Where did Fall go? I mean seriously. It was cooling off for a couple weeks here in the Midwest and then all of the sudden there was snow and it was in the teens. No warning. Mother Nature gave us the middle finger and said "deal with it". So now what? I mean, my wife and I didn't even get a chance to get all the leaves off our lawn and I didn't get to do my final mow of the season. I am not going to lie, it was pretty depressing to not get that done. I was hoping to get in a few more cool rides through the dead trees, chasing daylight and some runs in the morning kicking the frost off the grass. But it seems like that will never happen now. We're dealt a cold hand of bitter temperatures and a dusting of snow that is not even impressive.
Alas, there is hope. For some of us at least. You see, to those who are dedicated to their sport find their way through the dark months of winter and keep pushing on, building, becoming stronger. Though, we all may not have the gear and gumption to ride or run outside, we bring our training inside to keep up with our necessary training. For some of us it's the adrenaline fix, the proverbial high we get from training. We need it. Without it we feel empty and shallow. Days off feel more like torture than some of the hardest training days.
If you're anything like me, though, I love running outside. There's something about the cold bite of the air as it dips below freezing that stings my lungs and makes me feel alive. It's one of those things that you either have or you don't. You can't teach yourself to love these winter months. You just have to learn to survive them. If you want some advice on how to get through them and see the light on the other end of the tunnel that is spring, stay positive. It's as simple as that. The harder you make these winter months, the longer it will feel. Take hold of the time you have around the holidays to spend with family and friends. Use them as motivation to help get you through as well.
If you really start to struggle with winter, never be afraid to take some time off. This is the best time of year to make the excuse and have it actually be worthwhile. Your body needs rest. But don't hang up the training completely. Give yourself that outlet. You need that fix. If you're a member of a gym, try out some classes. Spin classes are kind of lame in my book as I don't like the idea of spending time on a poorly designed bike that will never fit me properly, but it's a good way to take your mind off staring at a bike computer logging miles and recording heart rate data. Mix it up with some basketball or racquetball as well. Feel free to play some other sports that will still keep you active and putting in 'miles' without actually just running. You'll stay fit and be surprised how little fitness you will actually lose. At the same time, you will be building up those muscles around your joints that are often times forgotten in our endurance sports.
Don't look at winter as a time to dread, step back and look at it as a time to grow.