Dark Mornings, Quiet Evenings: January in Review

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I wasn’t going to write a month in review post because I honestly did not do anything in January. It was basically a 31-day string of run/work/eat/sleep/repeat. And yet, somewhere in between a haze of pitch black early mornings and cold, quiet evenings, life went on – slipping and sliding on the ice a little bit, just like the rest of us.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that I really didn’t do much besides train for a marathon, go to work, and try to cram in as many zzz’s as my sleep-loving body could get its hands on. As unremarkable as that may sound, January 2016 held its own. There were no big changes, no sweeping resolutions, nothing new when the clock struck 2016 – and still January ended up being a fresh start of sorts.

In late December when I started training for a marathon, I quietly resolved to sweep away as many distractions from my life as I could – in part so I could focus more fully on my training, and in part a lingering hangover from overcommitting to goals and projects and trying to spread myself to thin among my different passions and interests. I hit the ground running, so to speak, and haven’t looked back. As I started pounding the pavement with regularity again, routine began to snake its way into my life in a way I haven’t enjoyed in a while.

I ran 173 miles in January, most of it cloaked in the pitch black of pre-dawn. Suddenly this chronic snooze button hitter was hurling herself out of bed with the alarm clock 2 hours before the first slivers of dawn, listening to the soft pitter patter of her sneakers echo through the sleeping streets of a neighborhood she’s used to seeing so busy and awake. Through our mutual friend running, morning and I have developed a cautious but promising relationship, like two introverted companions content to sit and enjoy each other’s company without uttering a word to one another. And with morning running came extra morning time, to enjoy a hot shower with no rush, to sip coffee and take breakfast in bites between uploading workouts onto Strava and cooing at our cats. A morning routine also sets an evening routine: the release of 5 o clock, the knowledge that the day is truly over as I leave work, the prepping of gym bags and work outfits in the moments before (early!..ish) bed time. As the weeks progressed I delighted in the small fitness gains that started to pop up, cautiously, like a skittish new pet learning to trust you.

In looking at my uneventful, homogeneous month of January, I see how I’ve cultivated a more simplified lifestyle than I’ve enjoyed in a long, long time. There were some rough spots – the onset of cabin fever, gratingly slow days at work – but without the anxiety they usually generate. I just put my head down and pushed through it. And now, my hope is that the simplicity I found in January will set the standard for months to come and will be something I’ll spend the rest of the year building on, in different forms with the new events that each month brings.

February is in full swing, and this year, what is usually my worst and most unremarkable month will not go quietly into Spring. In February I’ll travel to Guatemala to build a home with a team of Habitat for Humanity volunteers. I look forward to it, all of it, more each day: coming alive in the bright hot sun, the exhilaration of getting my hands (and pants, and shirt, and hair) dirty, and cleansing my heart and soul in such a deep, profound and indescribable way.

January, you were quiet, and you didn’t give me much to talk about but I thank you for grounding me.

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9 thoughts on “Dark Mornings, Quiet Evenings: January in Review

  1. Sometimes quiet is good! You had a great month of marathon training and your fitness has improved a lot! February sounds like it’s going to be awesome though. You’re gonna have a ton of fun in Guatemala. I can’t wait to hear about it!

  2. January sounds just as important as a month filled with life. A cleansing or reset is needed sometimes. So important after a big race to take time for your body to reset. Life needs that too. Then we are geared up and ready to tackle the next duration. January sounded amazing.

  3. Lovely post, and lovelier sentiment. There’s so much you learn about yourself in those quiet, dark moments before the dawn that just doesn’t become clear at any other time. Wishing you all the best on your journey – both literally and metaphorically 🙂

  4. I had a similar January! Run, work, sleep. Actually every day this past week went like this: Workout, go to work, come home and teach piano lessons (Tues/Thurs), watch Survivor, Read, Go to bed. Every day. And it was bliss! Except the whole working part.

  5. Love this post! Glad that you’re appreciating those dark, early-morning runs. Sounds like your routine has helped you find a sweet spot with running and life.

  6. Solid job! I feel like January is made to just survive and set the tone for the year. I’ve been doing morning walks with my dog and it’s so nice to have the streets to yourself (especially when you are making first tracks on a snowy day) watching the sunrise.

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