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15 Triathlon-Themed Holiday Celebrations

Put a little holiday spirit in your training this year.

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Every year, Elizabeth Renfrey goes for a Christmas Day bike ride with her father, William, and brother, Simon. The holiday ride started in 2012, and has become one of the family’s favorite traditions.

Elizabeth Renfrey and her family go for a bike ride every Christmas.

“Before our local lake shut down for year-round operations, we used to do a New Year’s Day swim, too,” added Renfrey. “It was freezing!”

Though many people associate the winter holidays with sleeping in and drinking eggnog in flannel pajamas, tri-themed holiday traditions are growing in popularity. Some are family-oriented like the Renfrey’s annual bike ride, while others bring together members of the larger community, like the Arizona Santa Run, a 5K race where the swag bags include a full Santa suit for every runner. These traditions are a great way to bring fun and fitness into your festivities.

Whether you’re celebrating Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, the New Year (or all of the above), consider adding a little swim-bike-run to your merriment with one of these holiday celebrations.

Holiday Fun for Triathletes

1. Take the 8 Crazy 8Ks Challenge

On each of the eight nights of Hanukkah, run 8 kilometers (or, if you’re looking for more, 8 miles). 

2. Do the 12 Swims of Christmas Workout

Sing it with us! On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me / a 75 free… Get the workout here.

3. Go a Carolin’

Get your running buddies together and plot out a route that hits the houses of people who could use a little holiday spirit. Perform your best “Frosty the Snowman” in the driveway as they watch from the front porch.

4. Practice the Jewish concept of hiddur mitzvah

Hiddur means “beautiful, and mitzvah means “good deed”. Practice it by picking up trash on your favorite running route, volunteering with a trail maintenance program, or donating to a cleanup project at your favorite open-water swim location.

5. Climb the 12Ks of Christmas

Want a fun and festive challenge? Try running or riding your favorite climbs until you accumulate 12,000 feet (or roughly 3650 meters) of elevation gain.

6. Build a festive playlist for your trainer ride

Instead of listening to the same old music during your trainer ride, try a curated holiday playlist, like this Kwanzaa mix from Spotify.

7. Put a new spin on holiday light displays

Who says twinkly lights are only for your house? Get your family together for a bike-decorating extravaganza, complete with glow sticks, battery-powered lights, and all the wheel lights you can get your hands on. Take your bright bikes out for a nighttime ride to see the neighborhood light displays.

8. Make a workout of holiday errands

Take a backpack as you ride your bike to pick up holiday gifts from your favorite local shops, or run to the post office to drop your Christmas cards in the mailbox. 

9. Be a kid again

Remember those epic snowball fights you had when you were a kid? Bring those back by challenging the whole family to a park-wide snowball fight. Start building – and start running!

10. Reflect on your reason for the season

Spend segments of your swim workout or easy run in active meditation on certain aspects of the holiday, whether it’s one mile for each of the seven principles of Kwanzaa (known as the Nguzo Saba) or a swim set where you think up your goals for the new year ahead.

11. Wear your holiday best (or worst)

Bring reindeer antlers for your tri buddies to wear on a group ride, or host an ugly-sweater run. Buy a holiday-themed swimsuit and wear it to Masters swim. It’s the holidays – go all-out with the tinsel and sparkles!

12. Take the plunge

January 1 has been designated as “Polar Plunge Day,” celebrated by taking a dip in the cold, freezing waters of your local ocean, lake, river or pond. Check to see if an organized event is taking place near you – many of these freezing swims support charity efforts (and provide safety and supervision, should things get a little too cold for your liking).

13. Pay it forward

If Santa was especially good to you this year, consider sharing your abundance with others. If you got a new bike, donate your old one to help someone else’s multisport dreams come true; ditto for wetsuits or running shoes, which can find new life with organizations like One World Running.

14. Say thank you

As you reflect on the previous year, think of the people who have been instrumental to your journey as an athlete – and take the time to thank them. Some homemade cookies, a six-pack of winter ale, and a thank-you note can mean a lot to coaches, training buddies, and bike mechanics.

15. Run across the years.

Get a running start on the new year – literally – by starting a 5K run a few minutes before midnight. Have the champagne (or sparkling cider) waiting at the finish line and toast to the adventures ahead.