Living in Alaska

Solstice Sprint Virtual 5K: The Cure for Winter Running Blues

Hi everyone!  I’ve got some big news on the blog today!  But first, I want to give you all an update on how winter has been going here in Alaska.  Before I moved here, everyone told me how snowy, cold, and dark it would be here as if it was a frozen wasteland that I had no point in going to.  People got REALLY intense about it.  I was definitely worried as the days creeped towards winter.  So let’s take a look at the current winter situation in Anchorage:

Snow:  We have about 2 inches on the ground and the roads are clear.  My mom just called about the snow they’re getting outside Philly tomorrow though, you could ask them how winter is going.

Cold:  Um, not really.  It was 38 today and rained.

Darkness:  HOLY CRAP WHERE IS THE SUN!  Has anyone seen it?!?  Oh wait, it’s that orange thing low on the southern horizon that kind of puts out light 5 hours a day and is constantly covered by clouds?  I am too tired for this ish, I’m going to take a nap now considering it’s dark out anyways.

adaywithoutsunshine

Yeah, that’s basically what is happening with the daylight.  And my sanity.  It seems like everyone is acting a bit crazy right now – my manager is hilariously dancing around my office eating candy with me like she’s sleep deprived, I’m hiding in her office because she has windows (although since it looks like it’s constantly 6:00 pm outside it’s not really helpful) and talking to her keeps me from falling asleep at my desk, and even Andrew is getting more into napping and playing video games instead of going outside to do things.  And I am beyond lazy right now.  I’m constantly tired and my body seems to hurt – like it’s screaming for a nap.  I’m getting at least 8 hours of sleep a night, but I’m still so tired every day that I’ve upped my daily coffee intake to at least 2 cups and I still feel nothing.  I have no motivation and would rather nap (I hate naps!) than run after work.  And although I’m not really sad – I can’t be sad at Christmas! – I do feel like crying sometimes for no reason.  I think we’re all suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.  It’s caused by lack of sunlight and can be helped by using a “happy light”, tanning, or taking vitamin D pills.  Andrew and I really need to get some of those!  We thought we’d be fine, but we’re definitely not.  I’m not myself.  It’s hard to be when the sun rises above the mountains around 10:30 and starts setting at 3:00.  And even when the sun makes an appearance, it’s so low on the southern horizon that it looks like the sun is setting, even when it’s not.  And there have been weeks of clouds keeping it hidden from sight.  To put this into perspective, our streetlights only turn off from 12:00-2:00 now.

IMG_3544-0Noon in Anchorage, AKA the brightest part of the day.  Every day.

I didn’t realize how much of an impact the lack of sunlight would make on my body, but it’s definitely real and so much worse than anything I felt in Philly.  I mean, the sun no longer rises up above us like it does in the lower 48.  It’s pretty bizarre.  And all we can do is wait until December 21st, the winter solstice, to finally experience the darkest day of the year and begin moving towards the brightest day of the year again!  Each day we lose 5ish minutes of sunlight, but on December 22nd we’ll start gaining 5ish minutes!  I remember how excited I was on the summer solstice to see that it was still light out at midnight, and I want to get excited on the winter solstice about the return of that sunlight!

20140622-194912.jpg

Midnight on the summer solstice…kind of looks like noon near the winter solstice.

As I was trying to think of a great way to celebrate the winter solstice, I realized two things:

1.  There are probably other runners out there who are suffering from SAD, lack of winter running motivation, and wishing the sun would come back.

2.  I have only run 13 races in 2014 – I’m one short of my goal of 14!

So I decided to try something I’ve never done before, and host a virtual race on the winter solstice!  It’s called the Solstice Sprint Virtual 5K.  It’s a free event that I’ll be hosting on December 21st and can be run anywhere by anyone!  More details about my event can be found here.  Once you sign up, I’ll be giving shootouts on my blog and twitter to all participants.  And once you submit your finish time, you’ll be entered to win a Black Diamond headlamp so that you can keep running all winter long!  I’m hoping to see a lot of you sign up and join me as we beat the winter blues and celebrate the start of more sunlight!

Solstice Sprint Logo with link

Do you suffer from SAD or any similar symptoms in the winter?  How do you keep yourself motivated to run even when it’s dark out?  And will you be joining me for the Solstice Sprint Virtual 5K?

27 thoughts on “Solstice Sprint Virtual 5K: The Cure for Winter Running Blues

  1. I can imagine that you would have no energy or motivation with the lack of sunlight. When I was there during the summer solstice, it was the opposite. I was never tired, whether it was 7am or 2am! I crashed hard when I got home. But with less sunlight, I bet the effect would be the opposite of what I experienced!

    1. Yes, this summer was crazy for me! I would go until 10:30 pm without eating dinner because it just didn’t feel like it was dinner time yet. And I went hiking and running at midnight and felt great! I really miss that 😦 I love Alaska and it will be so worth it when it’s sunny again, but right now it’s rough!

  2. too bad you can’t hibernate all winter!! ugh, motivating yourself to run when it’s dark out is so hard, and I’m not even dealing with the lack of sunlight that you are! I’ve only been running on the weekends even though I pay good $$ for a gym membership. boo. Hang in there, chika! I may try to run that virtual race with you!!

  3. I just mentioned this in my blog today – I am SOOOO affected by SADD… I just hate the world in winter. We haven’t had sun here in over a week & I’m just ready to pull the covers & not come out until summer.

    1. Ugh I hear you. I never really understood how much of an affect low sunlight can have on me. It’s rough. I hope things start getting better for you and the sun comes out!

  4. SAD is no joke. When I lived in Scotland the sun would set at 3.30 PM in winter and combined with the overcast skies it made it hard to get motivated. Now I live in Utah and love the sunshine, blue skies and daylight. I also think you have to be a badass or slightly crazy person to survive in Alaska.

    1. Haha well I hope I’m a badass – otherwise I’m just crazy! I do love living here and I think Anchorage is just like any big city in the Lower 48, but when I saw the sun doesn’t rise overhead anymore it definitely freaked me out a lot. The sun should not be so low on the horizon all day! Also, I’m jealous you lived in Scotland 🙂

  5. Don’t worry. Soon the sun will be crazy high and you’ll think it’s so much lighter than anywhere. It happens fast. Just try to get outside during any kind of light. The whole sad think happens with less than 10 minutes of any kind of sunlight a day.

    1. It’s annoying because I actually do get to go outside a few times a day when I’m driving to/from the schools where I teach, but when it’s super cloudy I don’t think about taking a short walk outside or anything. The sun was out on Thursday and I went NUTS – I drove over to Andrew’s office and we stood outside in the parking lot staring at it! It really freaks me out when I see how low it is and know that it’s at the high point for the day. Totally not normal. I hope you both are doing well with the sun in Seward – I feel like those mountains would get in the way of you seeing it from your house!

  6. Aw bless your heart I’m so sorry. That sounds absolutely miserable. Just keep looking at the positives and get through it one day at a time. When J and I have days like that we remind each other how lucky we are to be in whatever rut we’re in together. You can do it! Also I love your virtual 5k idea! That’s fantastic!

    1. Haha I hope. Things have gotten better since this post because the sun came out on Wednesday for the first time in weeks and it really gave us a boost. Now it’s cloudy again but at least I know it exists! I’m sure we’ll look back on this and laugh…until we remember we have to do this every year now!

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