, bicep curls with a pint does not count as exercise, no matter if all the ladies love your bulging arms.
Curls are, of course, for the girls but the effect will probably be rendered ineffective if you have a little pot belly visible underneath your shirt.
No Roses after December 29
We know that they’re your favourite but let’s be honest, you don’t touch them for the other 11 months of the year so we think that you can do without them. Believe it or not, the number one cause of vomiting and exhaustion during January training is the over indulgence in Roses over the Christmas period.*
Don’t try and cheat and switch to other brands like Celebrations and Quality Street either; you’re only fooling yourself.
*A completely made up fact to illustrate our point…
Take at least one night off (cans at home optional)
Christmas is actually one of the busiest times of the year for people with constant reunions and visits from relatives taking up much of your time. We might as well just say it, you’re more than likely going to spend more than a few nights in your local watering hole and the quicker you come to terms with that, the easier it will be for everyone.
But it is important to give your body (and wallet) a chance to recover and mend itself in preparation for your upcoming exercise. A good way to ensure this is to boycott your local for one day and spend some time at home with a bag of cans with your family and the TV remote to watch Home Alone or Elf.
Tweak a hamstring in the opening training to give yourself more time to get fitter
Yes, we know the whole point of training is to get fit but let’s be honest, if you go back training without any base fitness, it’s not going to be an easy day for you. A handy little move we have perfected over the years is to feign a minor injury that will keep you out of training but not have people sending you get well soon cards.
Our personal favourite is the hamstring tweak. Just do a little sprint and pull up sharply while clutching the back of your thigh, and make sure you put on a grimace of pain and hobble on one leg.
You now have an extra two weeks to build up your fitness and avoid those heavy running sessions. An added bonus is the fact that this can be an ongoing problem over the next few months and can hinder your training (when you need a little break).
Make sure that the rest of the team are eating and drinking as much as you are
If everyone is in the same boat body shape-wise, they can’t punish you on your own. Make sure that everyone else on your team is indulging in the same amount as you and January training will get a whole lot easier.
Set up a Whatsapp group, add all of your teammates to it and arrange a couple of ‘social’ gatherings over the Christmas period. Quietly encourage a trip to the local takeaway after the nights out you have but steer clear of the fast food yourself.
Some of your team may pack in the hurling/football in favour of their new party boy lifestyle, but that’s a risk you will have to take to survive your return to training.
Trick the manager into thinking he promised you an easy run at the start of the year
The chances are the manager of your team is going to frequent the local just as much as you are over the Christmas period and the chances are you're going to end up deep in conversation about the time he controversially started you at corner-back or how you're definitely going to win the Intermediate next year.
If you happen to discover him a little worse for wear, trick him into promising that pre-season training will be an easy ride to ensure that everyone sticks together at the start of the year and record the conversation for posterity, to be used against him as soon as he orders the first post-to-posts of the New Year on January 3.
It's easily done...
Clip via Hat Trick