It's winter. It's cold. It gets dark early. It stays dark late.
But you have a training schedule and a spring race. Or maybe you just have goals for the year.
Which ever it is, if you are like most people the tail end of winter is a huge mental challenge. There are more obstacles to your training than a spartan beast. And at the end of the day you will fall into one of two camps 1) Got it done. 2) Didn't get it done.
I'm not going to lie or gloss it over. It is mentally difficult to get out the door. Some days it's nearly impossible. I'm sure others go through the same thing. Obsessing over the weather, laying out gear, obessing over the sale ads to make sure you have the right hear options. Any little distraction explodes into an excuse to just not go.
But once you layer up, lace on the screw shoes, and actually step outside, well, it sucks. Your nose starts to freeze shut. Your glasses are so cold they pop. Everything is cold. This continues for the first half mile or so. Then it starts to come together. The chill isn't quite as bad. In fact, if you close your eyes (DON'T! Your eyelashes might freeze shut!) and ignore the cold, it might almost be like running in the fall.
And it's all attitude. You pick a goal. You make a plan. You make it a priority, and it happens. Just like most things in life, there will be obstacles. You may find yourself doing accidental snow angels in the middle of the road. But you did it. You left the house with the intention to go for a run. And that's enough. Just getting out with the intention of going for a run. That is usually the most difficult part. Everything after that is... just running.
The same applies to treadmill runners. Running outside in the winter certainly isn't for everyone or every climate. I spent enough winters in Minnesota to know there's a time to just stay inside and play cribbage. And that's where the treadmill comes in. Maybe it's in your house. And it mocks you every time you walk past because you paid good money for that thing, and there it is covered in laundry. Or maybe you've paid good money for a gym membership just to have access to a treadmill. And you drive past and know you should go... And when you do, it's fine. You show up. You run. Maybe you see people you know. And you go back to your life. Just like when you run outside.
So what helps get me running when it's the tail end of winter and quite frankly I just don't really want to? Well, it's the same thing that gets me running when it's the middle of summer and it's way too hot to be out there doing my thing but I do anyway.
Either you want it or you don't. It's easy for me to write about drive and goals and all the usual stuff you read. But I'll let you in on a secret. Some days, I just don't have it. Oh sure, most days I can muster enough to go out and do something. But some days... Nope. It just doesn't come together. And that's OK too. I know I run more days than I don't. I know I get most my workouts. I know I get most my miles. If I just can't get in a run I might be upset by it, or depressed, or angry, but in the end I know I do what I can to set myself up for success every day. So if today didn't work, I'll get up tomorrow and try it again.
My name is Matt Rutledge, and I like to race. It has been about 2.5 days since my last race.
So that's a "kidding, not kidding" kind of thing. I really do love races. I would race every weekend if I thought I could afford it. There's just something about the competitive atmosphere that gets me fired up and makes some of the misery just kind of melt away. Throw in some cowbell... I should stop. My heart rate is climbing just thinking about it.
I was recently asked what my favorite race is. I'm not sure I have a good answer. I like them all. They all have their ups and downs. Some are measured in elevation. Some measured in emotion, or crowd support or any of the several little things that make up a good race. So I guess that makes my three favorite races the one I just finished, the one I'm running now, and the one coming up.
It sounds cliche. It sounds lame. But it's the truth. When it all comes together and I get to compete, I'm pretty dang happy.
Speaking of, there is a RunJunkEes race Saturday, July 18th, 2015 up in Kenosha, WI. It's a relay type event and promises to be a great show. If you don't have a team, you can be assigned one and make some new friends along the way. http://www.xcthrillogy.com/