For too many years I followed the same pattern of consistent running in the summer and fall only to abandon my outdoor runs as the days shortened and the air turned crisp. I was a fair weather runner. The following spring I’d regress back to my race times from the start of the previous summer and kick myself for what I perceived as a clear lack of discipline. Meanwhile, my training partners that trained through the winter were faster than ever.
Winter is fast approaching and if you live in a place where the weather fluctuates seasonally, you may already be feeling the lure of binge watching Netflix wrapped in a soft blanket, on a comfy couch, sipping a warm cup of tea. Motivating to go outside in the frigid conditions for a run feels harder than it was a month ago, and the treadmill is a bore.
Here are a few tricks to overcome the lure of the warm sofa to keep running through winter.
Set a vision. A vision is an idea for the future that guides and provides direction. If you aren’t sure of your vision, consider your answers to the following questions:
What excites you most about running? What are the benefits of running consistently? What are the consequences of not running consistently? Ultimately, what do you aim to achieve with your running?
For example, for me, running gives me time to myself and time to think. I also love the feeling of progressing towards a goal, whether that means building volume for a marathon or trying to get faster in the 5k. When I don’t run, I have less energy – my mood (and everyone around me) suffers. My big goal: to qualify for the Boston Marathon within 5 years.
Tap into your emotions. Often underestimated, emotions are a great source of energy. Your emotions, not logic, are what determine if you lace up or wrap up (in that soft blanket on the couch). Remind yourself of your vision, and connect with the emotions wrapped up in it. Consider signing up for a spring race or setting a specific goal, one that elicits emotion, like fear or excitement. If you’re someone who doesn’t enjoy letting others down, consider registering for a relay race or group competition.
Refresh your running wardrobe. The holidays are a great time to drop hints to loved ones about new apparel for your cold weather running wardrobe. If it’s been a while since you’ve been shopping, they make some really smart fabrics these days that can handle a warm sweaty body moving through sub-freezing temperatures. Temperature appropriate gloves, hat, tights, and vest are a must so if you don’t find any in your stocking, stop by your local running store to test out cold weather gear.
There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.
– A. Wainwright
Make safety a priority. Since the winter days are shorter, when running outdoors it’s likely you will find yourself in the dark, at least occasionally. It’s important that you see and be seen. To stay safe, choose low car traffic/ high visibility running routes, invest in highly reflective fabrics, and strap on a headlamp.
Recruit a friend. Not only does a reliable running partner help foster accountability, but running in challenging conditions is always more fun when you have someone there to commiserate with and appreciate how totally, extremely, awesomely nuts you both are!
Give the treadmill another chance. Not all treadmills are created equal. I wrote them off long ago because running on them just didn’t feel good to me, but I recently had the opportunity to run on a Woodway treadmill, and it was a game changer! Experiment if you can.
Bonus: If you live in a major city, you can find indoor running studios cropping up, most of which boast high-end treadmills, grade A effects (sound & light), and energetic instructors calling the shots. And hour on the treadmill flies by.
Change it up. If conditions are icy or unsafe or if you simply cannot muster the energy to get outside for a run, don’t hesitate to replace a couple of runs per week with indoor workouts, like spinning, rowing or strength training.
Netflix and your couch aren’t going anywhere. You won’t regret running during the cold winter when you’re faster than ever, setting personal records in 2016.