Saturday, January 30, 2010

Combating that lonely time of year

*If you're hoping this post is a "how to" guide on combating SAD, I'm sorry it is not.*

I've always struggled with these next 6 weeks of winter. The novelty of the cold has worn off. There are no holidays from work in sight. Days are short. Races seem far off. It's so easy to miss a workout here and there and rationalize that it's no big deal. And it seems every year I get sick for the first 2 1/2 weeks of February (last year was even longer).

In college and later as a rowing coach the group suffering associated with being connected to a team helped quite a bit. We were still absolutely desperate to hit the water as soon as the ice broke in March, but winter training was at least survivable. The image of being in the weight room doing circuits with my mates and having "Lean on me" playing is something that will never fade. As an older, individual athlete the dank cold training location still exists (my cellar), but the camaraderie is gone. It makes each day really hard. As a member of a team you were always concerned with being the weak link; letting down your "boat."

Now there's nobody to let down but myself. I employ a good deal of self-criticism to feel the "pressure" to do the work, but this self-criticism is a very very slippery slope. It doesn't take much for "the voice" to become an unrelenting task master which forces me to do things my body can't handle, and chastise me for my shortcomings. Clearly I haven't found the magic formula for dealing with this. Once again being associated with a team is helping. We may not workout together, but the "support group" aspect of things is invaluable. Variety is also key: I'm getting my in-line skates out again this year. Ice skating with the kids is great. Get those rest days; one extra per week, but never more than that or the lethargy seeps in. And when I have to choose, hit my number of workouts in a week rather than go too long. When I'm too overtaxed the bad thoughts creep in and my health goes down that much faster.

Winter training is so key to racing success. If I can stay healthy this year I expect to be moving well this year. Hyannis, just the 10k, is in 4 weeks. If I'm snot and cough free until then I should make it to spring.

*Good luck to my buds riding the Harpoon Indoor TT, presented by Fast:Splits today. I'd love to be there riding it, but then again I'd probably hurt myself.*