The Grumpy Runner: When Autumn Hits

grumpy runner

I am the grumpy runner. This came to the fore on Sunday. It was one of those runs where each step is like wading through treacle.

I got out the front door late. I’d procrastinated – cleaning, a few tweets, another coffee. The weather was mild albeit a little grim. My plan was to do about 6 miles with some hills thrown in for good measure.

Mile 1 – sucked. This is fine. It takes a little while for my breathing to sort itself out and my legs to work out what the hell is going on.

Mile 2 – this also pretty much sucked. I started up a hill. My brain was saying ‘walk’, I kept running.

Mile 3 – my brain won out so there was a little walking. At least I was amongst some greenery. Runs that suck don’t seem nearly as bad when there are lots of trees around.

Mile 4 – this was getting beyond a joke. There was nothing in my legs so I headed home.

In total – a very uninspired 4.8 miles.

To say I was a little grumpy….a bit of an understatement. I wanted to throw a frigging temper tantrum!

Once I got home, I did what I usually do after a bad run and tried to talk myself around.

This did not work and the grumps continued.


And why the grumpy runner?

Grumpy runner
Grumpy runner on some trails

I’ve had a lot of runs that don’t start off well. I’m used to this so typically persevere. I know from experience that my breathing, and my feet, take a little while to hit their rhythm.

No rhythm was to be found on Sunday.

It was my second run since Cabbage Patch 10 the weekend before, having run with some beginners the day before. But during the week, I’d been feeling a little rubbish, or perhaps it’s better to be honest and just say I was grumpy.

Over the last couple of days, I’ve pinpointed the reason – AUTUMN. Yep, I’ve got a case of the autumn grumps!

And one result is I become a little isolationist as I feel there’s no need to share this delightful mood of mine.

It’s not so much the cold. London winters are pretty mild – snow is rare and frosts don’t tend to stick around for long. Also, I don’t miss the Australian heat and the intensity of the sun. Back home I’ve had heatstroke at 6.30am on a bike ride and been sunburnt with 30+ on by 8am. At school and uni during summer we’d run from shady spot to shady spot and find air conditioned interiors wherever we could.


These shorter days…

What I know is I don’t deal with so well is the shorter days, or at least the anticipation of shorter days. During my first winter in the UK, I was sleeping a minimum 10 hours a night and was tired all the time. Over the years, I’ve found some solutions that work for me. These include:

  • Vitamin D tablets – the only vitamin I take on a regular basis;
  • A sunrise alarm clock – simulates sunrise and sunset so tricks the brain a little;
  • Watching alcohol intake and eating real food with the realisation that not every day can be a carb-loading day; and,
  • A small lightbox.

Also, there’s running. An unexpected benefit of running is it’s changed my relationship to British weather for the better, and it helps regulate my sleep, and moods (generally).

I find it a little strange that the anticipation of shorter days is worse than dealing with them when they hit. And the best way to deal?


My club knows how to put on a Cakefest! Spring 2017.

More running of course and a seasonal fix. And what will shift the grumps in practice:

  • cake with beginners on Saturday followed by the Trick or Treat Run where I’ll be meeting up with some folk I haven’t met before (please, please don’t let me still be grumpy!);
  • 3 November, running the last 4 miles or so with Kasim who is running 7 marathons in 7 days for Grenfell (read his story here)
  • signing up to races in 2018 (first sorted, Tadworth 10!)
  • kick off my Vitamin D consumption;
  • walks in the park and local woods to take in the splendour of autumn; and,
  • the most important bit, be OK with how I’m feeling rather than fighting it.

So here’s to a less grumpy runner!




Please share if you’ve got any great tips for getting over the autumn grumps?


6 thoughts on “The Grumpy Runner: When Autumn Hits

  1. I am with you on the need for vitamin D…a definite need when the weather gets rubbish.
    It’s fine to be grumpy…it’s when that goes into full blown temper tantrum, sitting down and refusing to move that it’s a problem 😂😂 keep at it lovely lady!!!

    1. Cheers Helen! And Vitamin D is awesome when the days get shorter. And I do my best to keep the temper tantrums to myself! I very rarely get angry/annoyed, but when I do, I think I terrify people 🙂

  2. Oh dear! I get grumpy when summer hits – allergies and too hotness and all that, so I cheer up as a runner when Autumn comes along. I am crappy at the start of runs and just tell myself the first x miles are probably going to be rubbish. If I’m running with others, I get some early miles out of the way first, actually! But I’m sure this week will be more cheering.

    1. Cheers Liz. And yep, I’m allergic to a lot – allergies all spring and summer, followed by having a histamine reaction to running in the cold … I’m quite used to it now! For me it’s just the mood thing and lack of energy in autumn but I can usually sort it after a couple of weeks. Every year it seems to catch me by surprise!

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