Happy Thanksgiving, Instabeat family! While you’re inevitably going to decrease your swim volume and up your food volume over the holidays (which is normal, healthy, and encouraged!), we know that if you’re anything like us you’re going to be a little anxious about still fitting in some workouts and not fully letting the food coma take over this weekend.

We asked our Team Instabeat professional swimmers and triathletes how they’ll be spending the holidays and to share their top tips for staying in shape this holiday season while balancing swimming with enjoying family time and everything else Thanksgiving has to offer. Here’s what they had to say…

Lauren Brandon, Ironman Champion:

“Typically my off season is around the holidays which means not much training and I get to enjoy all of the family fun festivities. We usually spend part of the holidays with my family in California and then the other part with my husband’s side in Texas. I love just being able to relax and have fun with our families and friends and not having to worry about getting a bunch of training in. I do still workout a little bit, but maybe just an easy run, bike, or swim each day. I also am not super strict with my diet and enjoy all of the different foods and drinks over the holidays, but I don’t overindulge. I still try to eat pretty healthy because I feel better if I still eat well and don’t have to much sugar, etc, but I don’t stress about having dessert and extra wine some nights. I definitely always look forward to my mom’s homemade cinnamon rolls!

During my off season, I will swim a few times a week and all at an easy pace. My Instabeat definitely stays in the blue/green and I won’t see any red until I get back to proper training in January. An easy swim for me would be 2000-3000 yards nice and easy, swimming whatever I want. When I get back to my regular schedule after the holidays, we begin putting in some fast sets into the training plan to help get the body moving again. I would recommend doing 10×50’s or 10×100’s fast as your main set, but wait until the Instabeat goes back to blue to start your next rep (you want to make sure you’re getting plenty of rest in between each 50 or 100). Just try to have fun with your training during the holidays and enjoy!”

Dan Daly, swim coach and Equinox H2O program founder:

“My wife, son and I spend Thanksgiving with my family in the Philadelphia suburbs, and Christmas and New Years in Budapest with my wife’s family. Thanksgiving is spent catching up with my hometown friends and family, and celebrating my birthday, Dec 1.

Since I’m not home with my family for Christmas, Thanksgiving is a big holiday. I come from a large family and we usually have dinner with 40+ people. Everyone contributes to dinner, but my uncle (a big swimmer) prepares the main dishes. In addition to two turkeys, he also prepares a Puerto Rican style roast pork shoulder, my favorite. 

My nutrition coaching philosophy is moderation and sustainability. I don’t overall indulge over the holidays, but do enjoy drinks with friends, and seasonal treats limited to these special events, like homemade pies in America, and specialty holiday baked goods in Hungary. 

Holiday travel includes cross training, and a reprieve from regular programming. I enjoy winter running, and exploring Budapest on foot, as well as training in different gyms, being creative with the equipment and space available. I look forward to training in different pools with friends, former teammates, and masters teams, particularly in Budapest, and the variety of world class training pools, some of which are outdoors and heated in the winter months. 

I have a short course yard pool at work, and often train solo, as my schedule permits. In Hungary, I train long course meters, with several former college teammates and their masters teams, several of whom are Olympic, collegiate, and masters champions. They hold me to a higher standard, and training there every Christmas for the last 15 years, reminds me of winter training trips in high school and college. Suffice to say, I’ll be in the red zone the first few workouts, using Instabeat!

Prior to thanksgiving dinner, I like to get a low volume, high intensity anaerobic power session in for about an hour. High intensity interval training can increase insulin sensitivity via the Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) effect. The perfect metabolic environment for an indulgent meal! 

Warm Up

500 yd freestyle easy – blue zone

400 yd IM drill – blue zone 

10×50 build up each to sprint – blue > green > red zones @1:00

Main Set 

10×200 freestyle @2:30 (allow for :15-:30) rest – each in the green zone peaking to red

Cool Down 

200 easy dropping back into the blue zone 

3600yd total

Post Thanksgiving is a low intensity steady state session. 60-90 green zone. This trains the fat oxidative system at an intensity that keeps you in the high end of the blue zone or low end of the green zone with a big intra-workout caloric expenditure. Great for shaking off some of the lethargy from all the tryptophan and red wine! 

5x 1650yds freestyle 

#1 easy – blue zone

#2 pull – buoy and fins – blue zone

#3 fins – green zone

#4 paddles – green zone

#5 easy – blue zone 

I find holiday travel to be a great opportunity shake up your routine with different workouts and training partners. I find it psychologically motivating to train in different environments and with different people, joining their workouts. You don’t always know what youve committed to, but never regret it once you’re done. It’s nostalgic to train again with former high school and college teammates in pools Ive been training and racing in for a couple decades.”

Sabine Hazboun, Olympic swimmer from Palenstine:

For me, family is always first! holidays are always with family if possible. We all gather, give many hugs and laugh. We never go anywhere actually, it is always at home. I love family spirit and gratitude, and that the holidays allow to you to slow down and appreciate everything.

Food is big part of the holidays. When I competed, I followed a strict low fat diet. Later on I went vegan for 4 years until I found out it was all about appreciating whatever is offered for you, improving the connection with your body and learning what you really need and not what you read was healthy. So when training, I try to eat what’s best to perform well and on holidays, it is okay to have sweets here and there.

During the holidays, it is best to go with the flow when it comes to swimming.

I love to swim endless laps if swimming without a plan.

If there’s a workout in mind, it looks like this: 

Warm-up: 500 combining strokes (maintaining the one green light in instabeat)

4x 25 underwater with fins

freestyle block: 


400 A2 (2 green lights)

2×200 (2 green lights)

4×100 (2 green lights)

4×50 red light 

200 easy

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