Off-Season Break

Every year when fall rolls around I start thinking that I should keep the momentum going through the winter months. It’s hard to imagine taking time off when it’s 60 degrees outside and I’m running as fast and far as I ever have. However, there are a couple variables that I always seem to overlook. Lack of light and bad running surfaces.

The first dose of reality hits me when we change the clock for daylight savings and it’s suddenly dark when I get home from work. This year I bought some lights that fit on my hands like brass knuckles which helped. I couldn’t run as fast in the dark but it was still possible to get in a run after work at least. By mid-November the mornings before work are also completely dark. At this point, the only time that I run in the daylight is on the weekends. I start adjusting to the dark and think “this isn’t so bad”.

Then the second variable comes into play when it the temperatures start to reach the freezing point. There are always a few stormy days that flip between rain, sleet and snow. One of the results of these storms is thin sheets of ice on the sidewalks and roads. Then eventually, we start to get full-on snow days. Now we have icy surfaces hidden layers of snow. If you’re lucky, the sidewalk hasn’t been shoveled so you won’t come in contact with the ice. Oh ya, remember that you are also running on these surfaces in the dark?

By early December, I usually decide to take a break until January when the sun starts to appear again. I still get in a run or two during the daylight hours on weekends just to keep the legs fresh. Last year I bought a used bike trainer which was great. Although, I have to admit that riding in the same spot for a half-hour or more can get really boring. Even with a television. Apparently, there are some videos online that are designed to inspire you while riding on a trainer. I haven’t tried any yet but it seems like it could actually make the bike trainer kind of fun. I am setting up a monitor in front of the trainer today so I’ll report back.

This is also a great time of the year to swim. December seems like the slowest time of the year at the pool so I always get a lane to myself. There have been a couple of times where I was the only person in the entire pool! It also feels great to sit in the hot tub after the swim and look out at the snow.

There are two big changes in my winter routine this year. I bought some cross-country skis and I am eating a plant-based diet. The diet is awesome. I feel really good, my weight remains stable throughout the holidays and I don’t simply do not get sick. As for the skis, I have only gone out once so far but what a blast! Can’t wait to go out again this weekend.

I’ll probably remain in this mode for another month. In mid-January it will be time to start increasing the mileage gradually. By the time the sun is shining again in the mornings, I will be ready it hit the ground running.