Raising Resilient Athletes


Holiday season as an Athlete

Andrea_Henkel_Burke_Holiday season as an Athlete

Winter athletes need to adjust to the holiday season, and summer athletes during the usual vacation times. But, in reality, all athletes are year-round.

Every yes comes with a no. We can not have it all, which is okay. We don´t need it all or even want it all. It´s fulfilling to have a passion like sports and be able to live this passion. Making some compromises for a dream shouldn't be a hard thing. The nice part for young athletes is that in the early years of an athletic career, compromises around the holidays do not really necessary unless long travels are involved. Holidays are for young athletes often an opportunity to level up in training because there is no school.

If there is the feeling of a little cutting back on the normal family Holiday routine, it´s worth making aware of the reason for the compromise. What is it a young athlete is saying yes to when saying no to something else around the Holidays? One more hour under the Christmas tree vs. the chance to celebrate an athletic success and memories for life? When young athletes have the feeling they are missing out, I like to have them look at what exactly they compromise. It´s often just planted in their heads that an athlete can not celebrate a normal Christmas. Which leads to the question of what is normal. There are many ways to celebrate the Holidays.

I personally liked my “excuse” that I “have to” train on December 24th and 26th. At one point, it would be just too much food and cookies, so it doesn´t even taste good anymore. With some pre and post-exercise, everything even tastes better, and it feels so cozy to hang out in a nicely decorated apartment or house when I know it´s time to hang.

This brings us to an important question. What´s with all this food? Can athletes have the Christmas menu? I say yes. The meal at Christmas might be even better than some other meals throughout the year. A Christmas treat is something athletes shouldn´t cut off. 

When getting older and racing internationally, it might get trickier to be with family over Christmas or other Holidays. But at this point, it might be harder for the family members than for the athletes themself. The focus for winter athletes is on training and racing. It´s the middle of the season, and the highlights, like the Olympics or World-championships, are usually not far.

And traveling athletes are normally good at making it somehow cozy for a couple of hours with their “team family.”

I loved when I was at the beginning of December in Sweden. There was a Holiday vibe, which I probably never would have experienced if I would not have chosen to be an athlete. I might said no to some Christmas market visits, but I said yes to experiencing Advent in different countries. Sometimes I had the desire to go to one of those cozy Christmas markets all over Europe. But let´s be honest, trading some glogg (which isn´t something a young athlete would miss anyway) with awesome, fun races at great places isn´t a bad deal.

So just in case, there is this hint of blame that an athlete might not be able to celebrate the Holidays, here is my idea. Find out what's really missing! What´s the thing that your athlete would need, to be able to say at the end this was a great Christmas? Finding this special detail and including it somehow often makes it possible to feel that they are not missing out.

Holidays can even be stressful. Many of you can agree with that. As an athlete, there is a clear structure, which almost makes it easier and nicer to relax.

With this said, I wish everyone Happy Holidays, fun training, and good luck competing like a pro.

Do you have a Dream? Keep going towards it :)


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