Pro Athletes Take Breaks During the Holidays, Too

Kelly O'Mara
by Kelly O'Mara
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Pro Athletes Take Breaks During the Holidays, Too

While they have to stay focused most of the year, even professional athletes celebrate the holidays. If they can’t celebrate in full, they celebrate when and how they can.

To be their best, athletes need to take breaks and recover during their off-season. Most of us regular people tend to take our own break from working out this time of year, too. But instead of wondering if we’re doing it right, why not ask the pros how they do it?

Here, some Under Armour pro athletes share their plans for the holidays, how they do their off-season and what they splurge on. One tip we can all heed: A little time off to relax and recharge is important.

MIKAELA MAYER (BOXING)

A bronze medalist at the world championships and U.S. Olympian has had to sacrifice a lot of family time because of her career. So this year, she plans to host Christmas at her house and invite everyone over.

“Every year is so different,” she says. Now that she’s made her pro debut earlier this year, it gives her a little time to pick and choose fights. While she’s still training hard for her next big fight on December 9 at Madison Square Garden, she’ll be able to take a break after that. “It’ll give me a little bit of time to enjoy the holidays,” she said. Then, she’ll get back to training camp right after the new year starts.

When she says a “little bit of time” she really means a few days. “It’s so easy to lose it,” she says. “I learned I can’t take more than a week off.” After that she has to start running, weight-training and getting into the gym at least three days per week. “Otherwise, it’s too hard to get it back,” she says. Mayer used to take two full weeks off after the end of the season, “and it felt like two months,” she says. So now, it’s fight, a little break for the holidays and then back to training.

Appropriate reaction whenever Gramps puts his body on the line #fortheteam

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PATTY MILLS (BASKETBALL)

The San Antonio Spurs’ point guard doesn’t even get Christmas Day off. “We typically have a game on Christmas or even Thanksgiving,” he says, which means he’ll sometimes have to celebrate the holidays the day before or after with friends and family. “It can be unconventional, but we always make it work,” he says.

When the NBA season is over, though, Mills finally gets to visit his family in his native Australia and then heads to his home in Hawaii for a “much-needed break,” he says. “I save the splurging for the off-season when I’m back in Australia or Hawaii. In Australia there are lots of treats that I can’t find in America. I also can’t resist my family’s traditional cooking!” Mills usually takes a complete break from training for a bit and then eases back into workouts throughout the summer.

If he’s playing with the Australian national team, he’ll tailor his workouts toward playing with them during his off-season. He also has routine meetings with his training team to check up on the goals he set for himself at the beginning of the season. “I’ve always made it a habit to set personal goals for myself as well. I think it’s important to do this to help you stay on track throughout the year,” he said.

His year might be a little different from the rest of us — working hard through the holidays, with no break, but the reward comes when the NBA season is over. It’s like Christmas in summer. “There is nothing better than relaxing and unwinding in the beautiful setting of Hawaii on the beach or visiting family on the islands of the Torres Strait,” he says.


READ MORE> TRAIN LIKE AN NBA PLAYER — WITH TIPS FROM THE ATLANTA HAWKS’ KENT BAZEMORE


The real is back.. #beantalk

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MOHAMED SANU (FOOTBALL)

While we’re all watching football over the holidays, the football players have to be playing it. That’s why the Falcons’ wide receiver makes sure he trains during the holidays. He’ll visit family if possible and take a small vacation if he can, but he’ll definitely train.

He’ll also eat whatever he wants during the holidays, “because that’s the only time I get to enjoy family and friends,” he said. And, he’ll splurge on one big materialistic thing he’s had his eye on: a watch or a car, for example.

Year-round, though, he tries “to be consistent with my training and eating habits,” he said. He doesn’t eat sugar. So, at the end of the year, he’ll take stock of how well he’s done sticking to those habits, any mistakes he’s made, and if he can eliminate issues before he gets back out on the field for the next season.

About the Author

Kelly O'Mara
Kelly O'Mara
Kelly is a professional triathlete and reporter outside San Francisco, where she is an on-call producer for the local NPR station. Her works appears regularly in espnW, Competitor, Triathlete and California Magazine. She also co-hosts the podcast, Locker Room Talk, for WiSP: The Global Women’s Sports Network. And she trains. A lot.

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