Thursday, March 14, 2013

Ain't Singin' The Winter Blues

It seems like everyday, especially in the winter, I read a handful of blog titles that bemoan why we're all gathered here in the first place.  For some reason, the "I HATE RUNNING RIGHT NOW" headlines clutter our blog atmosphere this time of year like Senior Citizen Discounts around my gym's track.  And the truth is, I get it ... I looooooathe winter ... but it's no reason to quit training.

I was in Chicago this past week at my Corporate Headquarters, and I'm always amazed at the amount of resistance expressed to physical fitness when I meet an out of shape co-worker I haven't seen in a while.  It usually goes ... "Hey man ... so I heard you ran another marathon ... what's wrong with you?"  This query, of course, while we take the elevator to the SECOND floor because of our bad knees ... after waddling back inside from the ice-cold winds we braved to suck down that last smoke ... all while enjoying our third trip through the breakfast bar???  (Um, there's usually nothing wrong with me dude ... that's the point)  We are just bombarded by so much negativity when it comes to our physical fitness and running.  Like a lone blossoming flower in the middle of your spring garden, all of the weeds try to strangle and snuff it out.  It really takes a special person to hammer through the days when our bodies just don't wanna move in an uplifting direction on their own, all without adding the splash of the less than positive influence of others.

I've long been a believer that we really learn more about ourselves when our bodies are tired and uninterested in our scheduled training.  High energy levels and fresh legs often mask our weaknesses and can, at times, give us a false sense of who we are as runners.  Forcing ourselves to get out there and "do it anyway" on those "blah" days reinforces mental toughness and reminds us that our bodies can overcome, even when our will-power is lacking.  Obviously I'm not talking about running while your injured ... that should always be taken seriously, and sometimes requires a break.  But it seems that many times we take the easy way out and don't
"power through" when we get a little fatigued or afraid of the winter conditions.  We're not feelin' it, so we just shut it down for a day or two ... or six.   Funny thing is though, when we can't build to our typical speed or performance in an upcoming race, we have the audacity to question ourselves with, "Man, I have no idea why I didn't run better than that!"  Really, no idea?

It's not easy, but I've just found that if I'll at least do something ... anything ... it will usually kick me in the butt, and I sometimes end up having one of my best workouts.  Some mornings I can barely open my eyes, but if I just force myself to gradually start the movements, before long I feel better and I'm off and on my way!  And let's face it, I'm no one's running hero and certainly nothing special, but you don't run 3,000 miles in back-to-back years without overcoming some of those days when you're just not "feelin' it".  If we run long enough, we all eventually have to push back when our bodies resist.  Learning how to handle these days can sometimes be the difference in less than your best, and a great race.

So hopefully as the cold drags on and on, and winter seems to just never end, you're finding in yourself that little something extra it takes to conquer the winter blues.  If I can do it, you certainly can do it.  It's always darkest before the dawn ... and winter's almost over ... we're almost home! Bring on spring!!! Hang in there and have a great weekend!
... be great today!


  1. Nice post Jim. I'm usually mentally tough but a couple weeks ago my post on daily mile was "FU Mother Nature" but I was still out there and didn't just give up. By the way, most people I know think I'll be in a wheelchair when I retire from all my running. Little do they know I'll be out being active while they are stuck home with bad knees. Take care.

  2. Great post. One thing I sometimes notice is that some blogs seem to complain about the weather constantly - I understand complaining some, but otherwise just stop talking about it. Or move to a warmer climate. I guess I can't say much since I have it better than pretty much everyone in the US besides maybe San Diego, Arizona or Miami. That is one thing that I'll be glad to stop reading about when spring and summer weather hits. And I better not hear about how it's too hot come summer - serenity now!

    side note, but I posted a bunch of Sharapova pics for you lol

  3. I don't think I will ever not want to exercise to stay healthier. It took a big kick in the butt to get me here (gall bladder surgery) but it was a kick that changed my life for the better. When I see people who can barely walk and huff and puff I am amazed they don't do something about it. Anything! And there's nothing wrong with winter running. Although last weekend's taste of spring (sadly not while I was running) was pretty terrific.

  4. I absolutely live for running and live a runner's life 100%. I get a lot of abuse and negative vibes daily but always come back with some positive responses. I can clearly see how much more I can handle so much better than the non exercisers. Even youngsters can't keep up with my pace of life and 4 to 5 hours sleep on average. Being fit and in shape rocks!

  5. Karl Meltzer, a very accomplished 100 miler intentionally tries to suffer as much as possible. He soaks his shoes in water before a long run or dumbs dirt into his shoes or wears lots of layers on a hot day. He runs when the weather is the worst. The more we learn how to suffer and persevere during training, the better we do in races. Great post!

  6. AMEN. I am always telling my runners: JUST START. Tell yourself it's for 10 minutes. Put on your clothes, and start your workout. Obviously, once you start, almost nobody wants/is ready to stop.

    It's amazing how our brains fall for the same.stupid.trick, again and again.

    Amazing, but also amazingly useful!!

  7. I was watching tennis today- Sharapova vs kirilenko, also known as Russia vs Russia lol. Sharapova wins!

  8. The weather doesn't bother me at all. I run no matter how hot or cold it gets. If it's really bad out or dangerous out, I dont run. Simple as that. No time to whine about it. :)


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