Christmas is a time for all of us to sit back, spend time with family and indulge on one too many mince pies. But for elite athletes who have to carefully manage their downtime, how does their Christmas compare?
We asked Rio Paralympian and British Paratriathlon Champion (2015, 2019), George Peasgood, how he spends his Christmas, what his go-to festive treats are and how he manages to balance his turkey with his training.
“I tend to forget about Christmas a little bit until the week of it. Just because, with my routine and training, I usually only focus on Christmas when I go home for my Christmas break,” Peasgood recalled.
“Christmas for me is a mental refresh. Every Christmas, bar a couple, has been spent at my mum and dad’s house and it’s always a massive family thing, and Christmas and Boxing Day are really busy. It’s time to be with family and, although this year is going to be difficult not seeing extended family, we’ll still be seeing them in a virtual way on Zoom and FaceTime.”
Like many others around the country, Peasgood has had to make sacrifices this festive season, saying: “This year, with everything that’s going on and wanting to minimise mixing households and all of that stuff, we’re having a bit of a quieter Christmas to protect myself, my parents and all my family.”
That doesn’t mean that the 25th won’t be full of festivities for Peasgood though. The Rio Paralympian is planning to spend Christmas Day with his parents, meaning he’ll still be able to enjoy his mother’s cooking for the big day.
“We have a post-run full English breakfast on Christmas Day. Me, my mum, dad and brother go for a run with the dog after doing stockings and some presents in the morning, then we come home and have a full-on English breakfast with everything you can imagine,” said Peasgood.
“We’re still getting everything that we would normally get, the Turkey from a family friend and special butcher’s sausages and all of that. My mum’s still very much in charge of the food.”
As for taking a well-earned break over the festive period, Peasgood will usually take Boxing Day off, recovering from the mountains of food the day before, watching Netflix and relaxing in his hot tub.
“Other than the off-season and travel, it’s usually the one day of the year that I’ll actually say I won’t do any form of proper training. It just gives me more of an opportunity to indulge and relax.
“It’s really important, we hold ourselves to our training schedules and put ourselves under a lot of pressure, so it’s important to not just let the body refresh, but also the mind. With this year being so different and a massive push towards supporting mental health, it’s extra special to allow ourselves that time and freedom to enjoy ourselves.”
Peasgood recognises how different it will be celebrating Christmas amidst the current pandemic but sees it as an opportunity to celebrate the positivity that has emerged from such a testing year.
“I just hope that everyone has a sensible but very merry Christmas,” he said. “It’s been a tough year for everyone, and I hope some people get the chance to at least see some family over video call and have a smile and a drink, and a cheers to the NHS and everyone who has done amazing things this year.”