Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Winter Running Blues

It's been a long while since I've posted anything. There's lots of reasons for that, but none of them substantial. I guess it essentially comes down to the fact that I just haven't found the time or motivation. That's kind of the theme for me, as of late, and it's not a new development. When I take a good hard look at my past training(and general behavior) the month of December is definitely the one month that leaves me feeling like I accomplished nothing. Surely, I did something during December. What exactly was it? Sleeping? Boozing? Running? Sitting on my ass watching TV? Reading? Some of all of that, and unfortunately more of the dumb things than the good things. I did manage to finish a few of the books I never seemed to find the time to finish during the summer. But I also found myself up past midnight at a bar a bit too often, and I'd bet I watched more TV last month than I did the remaining 11 months of the year. Yuck.

Do I have SAD? Probably. Do the Holidays screw with my mind? Yes, I'm a scrooge. Did the weather influence my desire to run? A bit. Did the darkness? Sure. But I already knew this stuff, it happens every year. It comes down to the fact that I just have to take it in stride, and weather the storm.

When I look at the numbers, and my general fitness, I actually did a pretty good job of handing December in 2010. I definitely had my rough patches, but I definitely put down more miles this December than I ever have before.

Running is a weird activity for me. In nerd talk, it has a extremely large moment of inertia. Once I get that ball rolling, I can keep it going and really find myself in a rhythm and accomplish a lot of things I never would have thought possible. BUT, if I slack off for a while and get out of that rhythm I find it rather difficult to get the ball rolling again. My main goal at the end of the year is to just keep that ball rolling. I know I'm not going to find a rhythm. I know I'll look back at the month and feel like I didn't do enough. All I can really hope for is to come out still feeling like not all was lost.

Trail (and even road) running during the winter is actually quite a rewarding activity at times. Snow, Ice, cold, and darkness all combine to turn what would be a routine, boring romp around a park or well known trail into an unpredictable, sometimes rewarding, sometimes mentally defeating adventure. Unpredictability is the name of the game. Overdressed, underdressed, not enough light, wrong shoes, forgotten clothing, defective equipment/clothing.... the list goes on and on. These are the issues that plague winter running.

Running on a summer evening is simple: Shorts, Shoes, water bottle.

Before embarking on a winter run one needs to fret about what kind of 'traction' they'll need (shoes? screw shoes? snowshoes?) How many layers? Gloves? Stocking cap? It can get exhausting. My approach? If you know me you can probably guess. Throw all that crap in the back of the truck and grab what I need, and hope its clean (I probably do 3X more laundry in the winter than in the summer). It doesn't always turn out well. Sometimes it turns out straight up miserable. That's winter running though.

Although I make it sound really complicated, the amazing thing is that winter running eases my mind better than any single thing on earth. Running down a dark snow trail, hearing to the crunching sound with every step, looking at every breath as it rises past the beam of my headlamp, the sting of the cold against my cheeks and ears. It brings you in the moment. It becomes easy to focus on the task at hand, and forget about all of those other things that really don't matter.

Enough feelings talk. I needed to put that in writing, so that I can reference it in 11 months. December's over, and I'm feeling pretty damn good to be honest. I finally replaced the digital camera that met it's demise during a disastrous boating expedition in Alaska last summer. As a result, I've made a habit of carrying it with me on my runs in an effort to capture some of the more interesting scenery I encounter during my time on the trails (I'll never claim to be a good photographer, but they should be enjoyable, none the less).

Berkley Lake
Mount Falcon
Mount Falcon
Mount Falcon
Green Mountain

Matthews Winters
Matthews Winters

Parting Thoughts? Well, I'll lie like I always do and say that I'm gonna try and do this blog thing more. Oh, I have a 50M coming up in a month from today! Let's hope that December was as decent I think it was. Can't beat weekend running in CA during the winter. That's one way of combating the Winter Running Blues.


  1. You should go back out to CA for Leona Divide 50 in April. Should be a good race!

  2. I think you have a great eye...For taking pictures that is! More please. Cheers!