Winter is here. The sun disappears by 4 o’clock, the temperatures dip below freezing, the sidewalks freeze and so does my snot and eyelashes. Just the other night, I thought about sticking heat packs down my leggings, but instead opted for multiple layers. So far my record is four top layers and three bottoms, including one toque, one balaclava and two pairs of socks. The dreariness of the season makes running workouts feel torturous some days; not all days, but some days. I can tell you that when the clock hits 4:30, it’s the end of a long work day, the sun is long gone from the sky, the mercury in the thermometer is falling and your workout calls for a two hour endurance run, a warm fire, with a warm blanket, and a warm drink sounds much more enticing. These winter days make me feel like an old, frumpy beast just lugging myself around, sometimes questioning why I’m choosing to torture myself. I have no idea why people start resolutions to better themselves in the dead of winter when it feels like you’re suffocated by 24 hour darkness and a constant chill. It’s mad to think any one of us feels inspired, motivated or charged to take on a new challenge with spunk and pizzaz, or whatever. In fact last year I didn’t run outside until February. I didn’t think people ran outside in the snow – it seemed almost preposterous. Being an island girl and growing up in a climate that consists of the rainy, rainer, less rainy and sprinkling showers seasons, I was spoiled by good running conditions all year long. Well, since moving to the interior I’ve rode and ran in almost every possible weather condition from hail to snow, rain, lightning, hurricane winds, sleet, and 40 degree heat to minus 25 degree cold. When I first started training I hated the terrain and the weather here. The winters are freeze-your-snot cold, the summers are ice-in-your-shorts scorching hot, the hills are long and steep and the winds are ferocious and constant. But I’ve built a lot of character and a bit of grit from these adventures. It is one hell of a way to start testing your mental strength and commitment, and to really see if you’re cut out for an Ironman triathlon. Instead of hating it now, I embrace it and learn to love it.
As the New Year trods on and people’s resolutions fade away, some of us will just keep trudging on, chasing our delusional dreams. Sometimes it’s the only thing that will keep you going. Here’s to many more cold, dark and lonely runs and plenty more suffer grinder fests in solitude on the spin bike.