“We like to imagine that it’s possible for life to be one eternal summer [...] We dream of an equatorial habitat, forever close to the sun, an endless, unvarying high season. But life’s not like that.”
How many of us can relate to that? How many of us lament (and/or complain about) the increasing darkness of the days, the dropping temperatures, the loss of what we perceived to be glorious and wonderful about the summer season?
It’s been said before by many that the changing colors of the leaves of deciduous trees in the fall show us how beautiful letting things go can be. I’m here this week to expand upon that idea, and I’ll turn again to Ms. May:
“Plants and animals don’t fight the winter; they don’t pretend it’s not happening and attempt to carry on living the same lives that they lived in summer. They prepare. They adapt. They perform extraordinary acts of metamorphosis to get them through. [...] Winter is not the death of the life cycle, but its crucible.”
Think about that. No other species on Earth (that we’re aware of) fights the changing of the seasons the way that humans do. And even though we may fight it mentally, we cannot stop it. Instead, we can aim to be like the other living things that we share the planet with: We can prepare.
Perhaps it’s time to invest in some warmer gear so you can get outside comfortably and safely even when the temperatures are colder. Maybe there is a piece of equipment (such as an indoor bike trainer, a TRX Suspension Training System, or a yoga mat) that you can choose to invest in to help make movement seem less intimidating and more accessible over the Winter months. Perhaps there is a group swimming program or a series of meditation classes you can sign up for that will help you connect with others and keep up your motivation to carve time for yourself during this season.
Just like Ms. May writes, can choose to see Winter as the crucible that it is - a period of time that leads to the creation of something new. Because, as we know, Spring - the season of new life - does follow Winter. Knowing this, I ask each of you: What is the something new that you would like to cultivate before the next Spring season?
This period in an annual training cycle - Maintenance Phase - has been referred to as “Dreaming Season” by many folks in the endurance sports industry, including USA Triathlon. I am here to encourage all of you to not only prepare for the impending, inevitable Winter, but to choose to use this time period to dream.
What goals would you like to accomplish in endurance sports? Where are you (be honest!) right now relative to where you want to be? Is there something you could be doing during this upcoming Winter to help set the stage for you to ultimately get to where you want to go?
Perhaps you don’t currently have any specific goals you’d like to work toward. That’s okay! Maybe there is a new adventure waiting for you in this season. Perhaps it’s a chance to try something new that you’ve never done before! Rock climbing, hiking, snow shoeing, cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, fat biking, yoga, dancing...the possibilities are truly endless!
Your dreams and new activities don’t need to be limited to the movement space (though, as we’ve talked about in the past, a regular, consistent movement practice definitely lays down the foundation for good mental and physical health over the course of your lifetime). Maybe you’d like to learn to cook or bake something new. Maybe you’d like to return to reading books for fun (not because you were assigned to). Maybe you’d like to take up painting or another artistic endeavor. Really! There are so many opportunities to be had in this season of retreat and relative calm when the world is a bit more still than it is in other seasons.
Once we stop wishing for what was and accept and embrace what is, it opens the door for a plethora of possibilities, not limited to and including increased feelings of happiness and contentment. Indeed, Winter can become a wonderful season in which the world sparkles and becomes beautiful and full of potential. Doesn’t that sound nice? Doesn’t that sound better than complaining that it’s not summer anymore?
Don’t shy away from the impending Winter. Prepare - mentally and physically - and I promise, you will see just how beautiful this season really can be.
Coach Laura Henry
Laura Henry is a Syracuse, NY-based coach who is a USA Triathlon Level II Long Course and Level II Paratriathlon Certified Coach, USA Cycling Level 2 Certified Coach, VFS Certified Bike Fitter, and has successfully completed NASM's Certified Personal Trainer course. Coach Laura is passionate about helping athletes of all ability levels reach their goals and has coached many athletes to success.