I remember as a kid going to a sports training camp where I was told the infamous tale of Phil Smyth, long term point guard of the 1980s Australian men’s basketball team. I’m sure his success as a three time NBL championship winner and Australian representative was due to years of dedication and hard work, but in my young head that day I only heard one thing: Phil would always train twice on Christmas Day. He knew everyone else would be taking it easy on the holiday, so he worked twice as hard.
This blew my young mind, more so because I had no idea how you could possibly fit in one training, let alone two, between consuming triple wafers, pudding, and playing backyard cricket with my sister and older brothers. I imagined him setting the alarm clock for an early start, ensuring he gave himself time to carefully assemble his comb-over (his was the best in the business) before arriving at an empty basketball stadium to pound out a training session, perhaps dash home for a bit of pudding and triple wafer, and then back again in the afternoon.
I have never forgotten it. Now long retired myself, I still see Christmas Day in a new light: what can I do when everyone else is taking it easy? These days, I cycle. And early morning on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and even New Year’s Day are simply the best time in the year to get out. No one else is around; the world is still asleep and mostly hungover. The roads are beautiful, and they are all mine. It is my Christmas joy.
Try it this year. Take it easy in the evenings, set the alarm clock, and explore the awesomeness of early morning Christmas Day. Just make sure you give yourself enough time to ‘Smyth’ it – those comb-overs don’t do themselves.
Monique is an avid cyclist and Christmas exercise enthusiast.