Push

Winter has finally arrived, and with a vengeance. I should have known it was coming; after all, it is January and historically the coldest month in the Midwest. Still, the last few weeks of spring-like temperatures have spoiled me into foolishly believing that I could get away with ditching my hat in favor of a headband all winter long. Upon stepping outside today, I knew instantly that I was in for a very rude awakening.

My run this morning was horrible… easily the worst run I have had in months. It was only three miles, but it felt like fifteen and a frustrating waste of my time. It was the kind of run that makes me wonder if getting out of bed only still to feel cold more than ten hours later was worth the thirty or so minutes of dodging ice patches and cursing the wind as it ripped through my jacket to my core and bit at my face. It was the kind of run that makes me feel like I am pushing a Mack truck the entire way, working so hard and going nowhere. It was the kind of run that threatens to kill my motivation because I know that tomorrow morning is going to be just as cold and dark and windy as it was today. And I most certainly will not want to get out of bed.

I arrived in Minneapolis yesterday evening and evidently, I have brought winter with me. I am here for just a few days on business and to visit friends. While it is nice to return to some of my favorite running trails in the Twin Cities, I am reminded of the unforgiving nature of the Minnesota winter. Even without snow on the ground, the bitter cold temperatures leave no question that it is, in fact, January and not April.

Runs like today’s are the ones that test our determination and cause us to doubt the viability of our goals and how much effort we are willing to put forth to achieve them. They force us to ask ourselves how badly we want something. As I was running this morning, I thought to myself, At least I know it won’t be this cold for my ultramarathon in June. Of course, there are no guarantees in life, but I would say that’s a relatively safe assumption. I may have to run my race in sweltering heat and humidity or in hypothermic conditions, but the chances of having to run in sub-zero temperatures in June are highly unlikely. Even in Minnesota.

That silver lining, along with the promise of a warm shower and a steaming cup of Earl Grey with plenty of half and half and sugar, got me through the last ten minutes of my fight against the elements this morning. I’ve been reminded that the next several weeks are going to be full of days like these, and that it will be up to me to decide how badly I really want this. Will I succumb to my negative self-talk, like when I missed qualifying for Boston by ninety measly seconds in my last marathon? I’m not going to make it… no one is forcing me to do this… so what if I don’t make it this time? Or will I prevail and find the resolve to lace up my shoes each morning, on even the coldest days of winter? I really, really want this, and I can do this… don’t give up now. Push.

Thank you for reading!

3 thoughts on “Push

  1. I endured my first really cold winter run today. It was outstanding!!!

    I know that you can do this and am looking forward to reading more about your ability to endure in the heart of winter!

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  2. Way to go, Sarah! I am really struggling this week. I think being away from home and out of my own environment is definitely adding to the lack of motivation. Thanks so much for your encouragement! We can motivate each other this winter!

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  3. Great thoughts on element-running. Sometimes this works for me, sometimes it doesn't (and it requires a certain amount of temporary arrogance, which is the exact opposite of who you are…): I psych myself up by telling myself that very few other people are out doing what I'm doing, that I'm the one who will be more confident on race day b/c I'll remember that I was out in those 5 degree, 20 mph wind mornings in January and they weren't.

    Needlessly competitive? Probably. But it seems to work.

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