Hello Darkness, my old friend
For the first time in my life, I notice the weather. I notice the rain. I notice waking up in darkness and I notice leaving the office in darkness.
I mean, I notice weather, but this is the first time I've really noticed it impact me and my activities and for the last two weeks, I've been seriously wondering why and now what do I do?
Well to find an answer or at least something to go on, I thought back to previous Novembers and what I was doing.
Last November, I was ending a long relationship, considering a new one, looking for a place to live, oh and changing my job. I had so much going on that I barely noticed I was running in the rain or that I hadn't felt actual daylight on my skin unless I wandered out of the office for a break.
The November before, I was training for Ironman Cozumel. I spent hours and hours holed up in my coaches garage with the heat cranked riding my bike listening to podcasts about how to be a more awesome person. I spent hours running on treadmills with sweatshirts on and doing hot yoga in winter pants, training for heat and feeling more or less like a badass.
And the November before that, I had JUST decided to train for Ironman Canada 2014 after an 8 year break from the distance. Every day felt like a miracle. "Holy shit, how am I ________?" (so hungry, so tired, still alive after swimming that far, still with legs attached to my body after that spin class, uninjured after running so much, so awesome at snot rockets now?). Fill in the blank with any, it was an exciting time and I had no clue what temperature it was outside.
This November, I'm one month back from the island of dreams (aka Hawaii), having filled my tank with vitamin D, neon and good vibes. Surely that's enough to sustain me till June? Somehow it doesn't feel like it. While I have some not-so-far-off goals and races planned next year and I'm doing all the training to make them happen, it's feeling hard. Hard to run in the dark, hard to focus during an indoor spin class and even a little bit hard to do simple things.
This is the first November without a major life distraction. OH! That makes sense. Don't get me wrong, I love my life. It's awesome. This is just the first time at this time of year there isn't some MAJOR thing going on. Absolutely nothing wrong with that, but now that I know, what do I do?
What do I do about it?
well, first I'm considering the basics
- be honest with my self - first step is acceptance!
- take vitamin D - at least 4000mg a day
- create a sustainable routine - if 5:30am swim doesn't feel like THE thing right now, why not 6:30am? or 7am? or doing only 1 5:30am practice instead of 3?
- resist the urge to drink late afternoon coffee even though it seems like the middle of the night
- eat vegetables and drink water, even though mac'n cheese is divine and even though water can be cold and boring
- get outside during my workday
and now I'm considering what would make a difference to ME specifically
- The buddy system. There are workouts where I crave to be alone and right now meeting a friend at the pool or at a class even if we're doing different workouts has been awesome
- stretching and restorative yoga. It feels nice and I notice the moment it gets cold out, I clench my muscles. This is helping me re-freaking-lax.
- Buying new things (this isn't exactly a cost effective choice so I get new things as a reward for doing something like stretching or going to the gym, or hitting watt targets in a cycling session):
- winter running things
- indoor cycling things - it could even be a water bottle - I'm a cheap date
- Switching it up. I LOVE getting new skills, so this year I'm going to trade some cycling for skate skiing (plus I'll need to get new things for that too)
- Enjoying doing nothing instead of being annoyed at myself for "wasting the day." If I want to have a nap at 1pm on Saturday and I have time, then I'm doing it!
- Challenges. I can stick to a challenge. November has the recovery challenge. The recovery challenge: eat or drink a recovery thing after all intense workouts within 30mins
- Wearing my favourite things and dressing to impress. It's shallow and it works. If I put in the effort to dress to impress for a run in the dark by myself, it still feels good. You know how after you've been in a relationship for awhile and you start wearing sweatpants and whatever around them? Imagine I'm dating triathlon and doing the opposite of that to rekindle the magic.
Anyway, I don't have all the answers and I might not even have right answers, but I've really been thinking about what are small things that make a big difference for my winter outlook and beyond and I'll continue to share.