As the season changes, so does my routine. I am such a creature of habit that I fight these changes for as long as I can, but I need them too.
I went to the gym this morning and hopped on the treadmill for my first run in over a week. What happened? After my Halloween half marathon this year I managed to keep at it. I was delighted with my ability to recover quickly and get back into my training cycle. I felt optimistic and healthy.
But that was still autumn. Somewhere toward the end of November things changed. It got horribly cold, and the mornings got dark, and I got really busy and mostly, I got unmotivated. From my normal 20-25 miles a week I abruptly dropped off to 3-6. I kept waiting to acclimatize and to crave going out again, but that hasn’t happened. I’m not proud of this, but it seems that I am no longer a winter runner. I remember being hard-core and bundling up and slithering around on ice and snow, but not in the last few years. Nothing about the frigid temperatures and snow-covered streets is tempting me.
My challenge when these seasonal changes kick in is to recognize what’s happening and not beat myself up. I’m not lazy, but my motivation and energy go in cycles, as they should, and I’m moving into a different phase. If I lived somewhere with milder winters I would probably just keep on doing the same routine year round, and I suspect that it wouldn’t be good for me.
I get bored on the treadmill so it will be a winter of short 30-45 minute runs, which is fine because I can certainly use the time I’m not spending out on long runs to practice. I have an audition in January, and another in February, and my big spring recital set is coming up in March, so I have plenty to work on.
Summer, when my playing work slows down, is perfect for maintenance practice and long runs, but I generally get faster in the winter because my treadmill time is only bearable if I use it for speed and interval workouts – in other words, if I poke the buttons all the time and focus on the pace and the numbers. This is now the time to use short, focused workouts to improve my leg speed and maintain my fitness level, and the time to put serious hours in on the oboe to sharpen my presentation for auditions and high-profile, high-energy performances.
I’m so glad I hit the gym this morning to start my new routine. I am ready for this winter now. Bring it on.