Summer is almost over. The sun is kissing the earth a little later every morning and disappearing behind the clouds earlier at night. Already, I am munching and washing and wiping my saliva up in artificial morning lamplight. Soon, I will be rising in black and traveling in black. I will be running in black, heading to the pool in black, and hopefully attempting to be creative in black. I have always found this constant dusk of the cold months to be uncomfortable and unproductive. I like to call this looming feeling the Dread Of Winter. It is something I have forever suffered with, but this year I have to do something about it.
I have always been scared of the dark. There is not an underlying reason that I am aware of, but I have always felt safer with the big light on. When I was a little princess I had a large, red, heart-shaped nightlight from IKEA. It was plastered above my bedside table and once my mom and daddy put me to bed, it would remain on until I was zonked. I also vividly remember glow in the dark stars littering my ceiling and, as I got older, lots of lamps and fairy lights. I find an insane amount of comfort residing in the light, which is why I find Autumn/Winter so difficult.
I describe September to late February as darkness flecked with grim and grey. There are snow and rain, fog, and spittle and I love being in bed with a piping hot cuppa and an array of candles on hand. Lights on, clothes off, warm and happy. Although this sounds like the dream, for my sanity’s sake I cannot just quarantine myself again for six months. I will lose my mind and unravel all the hard work I have put into my hobbies this year. I need to be getting fresh air and staying creative, socialising over wine, cooking up a storm in the kitchen, and genuinely having a nice time. I cannot let my life go to the pot just because it is dark. So, I am grabbing the Dread Of Winter by the horns and setting some solid plans in place.
The first thing I need to lock in is my running routine. Currently, I am chasing pavements twice a week and would love this momentum to carry on during the colder months! If I could peak my performance to three that would be mega, but keeping a regular two is the main goal. Pacing in the dark before/after work is currently giving me the fear, so if I only manage to get out on my days off then that is more than fine. I am not putting any distance or speed pressure on myself this winter – I just want to be able to say I ran twice a week and survived to tell the tale. This cold weather running also means I have a major excuse to invest in some new fitness pieces. Give me all the headbands, mittens, and long-sleeved tops. While I wouldn’t consider myself a fashion journalist, perhaps I may make a Winter Running Edit, following on from my Running Essentials blog post earlier this month.
Alongside running, I really want to keep up the momentum on my swimming. If you follow me on Instagram then you will know I am obsessed with the pool. Like my running, I am in a two-times-per-week groove which definitely sits nicely with me. Again, if I could push myself to three I know I would feel on top of the world. Nothing makes me feel as good as mermaiding does and I don’t want to let the dampness of winter change that. As well as paddling at Virgin Active UK, I am going to pluck up the courage and try out some supervised canal swimming with USwim and the Helly Hanson Watersports Centre. Outdoor swimming is not something I do a lot of or have much experience in. I like swimming in the ocean on holiday but only when it is warm – so swimming in the canal is going to be a BIG shock to the system. However, imagine lugging yourself out of bed, dipping into the canal, and instantly feeling zingy? It sounds like heaven and I want a slice. Here’s to potentially swimming in new waters!
So, I have a solid idea of how to keep the Dread Of Winter at bay when it comes to my exercise goals – but what about investing in my financial life? Easy: save baby, save! I am very aware of how much of a privilege it is to be able to save money from my wages and I am very lucky that this is the case. Currently, I am putting between £100-£150 in my savings account per month. This winter, however, I am hoping to up this amount to £150-£200. By making some adjustments now (E.G. making pizza with ingredients at home vs buying a takeaway pizza) I can rest easy knowing I will have enough money to see me through the Christmas period as well as the somewhat-harder months of January/February. I am hoping that by saving more now, I will not feel the purse pinch as much later.
To aid, I am going to be tracking these minuscule adjustments/savings via a financial spreadsheet. I created this spreadsheet to keep my eye on regular outgoings and to know where my disposable cash is being spent. So far it is working! While updating this spreadsheet is hard work, I can clearly see where my money is being unnecessarily and also vitally spent. You do not even want to know how much money I have spent on skincare this year… I find personal finance and frugality a seriously interesting topic and would love to touch on it more. Perhaps I will start a monthly ‘money diaries’ series? Anything to keep me accountable. Watch this space.
So, the dwindling darkness is starting to settle in. While it will inevitably stay around for some time, I am hoping that these running, swimming, and money goals I have just outlined will manage to keep the Dread Of Winter at bay this year. I am really excited to keep my eyes on the prize and see some real progression with my finances and general fitness. If I can do it, you bloody well can too! Set yourself some small but achievable goals this winter and be proud of what you have achieved come spring. Cheers 2020 – let’s have you!