Like many people, I adore December. It is my favorite time of the year. The anticipation leading up to the big day is exuberating. My mother-in-law's famous pumpkin pie and mince tarts and my favorite holiday foods that taste good to the lips but oh not so good for the hips are worth the pain to be dealt with later. The family reunion that is both blissful and anxiety filled but one I've come to appreciate with age is welcome with open arms.
Looking back, it was not always like that for me as an elite athlete. Back in the day, December was an extremely tough month. The tennis season normally started at the end of December which brings me out of my off-season hibernation in mid-November into a pre-season training mode. We would fly on Christmas Eve crossing the timeline to another continent that by the time we arrived at our destination we know not what day we were in.
Because of the buzz of the holiday season (the shopping, family gatherings, the foods, the parties), it was the only time of year that caused havoc in my training regimen. Not only was it hard to focus on the preparation for the up and coming tournament, but I also could not let myself completely relax to enjoy the festivities.
Over the course of my career on the tennis tour though, I learned a strategy consisting of 4 steps to getting the most out of my pre-season preparation and the enjoyment of the holiday season.
I used this time to sit with my coach to reflect on my performances of the year. While there may be some painful events and/ or performances that I did not care to revisit, it was an essential step to moving forward.
2. Reset & RebuildOnce the tears were dried and the ego was put to rest, we reset for the up and coming year with goals and objectives; tournament schedule; things to work on to improve; performance goals; fitness goals; health goals. This was probably the most important step for me in helping me push myself to work on things; to be a better version of myself from the year before.
3. Abiding by a training scheduleThis time of year is easy to get sidetracked with all the buzz and excitement of the holiday season. It is super important to show up mentally and in person. We would map out certain days of shorter practices so I could enjoy the festivities.
4. Indulge with pleasureI grew up in Asia where food is the center of every event and discussions. So, naturally I love food and I have never deprived myself of any food groups as long as it is done with moderation.
Beware. Be Safe. See you next week.