Motivation Monday – Break Through the Winter ‘Blahs’, Also My ‘Monday Mixtape’

Motivation Monday

Happy Monday and Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I hope everyone had a great weekend and it didn’t zoom by TOO fast! As I write this I have no idea what will wear to work as I own very little green outside of a couple of tech shirts, and that won’t work! I’m sure I’ll find something!

True confession time – despite coming through a winter of record cold temperatures, we are entering the hardest motivational part of the year for me. I know it might seem counter-intuitive, but someone at work said ‘you must be thrilled’, and while I said ‘yes it is great that it isn’t so cold, that is only half true. While it is great not dealing with such brutal cold, these bitter months have presented challenges – challenges that mostly disappear at ‘normal winter’ temperatures. Here are a few thoughts on why this transition period challenges me:

– Running at -20F is a ‘test of wills’. For internal contests, I win those. It is how I lost almost 200 lbs at 23 and more than 100 lbs in 2012.
– When people learn I regularly run in sub-zero temperatures, they generally think I am nuts, but the conversation (like the comments here) are motivational – they encourage me to get up on the next sub-zero morning.
– No one really wants to hear you whine about running in 20F weather.
– 40F in the afternoon means <20F when I run, and with winds it generally means 10-15F wind chills.
– That means I still am wearing ~80% of what I do at -20F. And it is still cold.
– By now I have run my ‘winter preset’ course pretty much every weekday for several months with only minor variations.

I noticed it last week, and pushed HARD to get through it. The thing that concerns me is, as anyone knows, you can only push for so long. I worry that winning the ‘battle of wills’ all winter has worn me down. What I really need is something to bridge the gap between ‘totally sucks’ and ‘totally awesome’ … which for me seems to be more than 40F at 4AM.

So here are some thoughts I have had about motivation when you are bogged down with the ‘winter blahs’:

1. Change Up Your Route

This weekend I had to wedge my runs into a very busy schedule, so Saturday was a ‘standard’ run … but on Sunday I needed something different. So I ran a route I hadn’t used since the fall. It makes sense WHY I avoid it – it is dark, with uneven areas, and I have seen too many skunks on it.

Until it starts getting light earlier I can’t use that route – but going out late Sunday morning was perfect. I ran faster and more spirited than I had in a while, and although I only ran 10.75 miles, I felt it later on! It was an entirely positive experience – even though it was 21F and 11F with wind chill.

2. Force Yourself Back into Challenges

When the temperature dropped, I abandoned a real ‘training routine’ and instead just did one ‘run with purpose’ each week … which was almost always ‘long distance’. Gone were tempo, fartleks or other pacing runs. And for the depths of winter that is great – but now the prospects of running the same route the same way feels like drudgery.

So now it is time to bring back the challenges – to work on my pace and consistency, and really re-establish my feel. I ended last year really strong with my final half-marathon in November … I want another good year! So as the morning temperatures later this week will be in the upper 20s, I will bring back the challenges!

3. Get the Pre-Run Routine Under Control

The thing is, once I am dressing for slightly warmer temperatures, I shouldn’t be limiting myself to the same routes anymore. I should be pushing my mileage a bit, and also getting in some bodyweight exercise more frequently.

Truth is I get into full-on dawdle mode in the late winter, and I don’t want that to dominate as we move towards spring … so I need to pur some discipline around how I conduct my mornings!

4. Rewards, Rewards, Rewards!

This is one that seems great but I can’t visualize now. I really don’t spend much money on myself in any way, so I am thinking this could be a great way to step outside the box and figure out some rewards to work towards. For me it is not about money or material things or junk food, but rather something that would give me incentive to get out and challenge myself. Given how much I am packing into a day … time seems to be a great area to work with.

If anyone has thoughts specific to me – or themselves – I would love to hear them!

5. Find Other Things to Worry About

This weekend I was doing a ‘shoe check’, in which I confirmed that my Saucony Kinvara 4s with more than 1300 miles are in better shape than the 600 mile New Balance Minimus. I started that on Friday and used Saturday and Sunday to confirm. Now I will be rotating them until I really need to get something new … I might be better about buying good shoes now, but I am still not in a rush to spend the money!

Also, as I alluded to before, in February an update to Garmin Connect killed 3rd party uploads … which means I haven’t been able to upload my Magellan Echo data in weeks! So I decided to go back to using the Nike+ site, but need to remember my password, then upload all of my old data, and so on. It will be a bit of a project, so I will also investigate other tracking sites that I can use directly from the Wahoo Fitness app. My thought? Motivation through accountability.

Apparently It Is Not Just Me!

There are apparently plenty of others who deal with the ‘winter blahs’, as evidences by these article on Curing The Winter Blahs, Staying Active to Cure the Winter Blahs, 10 Cool Ways to Beat the Winter Blues, and 5 Intentions To Set This Spring

I love the 5 Intentions To Set This Spring post, as it talks about looking forward and setting yourself up to power into Spring! Here is a snip:

4. Embrace your passion.

Whether it’s a hobby you’ve loved for all of your life, or something new that makes your heart thump a little harder, embrace something that ignites a flame within you. Set aside time — even if it’s just once a week — and, during that time, focus all of your energy on whatever your passion may be. In the craziness of life, it’s not uncommon that we neglect a hobby we love due to other obligations. But passion is what makes us feel alive. Passion is what fills us with positive energy, flowing from one person through to the next. Passion fuels more passion, making this life a happy one to live. All we have to do is set an intention to embrace it.

Monday MixTape!

This week we get the release of ‘Recess’ from Skrillex, currently streaming on iTunes ‘First Play’. You should check it out if you haven’t, especially while you can still stream it free! To celebrate the release of new material from one of my son’t favorite artists, here are five songs that step us through some of the coolest electronic music in my iTunes collection!

1. Skrillex – Scary Monsters & Nice Sprites – this is the most famous Skrillex song, and makes me think of seeing Skrillex Live with my younger son who is a huge fan. I can tell he doesn’t like this new album as much, but that is as much about evolving tastes as anything else.

2. Deadmau5 – Sofi Needs a Ladder – While Skrillex is very ‘song-oriented’, Deadmau5 falls somewhere between the pop side of things and the more experimental world of electronic music.

3. Daft Punk – Harder Better Faster – After nearly a decade of low output, Daft Punk broke out again in 2013. But they have always been about a good jam.

4. Kraftwerk – The Robots – hard to place this in 1978, as it was so ahead of its time. The US version is played at a faster tempo, but the original contains everything you need to know. Kraftwerk were incredible visionaries, and all of electronica owes them a considerable debt.

5. Bill Laswell – Iron Cross – Bill Laswell is a bassist, but has been involved as a producer all the way back to Herbie Hancock’s ‘Rockit‘, and for many years was as likely to release albums of dub, ambient, or other electronic stuff (not to mention being part of the epic ‘Dark Side of the Moog’ series). This album remains my favorite.

So do you get the ‘winter blahs’ ? If so, how do you get past them? Also, what is spinning on your iPod today>

23 thoughts on “Motivation Monday – Break Through the Winter ‘Blahs’, Also My ‘Monday Mixtape’

  1. This is a really good post – this training cycle has been a lesson for me on how to get out there and DO! I have probably taken my taer a little too seriously though. I’m on day three of no running and while I might run… I also might not… 🙂

    • It is a hard lesson, and I read about it everywhere – people who hate the treadmill but this winter has forced them to ‘deal with it’, many of whom have seen their fitness level decrease as a result.

      And tapering is definitely THE WORST!

  2. Ha! I think we must have been thinking a lot about the same things recently. It is sunny here today but SO COLD. As I type this I am sitting here thinking about trying to get all those layers on to go and run – Oh well, it will be worth it!

    Tomorrow it is supposed to be in the 50’s! I can’t tell you how happy that makes me 🙂

    • OK – here’s the difference: when you look at the weather you see it will be 50 for a high … when I look I see it will be 12 when I go running tomorrow! I think that differential makes things worse for me! 😦

  3. I definitely go through the winter blues/blahs. And today, getting five inches of white stuff (unheard of here in March) I am about done! But I agree, switching things up, refocusing, etc. can all pay off at this time of the year until real warmth reaches us.

    • It is funny, because Sara’s ( post is about when running isn’t fun. I have never really had that as a problem (aside from thyroid issues, but that is assignable medical cause) … and even now if it was suddenly 50 outside I would be out there skipping and prancing (ok, not really, but still …). So, really – anything that gets us through until the weather gets out of the way!

  4. Love that you and Sara posted on similar topics! I think you have great advice … and I see the hint of “bodyweight training” in there … maybe you WILL do something besides run :). I also like Sara’s point about reminding yourself why you’re doing this. Wow, I’m shocked that your 1300 mile shoes are in such good condition. I don’t necessarily stick to the “rules” but I’ve never put 1300 miles on shoes!

    • Thanks Megan! I have said several times that it is something I WANT to do as well as running, but I end up checking email, reading RSS and blogs, etc while the dogs and cats eat … and I really need to change that up. It is a bad habit that can expand if I let it. I am being good about no laptop in bed, but I also have to limit it interfering with my run.

      I generally run my shoes until I can notice it, rather than to a mileage, and generally with new shoes I will then go back to the last ones and confirm they are ‘dead’. So in reality I should get TWO new pairs of shoes in the relatively near future and start rotating. Maybe a Nike and Saucony … hmmm, really not pleased with the lack of life on the New Balance – <12 weeks.

  5. I’d been curious if you did any cross-training or something similar. As far as rewards/incentives, have you considered signing up for a race? A spring 10k could bring renewed vigor and purpose to your training. Just an idea! My other idea was to set some tough pace goals for some miles, and if you hit that, talk Lisa into giving you a massage? My other idea was a homemade facial and pedicure, probably not too appealing to you…

    • I know I should do more non-running exercise, but none of it is my passion, so really it will never be a priority.

      And thanks for the suggestions, but here is my problem: More races = more money + more time pulled from family. This is already why I pick and choose my races. Who knows, though … as spring hits if I can find a few nearby 5k or 10k runs when it isn’t inconvenient, I just might!

      Hmmm … this is tough, finding something as an incentive.

      Fortunately this morning was ~20F when I went out, and I was totally feeling it! Sometimes I think just writing about these things is theraputic!

  6. I cannot believe you run in that cold weather! When it’s 30s here, I’m in unbearably cold. My fingers and toes almost freeze. I’m also anemic so for my body it’s 15 degrees colder. But still that doesn’t compare to your -20 running. Do you think you could run in 100 degree weather?

    • My hands are my #1 problem in the cold, if I got heated gloves I could probably run to -30! But as I have said, it isn’t that I really LIKE it … it is something I have always done, and something I do.

      I don’t think I would have a problem with the AZ heat … I have run in the sun in 90+ with humidity here – it would just require a different strategy. Whereas in the winter you look for the WARMEST part of the day … in hot weather my 4AM run times would be PERFECT! 🙂

  7. Thank you so much for this post, its just what I needed to hear. This weekend was really tough for me mentally and physically to get through my 19 mile long run yesterday. It was still freezing cold and I dreaded that run ALL WEEKEND LONG. I got it done, but my motivation was pretty low and I needed to dig really deep. I really am looking forward to run in warmer weather where every part of my body doesn’t need to be covered. That, and for my race to be over with so I can take a little bit of rest that I think my body really needs right now.

    • I get what you are saying – awful reading on your blog about the 3rd round of strep (! I mean, WTF?!?), that has to be a real motivation killer. I was sad to hear … but at the same time there is some reassurance in the commiseration that we ALL are struggling with motivation as this brutal winter tries to maintain its grip …

      And I think that is a good thought – ‘when I dinish Boston, I will “_____”‘, let people know, and then stick to it. Reward yourself thoroughly.

  8. I could definitely relate to what you talked about in this post! It’s been so frustrating that just when it seems that the weather is going to get better, the cold and snow comes back again! Will it ever go away?! And I don’t know how summers are for you, but here in Baltimore it gets HUMID…I’m really hoping that we get some actual spring and don’t just jump straight from cold and snow to heat and humidity!

    • Summers here get hot and humid – but not quite like you guys experience. Which is fine, but the concern many of us have is exactly what you mention – that we’ll jump immediately from winter coats and hats to short sleeves and sandals. Or in the case of my running – from 3 layers of ‘extreme coldgear’ to shorts and a tech shirt! Here’s hoping we get spring!

  9. Dead Maus and Daft Punk are a big part of my celebration mix on Pandora, only available via wifi not while i’m on the run, but i’m listening to them as I write this (literally df when i started writing, and dm as i click “post”). The tease of the weather is a big pain in the butt. I’m totally with you that when it is consistently -5 degrees or whatever, you can mentally focus on it. When the random 40 or 50 degree days pop in, it is just a total mind F&@%! Even the thought of black ice is killing me mentally right now, but 3 weeks ago it was much less of an intimidation factor (although not totally absent, substantially less than how it hurts me today).

  10. Pingback: Wandering Thursday – Throwback, MiMM, Thoughts and Tasty Tunes! | Running Around the Bend

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