Ah, the January blues. I can remember a time when life was a little more simple and it was just a case of not wanting to go back to school after the Christmas break. Then you grow up and things change and you look back in hindsight and realise that those really were simpler times and you’d give your season Railcard to finish at 3.30 every day and kick a pop bottle home.
I don’t feel I suffer from the January blues much, but if I have a bad day, the dark, damp, cold weather amplifies it. At least in spring and summer you can console yourself with a warm walk in the evening. Despite not feeling the need to, I accepted the challenge this year of taking part in RED January. RED stands for Run Every Day, and is designed to keep you active and boost mental health. At the time of writing, I’ve managed every day thus far. It’s not exclusive to running either, it’s merely keeping active every day. So if you’re not doing Dry January, Veganuary, or on some vile diet where you can only eat sprouts on any day with a T in it, I recommend it. Obviously, you’ve missed it as it’s now nearly February, but you could still do it in principle. RED February anyone?
Sunday was one of my weighted backpack cross country slog sessions. A new route – more trails, heavier weight. It was pretty chilly and dull, the sun just diving behind the clouds as soon as I stepped out of the door. Typical. I couldn’t help but feel very positive and hopeful however because it felt very spring-like. As simple as it is, one of my favourite countryside sounds is the chirp of the Great Tit. A very common bird here luckily, so in woodland up and down the country, you can hear one tweeting away. I also saw my first snowdrops of the year, always bringing a smile, as well as crocus and daffodil shoots coming through. Thoughts will soon turn to the allotment and the rise in optimism begins.
I woke up on Monday morning feeling quite mobile compared to the previous week. My weighted session that week was a long jaunt over the hills, leading to much pain over the next four days and recovery runs that made me resemble Quasimodo. I had a hunch they’d be difficult. Determined to complete RED January, I set out running even when common sense told me not to. That’s a thing with me, not sure if it’s all runners, just a few or just me, but I will go out running no matter what the conditions if it’s a day I plan to run on. The opportunity to gain tales to tell later far outweigh the risk of slipping on my backside. There was an hilarious moment a few winters back when it had snowed and I had to go running. It was during the school run, and at the time I lived somewhere semi-rural. The footpath was narrow and coming towards me was a mum with three kids in tow. Being a gentleman, I stepped to the left on to the grass to let them past as the road was slushy. Except, it wasn’t a grass verge. It was a great bloody deep ditch full of snow, and I just disappeared into it. I laughed, she laughed, the kids laughed, I couldn’t get out, I cut my legs on thorns, then I cried, which made the kids cry and the mum uncomfortable. I’m joking about the crying bit by the way. Obviously there are worse things to happen to you in adverse conditions, but it’s the closest you can get to high octane fun in your own neighborhood.
I see on Instagram all the time people heading into the mountains in the snow, so it’s all about comfort zones again I guess. Either way, for me, it’s better than staying in and cursing the weather.