Winter weary, dark and dreary? Sound familiar? Winter can present surprising challenges for us with the cold, snow, ice, precipitation, and more darkness than we might think or expect. Some days we don’t even seem to see the sun very much. Clouds, rain, snow, and sleet obstruct our view. And sunset happens so fast we sometimes miss it.
What if we looked at winter a little differently though? With wariness instead of weariness. Care and caution instead of worry. Agreed, we can’t do much sometimes about the bone-chilling cold other than bundle up and try to stay indoors as much as possible.
Yes, some of us are affected more than others with seasonal affective disorder, depression, and the like during winter months. But there are ways to deal with these challenges as well. One way is through activity: walking, running, swimming, biking, whatever physical activity that we like. Although we can opt outside almost daily during the spring, summer, and fall, during winter that isn’t always possible. So finding places to enjoy exercise indoors should be a priority for all of us. Also, light therapy is used with many people to counteract the impact of SAD (seasonal affective disorder), as well as depression. We can also stay energized by trying to eat healthy nutritious foods.
One way to be more wary instead of weary is to take adequate precautions in illumination: charged headlamps, bright, reflective clothing and gear are very important. And don’t forget your phone light. Turn that on if necessary. Lots of cracks in sidewalks and pavement cannot be seen if we can’t see the ground.
Be careful of icy patches. I’ve noticed a lot of snow/ice patches, especially in the shade. We sometimes become complacent if the temperature soars above 32 degrees. But if it is hovering in that region, it takes a little longer in the shade for the ice to melt. Some areas are better maintained with ice melting solutions so be careful: it will be inconsistent even within the same neighborhood sometimes.
Check your outer layers for reflectivity. If you don’t have bright reflective clothing/gear, you can always consider applying something like Brilliant Reflective safety strips. These are very easy to apply and there are stick-on and iron-on varieties available. It is versatile and can be trimmed if needed to fit certain items (like a Road ID bracelet, see my earlier post today on how to do that).
Want to learn more about Brilliant Reflective? Visit BrilliantReflective.com. And use my special ambassador code to save some dough.
We love to rush to our homes and destinations a lot of the time when we run. But in winter, this is frequently the wrong approach. Slow and steady is safer. (Unless you’re on the treadmill, no snow and ice there.) Take your time. Pay attention and be mindful of your surroundings.
Wear spikes and/or Yaktrax if needed so you have adequate footing. Sometimes trail shoes work better in snowy weather than conventional running shoes.
Frequently, I focus on moments of joy and happiness that I can detect to distract me from the weariness of winter: sunlight, birds singing, my dog’s joyful running pace, the thrill of being able to see your breath (and your dog’s) if it is cold, the gentle, beautiful texture of snow beneath our feet. If I get frustrated, I might carefully crush a few pieces of ice on a run so I don’t have to deal with them next time I run by the area. (Be careful doing this, it’s not worth slipping and falling to crush one piece of ice.)
If you run with your dog, pay attention to whether your dog is slipping on the surface/icy areas. Warn the dog if you reach icy patches and tell him/her you are walking for a little while. Run-walking is an excellent approach (and frequently necessary, even during races) during many tough stretches of winter to prevent injuries.
Hopefully these tips have been helpful to you. Forget winter weariness and focus on wariness. Spring is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from now. It will be here before we know it. Be careful, mindful, and enjoy your wintry workouts, even if some are indoors. (It’s warmer inside;) Happy healthy trails!