Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and Runners

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
That’s me, in the red…

I’ve over-trained and been exhausted in the past, but it feels different this time around.  The problem seems to be less in my legs and more in my head.

Granted I did just PR at The Great Cow Harbor 10K two weeks ago and then ran a hilly 50 mile relay race last weekend, but I don’t feel like it’s my schedule that’s breaking me down.  Honestly, I believe the decreasing amount of daylight is the culprit.

I’m sure everyone has heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), but I’ll give you a quick rundown anyway.  SAD is a mood disorder in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year experience depressive symptoms at a certain time of the year, usually during winter.

Let’s be clear here… I’m not talking about “clinical depression”.  Although maybe it does get that bad for some.  I still get up in the morning (although my sleeping has been off), eat, go to work, run, blog, etc…  I just feel a noticeable difference in my energy levels and motivation.  The “giddy up” that I normally have is missing.

After spending some time on the Runner’s World forums, it turns out that this is a fairly common occurrence among runners.  Which makes sense.  I mean, We spend a lot of time outside  and are very in tune with our bodies.  If something changes (even slightly), we notice.

I guess this is just another low point in the peaks and valleys of being a runner.  I’m sure my body will adjust and I will enjoy going for runs in the cooler weather, but for right now… this sucks!

So let me ask you… does the lack of daylight and colder temperatures get you down?  Does it affect your workouts and race performances?  If so, what are some of the things you do to get through it?

Should I buy a SAD light therapy box (yes they exist)?  Try taking more Vitamin D?  Maybe some new shoes is just what the doctor ordered?

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3 Responses to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and Runners

  1. Beth says:

    Jon, I think that for someone like me, I am not affected by the weather changes right now because I only work until 12:30 and that is my only time to get my runs in. I can totally see how someone who works full time and is used to getting runs in the morning or in the evening…both times that are shrinking fast….could have a hard time this time of year. But don’t you have an awesome treadmill? I think keeping fit and healthy is the best thing for you to beat this thing! Are there such thing as mood boosting foods? I know ice cream always makes me happy!

    • jsoldo says:

      Yeah, I typically run eary AM or right after work (5pm-ish), so both those times are now trapped in darkness :-( I do have an awesome treadmill and will begin using it again (or running in the dark)… Its just this period of adjustment that sucks. Bye bye summer :-( I think ice cream counter acts the being healthy!!

  2. Phyllis Shuey says:

    Once regarded skeptically by the experts, seasonal affective disorder, SAD for short, is now well established. Epidemiological studies estimate that its prevalence in the adult population ranges from 1.4 percent (Florida) to 9.7 percent (New Hampshire). Researchers have noted a similarity between SAD symptoms and seasonal changes in other mammals, particularly those that sensibly pass the dark winter hibernating in a warm hole. Animals have brain circuits that sense day length and control the timing of seasonal behavior..’-;

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