Recently, I had a grandfather of a high school runner ask me for some tips on what they could do during the off-season to improve. He told me about the kid’s fast times, goals of running in college, successes and frustrations. I told him congrats. Then I blindsided him when I said, “tell ‘em to work on what he eats.” His response was a head tilt. 

“Tell him he needs to eat a heck of a lot of vegetables.” His eyes kind of widened. I suppose he was expecting a wonder workout. All I could offer was kale. 

Now, I don’t know the kid. I’m only assuming that he eats a lot of crap like lots of people—not only like a high schooler but like a lot of people. So he asked, “Well… What else would you suggest?”

I went on to say that beyond being careful to consume nutrient-dense foods he probably needs to sleep more. This seemed to strike a chord. He started nodding his head and said something about screen time. Then he left the conversation with, “Well, that’s all pretty good advice.” 

Yes, it is. 

Let’s be honest. This kid is not alone. 

Since August, I have been training really hard, but now the summer/fall training cycle is officially over. I’m taking the remainder of November to rest and recover. Recovery may or may not include a family trip to France. It will for sure include some pain au chocolate and some very nice Gewürztraminer. I’m going to do my best to celebrate the hard work, some successes and not think much beyond that. 

Then comes winter. 

Winter is a great time to assess and prioritize some change efforts. Not to simply set lofty goals and charge into the New Year but to be deliberate and careful about how you do you. It feels like the perfect season to take time to consider areas where you’d like to improve and where best to invest the effort to enact change. Because, let’s also be honest, setting lofty goals can feel nice but perhaps investing in a few reasonable ones will produce a greater ROI. 

Like I said, I won’t let myself goal-set for a few more weeks, but I’ll leave you some ideas in case you need inspiration. 

Read more. Like actually read a book that is made of paper. This is not only great for intellectual stimulation and mental health, but it might help you wind down and sleep better. Right, grandpa? 

Cross-train. If you love your treadmill, good for you. Spending all winter on it can be hard on the hamstrings and low back. Maybe set the goal to hop on the bike or in the pool a few times a week? 

Save money. Spend money on experiences rather than things. 

Stretch regularly. Do yoga. Learn T’ai Chi. Practice better breathing. 

Invest in yourself. Get a regular massage or acupuncture. Better both. 

Invest in others. Do good. Volunteer. Make time to give some of your free time. Help someone in need. 

I could go on and on and on. I get all fired up just thinking through these. Even though I’m not allowing myself to think about this just yet, these are all things that I aspire to should I goal-set. A few of them will probably make the top of my list once I start writing it. But first, Gewürztraminer. 



Find more on my wine and chocolate pairings @susiedukeruns

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