A blog by runners. For runners.

The mental challenges of transitioning from winter to spring running

mental transition from winter to spring runningmental transition from winter to spring runningmental transition from winter to spring running

Lately, when I think about running, I think about the plastic bag, whimsically dancing in the wind in American Beauty. I think about Ricky Fitts, describing the electricity of the moment to bright-eyed Jane Burnham. I think about Ricky’s soul sucking line, “Sometimes there’s so much beauty in the world I feel like I can’t take it, like my heart’s going to cave in.”

Then I check the weather and feel like I want to die. 1 degree and 25 mile per hour wind.

If you live in the northeast, uttering the phrase “unseasonably cold weather” doesn’t provide you with the same cathartic release as shouting soul crushing cold or mother flipping wind chill! No, for this winter, euphemisms won’t do.

It’s been cold. Really cold. And now that it’s spring, I’m not trying to pat myself on the back by saying, I stuck it out! I’m not trying to impress you by declaring, I didn’t miss a single workout because of the weather! I’m not seeking your approval by boasting about my twice a week hill repeats in the negative wind chill.

I am admitting that I am suffering from a real problem now—motivation.

Like the plastic bag, aimlessly dancing in the wind, I am affected by the weather — now more than ever.

After gritting it out all winter, confusing drivers with a permanent — ear to ear grimace, I am empty, out of gas.

Today’s weather is 33 degrees and partly sunny. Maybe an 8-10 mph wind blowing by, too. But sitting at my desk, watching the bare branches shake in the wind, I cannot think of anything I would like to do less than running right now.

But I am not a fair-weather runner. I will lace up my shoes. I will wait for my Garmin to read the satellites. But I will not have a plan. I will let my legs decide what they will do. This is the power of no expectations.

Over the last two weeks, the weather has been relatively mild: high 30s, low 40s — there was even a day flirting with 50! But over these last two weeks, I have made no conscious plan pre-run. I have allowed my legs to decide.

Try it out: Lace up your shoes, cue your watch (if that’s your thing), and run a mile. Look at your pace, evaluate your legs, breaths, mind. What does the feedback tell you? Feeling fast? Go faster! Feeling slow, go slower!

You may not think that this strategy will lead to a season of personal records, but maybe it will.

After the most unstructured, free-form running season of my adult life, I am in my best shape ever. Pats self on back.

Remember, running is more mental than environmental.

Written by Stephen Marcin.