Running Away from The Winter Blahs

Sign of Spring? Cat on the rails - you can see them!

We are entering that time of year known up “heah” as The Winter Blahs. It is a combination of being tired of winter, being cooped up inside, not getting enough warmth or sun and knowing that we still have 4-8 weeks before the weather really breaks.

The experts talk about Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) or Vitamin D deficiency  and give fancy labels for things that have been negatively affecting people in snow/cold parts of the world probably since “We” have been around.

I really think that my Great-grandmother Bertha’s definition for this time of year was more accurate than many of the expert’s labels. She called this time of year “The Winter Blahs”.

Winter Blahs

So what do The Winter Blahs has to do with runners?  A lot!

It seems that we need to be out in direct sunlight, otherwise we get waylaid by those ” new” winter maladies or as Grammie Bertha called them “The Winter Blahs”, when we go into hibernation mode to avoid winter weather.

Luckily most runners get outside more than the typical person during the winter (except those dark-time or treadmill runners), so we tend to get more sunshine than many do. So those maladies may affect us outside winter runners a bit less. However, I have to wonder when we are all bundled up if we are actually getting all that much more of the sun’s “healing” rays?

Still from what I see on social media sites and how I am starting to feel myself – we runners are ready for winter to be over!

Signs of the Winter Blahs

Some signs that it is the “The Blah” times are:

  • the number of other runners you see running during this time of year has decreased significantly since November. On an 8 miler just before noon yesterday, I saw only one other runner, other times of the year I would see a couple dozen at this time of day.
  • when you go to the gym the dreadmills have a lot of people you recognize on them or when you visit their house they talk about their treadmill in the basement
  • you snap at non-runners who ask you how your running is going, with that knowing smile on their face – it is after all winter
  • commiserating with running friends in person or on social media sites about how long this winter has been
  • using words like jealous, I wish, etc., when talking to your running friends on social media, when they are talking about their running in temps 40º or higher
  • tired of running all bundled up and the endless laundry that it creates – Wearing 3-4 layers of clothes and sweating in them adds a lot to the wash load
  • trying to run in shorts, even though it is 30º outside with a 20 MPH head-wind in both directions
  • tired of having your spike or screws be your primary running shoe for weeks on end
  • losing the sense of adventure that running in fresh snow brought back in November/December
  • dreading going out to run in 20º or less temps, just knowing that it isn’t going to be fun, even if the bragging rights are there
  • dreaming of those 80º days with 80% humidity with fondness
  • your winter running shoes are wearing out, but you don’t yet dare to get a pair of new running shoes, because you “know” more snow and bad weather are still going to be coming for at least another 4-6 weeks. I don’t care what the damn Groundhog says :-).

The bottom line is you are just damn sick and tired of winter running and want winter to end – NOW!.

Make the Winter Blahs Manageable

What can we do to lessen the winter blahs?

  • Run outside when it is sunny
  • Keep running
  • Get a physical – as much as I hate going to the doctor, this is a great time of year to have a physical exam. I found out that I had a significant Vitamin D deficiency this way and fixing that made a huge difference for me a couple of years ago.
  • Go ahead and change where you run 1-2 times a week. I know that I get pretty bored with the limited course selection around the house that I have, once winter weather is here.
  • Go on a trip someplace warm, Florida, Arizona, California, Tahiti, Hawaii – warmth and sun
  • Get out of the house and run in a race or run with other people
  • Did I say keep running – I think I did

The reality is that

unless you have been diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder or a Vitamin D deficiency, there isn’t too much else you can actually do about The Winter Blahs.  Other than suck it up, take it a day at a time, suffer through the remaining bad weather and wait for better weather and yeah – keep running.

Grammie Bertha wasn’t a scientist, but she was a wise old woman who lived from a different time (born in 1888). I remember when we were kids (back in the Dark Ages) and were moping around the house during the winter, she would always tell us to “get your asses outside – being in the house all the damn time isn’t good for you in even if it is winter”.  She was a rather blunt and feisty lady, but it seems her advice about a lot of things was spot on.

Seems her remedy works – get outside, we just have to put up with the cold and snow to do it.

We also know that spring is on its way, but it isn’t going to get here quick enough for most us. However, TheWife saw a Robin for the first time the other day – 2 weeks earlier than last year’s first sighting (she keeps track of that kind of stuff), so there is hope :-). Today is bright, sunny and 43º outside right now…mmm shorts weather, possibly t-shirt

Now I just have to find where I put my shorts and t-shirts – “Hey Hon, do you remember where I…”

Maybe spring will be early this year – I can hope can’t I.

I know that I am ready for it! 🙂

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8 comments on “Running Away from The Winter Blahs

  1. Unfortunately 75% of my winter runs are completed in darkness from necessity. It’s dark when I get up and it’s dark when I get home. Daylight hours are spent in offices, or even worse, meetings in windowless conference rooms. It’s a wonder I’m not a mole!

    • Deana – I have lived that life and it is hard to get any natural sunshine or even think about running in the daylight. Then people wonder why we have the winter blahs and get a little cranky once in a while 😉

  2. Yep, nice post. Yesterday I returned home from work early enough to get a 4 miler in, the sun was shining nicely, even though it was 52 degrees, the sun’s warmth was great, it picked me up. There was a cool easterly breeze, but it wasn’t enough to dampen my spirits as I trotted down a new path and outside, since most of my runs lately have been on the dreadmill. 🙂 Excellent write-up and tons of things to consider if you’re in the Blahs.

    • 50 degrees, I am soooo jealous ;-). We had mid 40’s, but the wind was around 20 mph, however the sun was shining which was a great thing. Thanks, I just know that this has been a long winter and I will be glad when it is over 🙂

      • I used to live in New Hampshire and couldn’t imagine running there during the winter months. Being in St. Louis now, the winters are a little milder, no ice heaves to worry about. Here, last year, my first year of “running”, I got the opposite problem, too hot to run at times. I much prefer the cold to the heat. We’ll see how this summer goes as I train for the Marine Corp Marathon (my second).

        • I have lived in the Mid atlantic states so have had milder winters and hotter summers, that is why I moved back to Maine :-). You will probably have to train earlier in the morning during the summer to escape the heat, but you will have fun, because you can start a little before us Northerners. I wish you well on preparing fr MCM, I am hoping to do it in 2013 🙂

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