Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Winter Blues

*Sigh.* I suppose it's finally here. Winter. When I was a kid I used to love the winter. I loved snow, I loved the excitement of that occasional day when school would be cancelled and we could play for hours in the snow building igloos, forts, sledding...now I hate winter. Since I've gotten back into running I've really come to loathe winter - all the extra clothes you have to wear to go running, being forced onto a treadmill when the sidewalks are impassable, having super dry skin all the time because of multiple showers every day. Winter sucks.

Anyway - this post isn't to bitch about the weather. There's nothing I can do about the cold days/nights and the inevitable snow we'll get here in Chicago...eventually (hasn't snowed here yet). No, this post is about something else entirely - but it's related to winter. I think I have the 'winter blues' when it comes to running. My last race was Thanksgiving Day and for the foreseeable future, I have no races to look forward to. I had a great 2012 running season. Two half-marathons, a couple of 5Ks, my first 8K and the crowning achievement of my first marathon. The only problem is this: for almost the entirety of this year, I've had something to focus on - whether it was a half-marathon or marathon or some other race, there was constantly that thing coming up that served for motivation. Now it's not there, and I'm seriously struggling to get excited about working out.

I know what I need to do - I need to make a plan. Find some race in the Spring to start training for. I know this, but I lack even the motivation to put together a plan. I feel worn-out. I've contemplated taking a break from running for a couple of weeks just to recharge the batteries, but then I think about all the progress I made this year and what I stand to lose if I just stop running. I know it doesn't disappear instantly, but it's a mental thing. I just can't seem to bring myself to stop running completely. I have been scaling back the running over the past month and focusing more on weights but even my weight days are a chore now.

Maybe others of you out there have had this problem: when I have a plan, I stick to it religiously. When I don't have a plan, everything becomes hard. By 'hard' I mean, I push hard. Too hard. All the time. All my runs become steady-state or clock runs. My weights are hard. I know this about myself and yet I seem not to be able to hold back. If I sound like I'm bragging I'm not - in fact, I dislike this about myself. As disciplined as I can be with a plan, I'm equally undisciplined without one. This is yet another reason to find a race, make a plan, and start training smartly.

I still haven't decided what to do. Might take some time off AND find a race, make a plan, etc. I gotta change something though because the ways things are going now isn't likely to lead anywhere good. The main reason for this post was just to write it out. I feel better.


  1. A plan is always good, and I can relate to pushing too hard when you don't have a plan. I have a spring marathon and I am excited about cold winter training (as opposed to hot summer training). Also, I am hoping for some snow so I can train on my x-country skis!

  2. I know exactly what you mean about lacking motivation. As soon as I finished my last run of 2012 it was like the motivation part of my brain shut down. I had been doing 60+ miles per week and all of a sudden hitting 4 miles per day seemed very tough. Also I have become very intolerant of the crappy conditions outside. I've gone through this a few winters in a row now and I recognize it to be natural and ok. Its winter time, even if we had a great training plan it would be tough to make it out the door dressed in 4 heavy layers into the darkness. When we feel like this I think it is important not to force things, not to get in to the habit of coercing ourselves into joyless running. Set some different goals, just try to run a certain number of days per week and don't pay too much attention to mileage. Try some different training, like 150meter sprints or fartlek runs. We're all in this together :)