How to stay motivated for winter running
In this second post about winter running, I’m going to share my tips for staying motivated and getting out there all winter long. In my last post, I described the gear that is necessary to running comfortably in winter conditions. Gear is important for winter running. Not only does it keep you warm, but if you feel comfortable and cozy, you are going to be much more likely to head out the door in all kinds of crazy winter weather. But winter running can be tough going at times and these 4 tips can help you keep running.
Sign up for a Race.
To keep you motivated, sign up for a spring or mid-winter race. Even though it may not be a goal race for a PR time, registering for a race in early spring or late winter, can prove to be good accountability to keep you training and staying on track through the holidays and into mid-winter. Even better if you can convince a running buddy to run a spring race with you, this has the double bonus of accountability and motivation. Meeting to train for a race throughout the winter may be just the thing you need to put those shoes on and head out the door even in the rain, snow or cold.
Try to adjust your running attitude during the winter and practice being kind to yourself. In the spring and summer, it’s easy to expect yourself to constantly run faster and farther, in pursuit of your next PR. This is not necessarily realistic nor safe in the winter. Crazy weather can wreak havoc on the best running plans. So, give yourself a break mentally, and try running just for the love of moving your body, enjoying the scenery around you and feeling that runners high amidst the snow, sleet, rain or wind. I can assure you, if you can relax your mind to enjoy the run just for what it is, you will build mental strength and courage and realize running doesn’t have to be all about pace, speed or PRs. This attitude is one that will spill over into your spring and summer running and long term is what will keep you loving the sport, even as your body ages and PR’s become a thing of the past.
Another idea is to document, either via Instagram or your personal photo library, the beauty of your winter runs. While many runners are slugging it out inside the gym staring at tv screens and machines, you are outside in nature. Enjoy these moments of fresh air and outdoor beauty and take photos to remind yourself of the beauty you are experiencing and the thrill of being out there with the winter landscape. Choosing routes that highlight natural beauty is of definite advantage in this case. In the winter, I often choose to run on more rural roads which have fantastic views of the forest. If the sidewalks allow, running in early evening to look at the Christmas lights of neighborhoods can be a fantastic and festive way to enjoy your runs as well. Either way, choose routes that give you something to look at and try to snap a picture to remind you of the beautiful runs you are experiencing this winter.
The last tip I can offer is to be flexible with your run plan and training. The weather is absolutely going to get in your way and disrupt your plans. Inevitably, at some point your long run will be cancelled or cut short due to wind chills, downpours or snowsqualls…. So, roll with the weather. Having a realistic run plan of say 3-4 days per week, will allow you to adjust to changing weather and if need be, reschedule all together for when the weather is safer. There is no point in being hit by a snowplow from running during a blizzard, or getting frostbitten cheeks because the wind-chill was -40C! Take a snow day, and know that as soon as you can, you’ll be back out there doing your best to enjoy this running season.
Winter running can be enjoyable and challenging and when you emerge in the spring, you will be stronger both mentally and physically. You can be proud of yourself for braving the outdoor conditions, but also, your love for this sport will grow as you see it is truly a sport for all people, all ages, all seasons, all abilities.
Now layer up, pull on those gortex shoes and go for a run!