Fight the funk: Thriving in an off-season full of SADness

Source: Benjamin Brink/The Oregonian

Source: Benjamin Brink/The Oregonian

After living in California’s year-round sunshine for the last decade, the one thing everyone warned me about when moving to Portland was the winter — aka a half-year of clouds and rain. Like some inescapable boogeyman, they all seemed especially wary of it, issuing the same words of caution every time: It’s coming, and you can run but you can’t hide.

Hrmph. I brushed off what I thought were idle threats, feeling pretty confident in my plan for dealing with the lack of sun. No Vitamin D? No problem. I create my own endorphins during morning workouts, after all. It worked during San Francisco’s foggy days, plus having my fall marathon to prepare for meant I’d be keeping busy with a solid schedule of cardio, cross-training and PT work.

I’ve Got That Wintertime, Wintertime SADness

And when I got home from my travels post-marathon, I really did relish those first few lazy mornings. But then a week of planned rest days turned into two…and by the third week I found myself seriously struggling to get out of bed in the morning. That’s when I started to get concerned.


Of course I’m just self-diagnosing here, but I think it’s something along the lines of Seasonal Affective Disorder, which, when combined with the fact that I’ve got nothing on my race calendar in the foreseeable future, can be a dangerous combo. Plus, factor in post-marathon blues that are hitting just as I’m taking a good chunk of time (4-6 weeks) off from running, and I knew I’d have to take matters into my own hands to keep from sliding down a slippery slope.

Making a Training Plan for the Off-Season

As I was explaining my predicament to Hubby the other day, he suggested that I create a loose plan for the next few weeks since he knows I’m goal-oriented and thrive on having the structure of a training schedule. You see, the off-season isn’t really off at all; quite the contrary, it’s a break from the typical training volume and racing intensity, but cross-training to stay fit and active is still fair game.

So while I’m taking a mental break from the rigors of racing and allowing my body to (hopefully) heal once and for all from a few nagging injuries, it’s an ideal time to rejuvenate, plan for 2015 and work on getting stronger in ways that will compliment next season’s running. Here’s what my rough plan looks like for the next few weeks:

  • Monday – Yoga for flexibility
  • Tuesday – Cycling for cardio
  • Wednesday – Weights for strength
  • Thursday – Pool for non-impact
  • Friday – Freebie to explore different workouts & studios
  • Saturday – Long ride for endurance
  • Sunday – Rest day


What About Other Goals?

Usually I try to eat pretty healthy, but ever since the marathon I’ve all but abandoned that bandwagon. A glass of wine…or three? Sure, why not! Bacon and buttered breadcrumbs on top of that mac & cheese? Yes, please! An extra helping of dessert? Don’t mind if I do! While it’s important to not get too uptight about this stuff, I do feel better when I eat fresh, whole foods, so Hubby and I are making a concerted effort to get back on track with our eating habits.

I’m also participating in a fun Holiday Sweat Challenge from the folks at RuntotheFinish, SweatGuru and Fit Approach. It’s chock full of workouts, healthy recipes and an extra dose of motivation to get us through the holidays without packing on the pounds — not to mention, there are some pretty awesome prizes up for grabs. If you want in on the action, register here!

Other stuff that’s been on my to-do list:

  • Set some short- and long-term work-related goals
  • Spend some quality time with our dogs
  • Finish setting up and organizing our apartment
  • Cook, bake and experiment with new recipes
  • Get more sleep — still in search of that eight hours!
  • Explore the local fitness scene & review classes
  • Get together more often with friends and family
  • Keep consistent date nights with Hubby
  • Start planning for 2015 for myself and the LUNA Chix PDX team

So there you have it. The holidays are here again, and it’s time for making merry, spreading cheer…and, yes, even squeezing in some killer workouts so we can fight the seasonal funk, build on this year’s successes and start 2015 off on the right foot!

How do you feel about off-season, and what are your tips for making the most of it? 

15 thoughts on “Fight the funk: Thriving in an off-season full of SADness

    • Thanks! I haven’t tested the hammie yet after my last 1/2, but the PF is still there off & on in my foot. Hoping a few more weeks off running will do the trick. Just read your post & I think 6 weeks might be my sweet spot, too – heard from other athlete friends that that’s the magic number, so let’s hope so! And we’re probably easing back in with a fun holiday 5k, too. Excited to start planning for 2015!


  1. Great post! The shorter days aren’t my favorite time of the year but it helps to have a plan and set goals . Hopefully it will give me enough time to reset and plan for 2015!


    • Congrats on NYC! I love your line – “This is life, not a countdown to the next race.” Totally agree & wanted to step back from that for a bit, too, since a lot of us get so wrapped up in that throughout the year! It IS fun exercising just for the fun of it 🙂


  2. I just wrote a blog post about “Embracing” the Off Season. Sometimes, less is more. I’m allowing my mind and body to relax and recover from a hard, long marathon training season. I’m also taking this time to explore core fitness and strength routines! This “off season” can be the perfect time to rejuvenate the mind and soul. I’m going to register for the Holiday Sweat Challenge!


    • GREAT reminder for us all; thanks! So hard to take what feels like a step back when you’ve got momentum going, but a smart off-season can lead to a better training cycle next time around. And SO excited you’re joining the Holiday Sweat Challenge 🙂 Always helps to have the support of a group when trying to incorporate some healthy stuff around the holidays!


  3. I just moved to Anchorage AKA one of the darkest cities in the US (Fairbanks is darker) and the winter here is long. Everyone has been warning me about SAD and recommending getting a Happy Light and taking Vitamin D pills to feel better. I’ve been feeling lazy lately and taking naps which I never do, so I can tell I’m already feeling the effects. When you go to work in the dark and leave in the dark it’s really not fun, so I’m hoping I can survive until the long sunny days start up again! Good luck dealing with it, and hopefully your goals help you feel better!


    • That IS tough with all that darkness – I’m sure it throws your body’s rhythms way out of whack up there. I’ve heard great things about light therapy & Vit D, though, so you should definitely check those out. I hope this first winter’s a mild one for you, too! Change is always hard, but it’s a great learning experience to try to adapt (at least that’s what I’m telling myself) 🙂


  4. Pingback: 7 Tips for Surviving the Post-Marathon Blues - Jet Geo

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