How to Beat the Winter Blues: Run Stronger, Faster, Further with Friends

by Mat Nark

The alarm goes off at 4 a.m.  You are tired from a myriad of mundane things and the stress of work and life is taking its toll.  You’re hungry, but you don’t have time to brew the coffee or wolf down a donut.  It is still dark outside.  But this is the ONLY time you have for your run, a moment of peace, clarity, and reflection.  Some days it seems like magic, and you make it happen, while other days, it is just not possible, and you must pass. It’s 4 a.m. somewhere for us runners and we all know the triumphs and tribulations of life’s journey.

Let’s face it, running during the winter months is seemingly one of the most challenging activities.  It’s cold, dark, dreary, the sky is gray, the icy sidewalks are a catastrophe, and most of the birds have migrated south for the winter.  Escaping the cold is not just for the birds!  In fact, many people opt to go to Florida or stay indoors (I’m sure there is a statistic out there to prove it, but I don’t have time to find it!).  Do you find yourself running less and less during the winter months?  Does the lack of physical activity add to feelings of sadness or depression? Do you ever wish you had a friend or support system in place to help during these challenging times?  Help is on the way!

At Nark Running Strategies (NRS), which I run, there is community.  Yes, you will get stronger, run faster, and run further, but you will be part of an amazing community that looks out for one another and raises each other up.  There is a cornucopia of events designed to bring athletes of all backgrounds and experiences together, from social strength workouts to Workout Wednesday speed training meet-ups to weekend long runs.  What’s that you say, you are not in the 518 circle, you don’t run like Kipchoge, you don’t know the difference between a goblet squat and a back squat? That’s okay! First, there is the online NRS circle is active and supportive! You are never alone, even when the temperatures drop.  Come to a weekend long run and you will find various runners of all abilities, you will have battle buddies to see you through the distance, all while learning more about these incredible people.

You see, running is not a solo sport.  Everyone has a story.  People are fascinating creatures.  Don’t think of it as running around a loop, or freezing for 30 minutes, 45 minutes, one hour, two hours, etc.  Running is a sport that brings people together to build community.  NRS is a diverse group of people, each having unique life experiences and perspectives to share.  They are a welcoming and warm community, even when the temperatures are frigid!  If you have ever had a conversation with someone during a marathon, you know you can get the whole life story (if you have not, that is okay too, it just means the story unfolds over more time, like a day-time soap opera, without the drama, sometimes).  So maybe for the new year you resolve to exercise more.  I’d say why not exercise the social and physical aspects of running and get to know this diverse, talented, and strong community!  And don’t be surprised if some of your running battle buddies become some of your closest friends and run partners!

An African proverb sums it up best: “If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together.”   Come join the 2023 challenge:  get stronger, run faster, and run further with your community.

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