Staying Motivated to Run During Winter

Living in the northeast the weather come winter gets cold, dreary and very snowy. For some people, this is their favorite time of year. For others, it’s the worst. If you’re like me, you love the snow and holiday cheer in the beginning of the season but come January 1, I’m done!

It’s also hard to get through the winter if you are trying to stick to a relatively strict training program- especially if it involves running outdoors.  But don’t fret! It’s not impossible. All you have to do is set some goals and guidelines to follow and you’ll cruise through the winter months with no problems!

  • Set a short term AND long term goal- For me, my short term goal is to get faster. How am I going to accomplish this? Well I started a sub-50 10K training plan with a goal race at the beginning of February. This way, I’ll have a plan to follow throughout most of the winter months and I’ll also be working toward something I want for myself. My bigger picture long term goal is to run a full marathon in 2013!! (Ahhh!) To do so, I need to stay focused this winter and maintain my long runs.
  • Buy some new gear- nothing gets me more motivated than scoring some flashy new running gear (like this Saucony top I bought on Black Friday!). Hit up your favorite local running store and buy yourself something nice. Think of it as a pre-reward for all the snowy, cold long runs you’ll need it for!
  • Add in your favorite cross training you can’t do when you’re really training hard during racing season (i.e. Spring, Summer and Fall)- This week I added in a boot camp session instead of cross training on the elliptical and it was great! It’s good to switch it up a bit to exercise all muscles, not just the ones you need for running. So, go take a yoga class or maybe try CrossFit? Whatever it is, now is the time to do it!
  • Register for a winter race- Winter races are really fun (even though they are VERY cold) and everyone is supportive because you’re all just as crazy as the next person!
  • Run with friends- If you like running with a partner or a group, winter is the perfect time to take full advantage of this support. Running with a group or a friend will help to keep you motivated, especially on those mornings when you really, really, really want to stay in bed.
  • Help someone else learn to run- I have to admit, I can become a bit self-centered during racing season, but I think that’s just because I am focusing on goals for myself. Winter is a great time to motivate a non-runner friend to run, especially if you’re not busy with a training plan or race schedule. Try to get a friend out with you at least once a week. Start off slow and make sure you run at whatever pace is most comfortable for them.
  • Don’t be afraid to indulge a little- Winter is holiday season and it’s a time for great company of family and of course, delicious food, so don’t be the weirdo who skips out on the yummy cookies your Grandma makes every year. You run, you’ll burn it off! Also, be sure to spend time with your family as well. If you’re like me, my parents and sister (and my BFF Sydney!) are the ones who take the time to come to my races and support me, so it’s just that much more important to take the time during the holidays to enjoy their company. If that means cutting my long run short, so be it!

What are your favorite tips for staying motivated during the holidays?