While fall running seems to be almost every runner’s favorite season, maintaining motivation with winter running can be a whole different story. Less daylight hours, frigid temperatures, sub-par running conditions, all occurring amidst our crazy busy schedules.
- We leave for work before the sun rises, and often return in the dark, too.
- We need to take extra precautions to stay safe, and warm when running.
- Throw on top of that holiday commitments, holiday shopping.
A growing list of reasons to NOT run can add up pretty quickly.
All the time and effort building our endurance and fitness can melt away like snow on a warm, spring day. Who wants that?!
But fear not, I’ve got you covered with some tips to maintain your motivation strong amidst winter running.
Strategies to Maintain Your Winter Running Motivation
Know Your Goals, Keep Them Visible
Yep, know your goals and keep them visible. If you have no goals, then setting your goals to motivate you is step one.
Without meaningful goals, it’s easier to be deterred from a meaningful habit, like running. Perhaps your goal is that you want to improve your pace, maintain your weight over the holiday season, avoid getting sick, or run in a local race.
Whatever your goals are, write them down. Put them in a visible spot, one where you might need the most motivation. If you run after work, a post-it in your car with your goal is well-placed. If you run early, then a written reminder near your alarm clock may be the ticket.
Consider Changing Your Schedule, Fewer Run Days
Granted, some of us don’t have extreme winter weather, allowing habits and motivation to stay on course without too much of a challenge. But, not all are so fortunate, and often have difficult winter weather conditions to battle.
What to do? Give yourself some grace and breathing room with a more flexible run schedule. Consider decreasing the days you run each week and cross-train more often. Nothing zaps motivation more than missing planned runs. It makes us feel like we’ve failed. If that happens often enough, a hard earned running habit may go out the window.
A more flexible, less jam packed run schedule allows you to plan around bad weather, and commitments, while keeping your training on track. Plus, cross or strength training are great options to make you a stronger, and less injury prone runner.
Essentially, consider the cold weather season to be one where you build your strength in different ways while you maintain your running motivation. There’s also nothing wrong with maintaining fitness versus building it within our training calendar. (It’s certainly better to maintain versus flat lose a healthy habit!)
Have the Right Clothes, Plus Gear
No one likes to feel uncomfortable on a run. Sure, feeling chilly for the first few minutes as we heat up is understandable. But, being too cold for too long may not only force you to cut your run short, it can be dangerous.
Frankly, just the thought of being cold (or wet) during a run may be enough to kill our running motivation, and keep us inside with a warm cup of cocoa. Knowing we have the right equipment decreases our odds of bailing on a run. I personally think new gear is quite motivating. 😉
I’ve found that with the right gear (and layering for changing conditions), winter runs can often be some of the most enjoyable of the year. Therefore, invest in the right running clothes and gear that will keep you dry, warm and comfortable, your motivation intact during cold weather.
With fewer daylight hours, you also need gear that helps you to see, AND be seen. Since some of the worst weather comes after the winter holidays, compile a wish list of items you’d like to see under the tree (in a gift bag, wherever).
Change the Time of Day for Your Runs
While not everyone can run on their lunch hour or during mid-day, it does provide warmer temperatures, and better lighting. Even if you’re a staunch morning runner (hurray!), but find running in the dark and cold too challenging on a consistent basis, see if you can switch it up.
Running right after work might be an option as well, where you can get some daylight before the sun sets. Bring reflective gear and a headlamp if it’s twilight before the end of your run.
More Strategies to Maintain Your Winter Running Motivation
Build in Some Accountability
Greater accountability = better consistency = better results.
Greater accountability may be a run buddy. Or a local, small 5K or 10K race – or even a virtual race. Sure, local races are a bit more rare right now, but virtual races are plentiful!
It is harder to hit snooze when you know you’d be standing up a running buddy. You’re not only letting yourself down, but them, too.
Plus, small, local races can help keep your focus during the important fitness building months of winter. Yes, you might have a goal race in the spring. But it seems far off, and what’s the harm of missing a session or two?
Consider a local race as a targeted workout, or one where you can test your fitness. Or, frankly, consider it a run workout where you’re not alone, and have some swag, to boot, at the end of it.
Prep the Day Before
Even if you are not running first thing in the morning, prep the day prior. Winter running often requires more gear, clothes, thought and preparation. Nothing zaps motivation for winter running like being pressed on time, and having to make decisions with brain fog.
Preparing ahead of time sets you up for greater odds of success when it’s time to lace up.
Make Peace, and Friends with the Treadmill
The treadmill is not my first choice for a run by any means. But, if conditions are bleak, it’s unsafe to run outside, or you are pressed on time, it’s a viable option! Enough said.
What strategies do you use to keep your running motivation stoked during the cold weather? I’d love to know!