On discovering a love for Winter

Winter has always been a grumpy time of year for me. As the nights draw in and the cold sinks deeper, my mood takes a turn for the worse. Every year as September approaches and the season starts to change, I find myself in a state of panic- how will I survive this time? Over the years I’ve invested in a daylight alarm clock, dozens of warm jumpers and  pairs of socks, but still the colder months have remained a miserable time.
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I think I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder- I’m far less productive, happy and motivated in the colder months, and it seems to be down to the lack of good quality sunlight. In the UK it’s often cloudy and grey, meaning you can often go a few days without seeing the sun. It’s a recipe for distinct grouchiness.
Nonetheless, I’ve found this Winter to be far less horrific- though to say I’ve enjoyed it would be taking things a step too far. And the common factor? Running. Usually my running takes a back seat in Winter, and that’s precisely why I signed up to a Spring race- to have that commitment. I’d actually expected forcing myself outside in the cold and bitter weather to be a recipe for disaster, but it’s had the complete opposite effect.
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Maybe it’s as simple as the endorphins us runners rely on just as heavily as we do caffeine and peanut butter. Maybe it’s just spending time outdoors, more often than not running during the few available daylight hours instead eating lunch at a desk. Or maybe it’s noticing the small, incremental changes that take place in my city as the seasons change. Like the sky getting slightly lighter each week as I set out from the office in the evening; or the cygnets in Hyde Park turn gradually into fluffy, grey swans before finally turning white. Running has become an act of mindfulness and meditation; I think about everything and nothing, and I am truly present.
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Winter training, of course, has not been how I romanticized it in my head, but that’s part of the beauty of it- and moreover, it’s character building. The commitment to a plan has been transformational- I have to just get out there, even when it’s cold, rainy and frankly there are a thousand things I’d rather be doing.  One of those biggest things I’ve learnt so far is that willpower is like a muscle, and that there’s a certain empowerment in doing shit you don’t feel like doing. And at the end of the day, its been transformative for me to commit to something greater and trust in the process. And the endorphins.
What’s your favourite thing about winter training?
 Lots of love,
Pippa
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10 thoughts on “On discovering a love for Winter

  1. People always seem to think I’m nuts for training through the winter for Spring marathons, and I basically point out exactly what you just said. I feel like my SAD symptoms would be a LOT worse if not for running. In addition to the things you list, training through the winter for a Spring goal is an implicit reminder, every day I go out for a run, that there is light at the end of the tunnel, that there is the promise of better days ahead. Having that Spring race to look forward to and WORK for just helps me pass the time and feel constructive during such an aimless time of year. Honestly, with that in mind, I don’t know how anyone can NOT train for Spring races!

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  2. Gorgeous pictures!!! I have to admit, I normally love winter because I love winter sports. This winter, I was not a fan of winter because it was too warm for much snow, so limited skiing for me! But lots of good training, so that was a bonus. I hope your calf is feeling better!

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  3. My favorite thing about winter training is the mountains. I live in a seriously gorgeous area, and on sunny days when the mountains are covered in snow… well, it’s hard to get a better view than that. Those days kind of make all the cold, soggy days of bad air worth it.

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  4. I agree, living in the grey and gloomy uk I can’t say I enjoy the winter but running has certainly helped the autumnal gloom and made dreary February less depressing. Whether it is getting outside in the daylight or simply seeing the signs of Spring or just having something to do to help pass the time which makes the difference I don’t know. I’m just aware that the winter seems shorter than it did in my pre-running days. Best thing- seeing snowdrops and primroses in the woods, a sure sign that Spring is on its way.

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