How to find time to run during the holidays

Holidays are certainly joyous, but family gatherings, holiday parties, and office functions can bump running right off your to-do list. Fortunately, you don't need to spend a lot of time to maintain your fitness during this busy time of year. Our advice? Split working out into 20-minute chunks and you'll make staying on track seem less daunting. The following 20-minute (or less) workouts cover all the bases of strength, speed, and endurance well enough so you can start the New Year strong.

How to build a better body

Build Endurance: BREAK IT UP
Stringing together several 20-minute runs across a single day can boost your stamina. Identify a day that's destined to be booked with chores. Go for an easy 20-minute run, spend the next hour or two running errands or doing things around the house, then head out for another 20-minute run. Do up to three of these segments once per week.

Boost Energy: RUN, DON'T NAP

Thinking of curling up on the couch to rest your eyes? Lace up and head out for an easy run instead. Unless you're chronically sleep deprived, going for a run is likely to perk you up more than a short nap will.

The runner's holiday survival guide

Increase Strength: HEAD FOR THE HILLS

Running uphill helps build strength and stamina. Find a nearby hill. After a five-minute jog, run up the incline. At the top, walk for 30 to 60 seconds, then run back down. Walk for one to two minutes. Repeat the sequence two to three times. Do the workout once a week, adding an additional one to two repeats.

Build Speed: GO HARD
Go to a local track or jogging trail with distance markers. Jog for five minutes. Run at an easy pace for half a lap (or one-eighth of a mile). Note how long it took to run the half-lap. Walk the remainder of the lap. Continue walking for two minutes. Repeat the sequence two to four times, each time aiming to complete the run portion of the lap one to two seconds faster. Do this once a week, adding segments as you feel comfortable.

Seven-minute strength-training plan

Make up a home-gym circuit: Walk (or run) the stairs for one minute, do push-ups for 30 seconds, walk for one minute, do crunches for 30 seconds, walk for one minute, do walking lunges for 30 seconds, walk for one minute, lift hand weights for 30 seconds, then walk for one minute. Repeat as time allows.

So, what's your best advice for staying fit during the holiday season?

Susan Rinkunas is an associate editor at Runner's World, a magazine (and website) that informs, advises, and motivates runners of all ages and abilities-and we mean it. Her blog on Yahoo! Shine offers tips on running technique, nutrition and weight loss, shoes and apparel, and balancing fitness and life.

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