First, despite Daylight Savings Time, it is still dark outside for most of my weekly runs and swims. On Wednesdays and Fridays I am up by 4:45 am so I can be at the local rec center pool before 5:30 am when they open. If I don't get there right away, sometimes it is difficult to get a lane to swim in (believe it or not, there are a lot of crazy people swimming at that time of morning). Also, I have to get my swimming yards in before 6:15 am, because I have to be home in time to get my 40+ minutes of biking in before I have to head off to work. Often on these days it is dark before I leave, and the sun is barely peeking over the horizon when I am rushing back into my house toward my bike. On my running days, we leave by 5:45 am, and because of the overcast skies, we don't even get to witness the beautiful sunrise anymore. Maybe I am feeling blah because I miss running, swimming, and riding into the sun's glorious morning colors.
Could it be that the change in temperature is making it more difficult? For some of my friends, I know that they can't stand to be cold, so this time of year is especially painful for them to roll out of their warm beds and into the chilly morning air. Karrie has been such a trooper swimming at an outdoor pool with me--she hates to be cold. She arrives every morning at the pool with her heavy swim parka, Ugg boots, and ski hat, and there I stand with flip flops and a sweatshirt that I grabbed at the last minute in case I got cold. The truth is, while Karrie and many of my friends don't like the cold, I am not one of these people. I actually love the cold and would prefer the coldest days of winter to some of the hotter workout days here in sunny California. So I can't truthfully blame my recent blahs on the lower temperatures.
Another factor that I have noticed lately is that everyone around me seems to be carrying one icky bug or another. Kids, teachers, and parents at school have been dropping like flies, and I have done everything I can to still do my job without getting contaminated. However, some mornings I wake up and I am starting to feel a little tickle in my throat or a bit of a stuffy nose. It is difficult to determine so early in the morning if I am actually starting to get sick, if I might be suffering from allergies, or if I might be psychologically just trying to invent some excuse to roll back over in my cozy bed and go back to sleep. Now if I know someone will be waiting for me at the pool or will be at my door for our run, I ignore how I might be feeling and just get out there and do my workout. That's what makes my training friends so key to my continued success. So am I feeling the blahs, or am I actually just fighting some illness that was gifted to me at school?
My final theory is that, as I have shared in many previous blogs, I just don't like working out by myself. Because of busy schedules, illnesses, injuries, and other similar reasons, there have been many more days of solo workouts than I have had in the previous six months. I have tried to look at these workouts as great mental training for Ironman, but the truth is, I just don't like spending so much time without someone else to talk to. And I know this is going to sound very selfish, but I can't tell you how much I am going to miss Kay as she recovers from her cancer surgery. She has been one of my most consistent workout partners, my biggest cheerleader, and an amazing listener on our weekly runs. I am so thankful that she is doing so well after all that she has been through, but I don't know what we are going to do without her for two whole months. So could it be that the blahs I have been experiencing are really due to the fact that I don't enjoy spending time by myself?
I am not sure I will ever truly understand why it is always more difficult to work out at this time of year, but at least if I know all the possible reasons, maybe I can talk myself into just getting out there and getting it done. I will have to continue to brave the early morning dark, relish the cold, make every effort to avoid getting sick, but also remember that sometimes I will just need to listen to my body and rest when needed. Finally, as much as I will miss Kay, she would want me to get out there and go on with my training. Karrie and Emily will continue to push me and get up at crazy hours in the cold to train with me. My running buddies will make sure that I don't have to run in the dark by myself, and I always have my husband to bike with and my incredible kids to remind me that they are proud of all I have accomplished. I will weather these winter blahs, and I hope you, too, will remember that if you can make it through the next three months, it does get easier to stay on the path to a more flabulous you.