Coach Tip Tuesday: Feel the rhythm of the seasons
A photo taken just after dawn in Pragelato Plan, Italy - a small village in the Italian Alps - on the morning after a new snowfall. All of the mountains, evergreen trees, and wooden fences are covered in white, fluffy snow. The sun is just coming up and sunlight is visible on the tops of the mountains.
It’s been a whole week!! That means that it’s already time for Coach Tip Tuesday!!
Today is January 28, 2020, which means that we are fully in the heart of winter. This is especially true for those of us who live in the Northeastern United States, where the four seasons are very distinct. That being said, all regions of the United States (yes, even Hawai’i!!) experience shifts that are entirely related to the Earth’s position relative to the sun.
SO much of our lives revolve around these seasons - the patterns that result from their coming and going and the rhythms that we settle into as a result. The seasons are a powerful influence on how we structure and organize our lives; the shift in seasons cues us to changes that we can anticipate or even dread.
Our lives as endurance athletes can be similarly organized. We cycle through training blocks and settle into various rhythms that change with those blocks. And while each year is similar and can start to feel predictable in some ways, much like the Earth’s seasonal changes, they aren’t always 100% predictable.
Winter is a season that is shunned more than it’s embraced. Many, many people struggle with less daylight and crummier weather, and they wish away most of the winter season lamenting about how they want it to be summer. When confronted with a season that, at face value, stands in the way of more exciting things, it’s very easy to not see the value that is inherent in ALL seasons.
It’s very tempting in this season of winter to long for the warm days of summer and to daydream about goals that have been set for those sunnier months. It’s also tempting to go NOW in anticipation of those goals or race days. But winter does have a VERY important place in our endurance sports lives. This season is one that enables us to be active in ways that we may not have time for in the main racing season. For places that experience winter with snow, winter hiking, snowshoeing, fat biking, cross-country skiing, downhill skiing or snowboarding, ice skating, and hockey are all wonderful examples of things that are much more challenging - if not impossible - to do in any other season. For places that do not experience snow, the season of winter still provides a wonderful opportunity to be active outdoors without the oppressive heat and/or humidity that comes along in summer.
Winter also provides us all with an opportunity to develop a solid plan to see goals through to fruition. As I’ve written about before, you can’t double up to make up. And doubling up to make up is what I see a TON of people do once the weather breaks and they realize that they didn’t do work that would have served them really well over the winter. (Coincidentally, this period of realization usually results in an increase in coaching inquiries since folks realize that they will probably need some help to reach their goals, but I digress, haha!!)
So while I firmly believe that we shouldn’t force anything and that all people do experience things in their own time, I do believe that we can take cues from the seasons and learn to embrace things in their own time. This includes being able to see the value in the seasons that we might want to shun or complain about.
As we all know, the only absolute in this life is that things will change. The cold, dark days of winter will ebb into the balmy, colorful months of spring, and then the warm days of summer WILL come. Your goal race day WILL come. This week, I encourage you to become in tune with the rhythms of all seasons, even the ones you don’t like. Make this most of NOW and embrace this season of preparation so you can feel strong and ready to smash your goals when the time comes.