Daley Thompson, double Olympic Decathlon gold medallist once famously said he always trained twice on Christmas Day because he knew his rivals were only training once or having the day off. Training twice gave him the edge over his rivals. But do you really have to run on Christmas Day to be the best?

Been There and Done That

Photo by Mark Shearman, Athletics Images

I admit I’ve been there and done that too. I wanted to be the best too. My coach always scheduled Christmas Day off but many times I insisted on training as usual.

I remember one Christmas Day running around the empty streets of Harrow (not random – it’s where we happened to be living that year). It was bitterly cold, the wind was biting and the was rain stinging my face. It was my least favourite session of 5 x 6m30 reps. Every house had their Christmas lights twinkling brightly. Inside I could see the “normal people” enjoying the festivities in the warmth and dry. Even I half wondered if I was slightly crazy!

Being the best is not about one day

As a coach I can now look back on those previous Christmas Day training sessions with a different perspective. Whether you run or rest on one particular day makes very little difference. Contrary to what we all like to think it’s not one killer session on one day that counts most. It’s about training hard, consistently over days, weeks, months and years. That’s what makes you the best.

Believe you are the best

One of the secret’s to Daley Thompson’s phenomenal success was not his level of training. It was his understanding of need to believe you are the best. And even more importantly, making your rivals believe you are the best too. His well-known pronouncements about Christmas Day training were just another example of this.

I realise now this was the real training benefit from my Christmas Day session in Harrow. It proved my determination and confidence to myself. It made me believe I was better than my competitors. But I also realise I didn’t need to train on Christmas Day to achieve this.

It takes far more commitment and determination to train every day. Day after day, week after week not just one day in December. Build your self-belief from each and every good session that you run. And then rest on Christmas Day. Because if you really believe you are the best then you can take the day off and STILL beat your rivals.

Running on Christmas Day

These days running on Christmas Day is about Parkrun in a Santa suit with the family. But then my best days are behind me.

Do you need to run on Christmas Day to be the best? No. Being the best is about more than one day’s training or not. It’s about commitment, determination and above all, self-belief.

Every day – not just on Christmas Day.