Running through the fall and into the winter can be a tough thing for even the most seasoned runner. And whether we like it or not… winter is coming. (Gosh that sounds so cliché now, thanks GOT!) I will be honest.. I have a really hard time staying motivated when the days get shorter, the nights get colder and it rains for days and days on end. You definitely have to get more creative with when you choose to fit your runs in because you don’t have as much day light as you do in the spring or summer, the temperatures might be against your favour, and weather and trail conditions can keep you out of your favourite places.
It is only the middle of October and I can’t even get out there to run in shorts anymore. When the rain is pouring down I start immediately thinking of other things to do instead of running. But then… the reality hits you hard and you realize that this is just how it is going to be for the next 5 months or so… so you either suck it up and stop complaining, or spend your winter miserable and locked up inside or at the gym.
Well, if you’re like me… you don’t particularly looooove the gym, so it becomes all about simply switching that mind set to “Ugh it is so cold and rainy out there” to “sweet, another day I can run”. As runners, our sport means we are going to be uncomfortable often. Whether it’s external factors like the weather, or internal, like crazy sore legs from intense effort… we get used to the fat that not all runs are going to be ideal. So I challenge you all to forget about how crappy it might be outside and instead focus on being lucky enough to lace up and get outside!
Here are my top 5 tips for beating the winter running blues:
- Get a training buddy
A training partner can be an absolute life saver for those dreaded long runs. Use the time to catch up on each other’s lives and make dreamy plans into the future (fantasize about summer adventures of course!). I am sure you have one or more friends that you can call up at any given time to hit the road or trails with, and you friendship probably grows along with your endurance. Plus, keeping a buddy helps keep those long runs slow, as they are intended to be. If you can talk, there’s a good chance you’re in your ideal heart rate zone and are helping build endurance slowly and safely. Pick an event together in the winter months that you can train for and look forward to together!
- Get creative!
Okay, so you wake up one morning and it is an absolute torrential downpour and the thought of going out there is just so less than ideal. Fine, hop on the dread, I mean treadmill. It is all good sometimes, especially when the roads start turning icy. But, when you manage to run outside, “race” yourself on familiar routes. I have a few routes that I always star the same song or place list to and try and see how fast I can get through a particular section. Winter is actually a perfect time to work on those shorter, faster runs. Speeding up your run gives you a good excuse to be out there for a shorter amount of time and work harder too! Challenge yourself to find new bike paths or roads to run on. See if you can find a new group that meets up to run every Sunday morning or does interval training during the week… switching it up can add some needed adventure and can distract you from the mental sluggishness of longer mileage days.
- Set goals and challenges that are just out of reach and reward yourself!
For me, motivators are key, and they usually come in the form of a race. So maybe pick a winter race to keep you motivated this season!! There are tons of races out there and it is often as easy as just googling races in your area to find one near you. Maybe sign up for a fun Christmas themed one, or convince a few friends to sign up one with you. OR better yet, sign up for a race somewhere warm and sunny during the winter so you have a reason to train but also a way to escape for just a little! If you’re not into racing, maybe try tracking your miles on your own for the month and seeing your totals. Set goals for subsequent months. Maybe your goal is to beat your previous records on the same route. Reward yourself with a new piece of running gear or another fun treat if you make it! Incentives are key, especially when the February “blahs” hit.
- Invest in outerwear
Gear is SO key to stay dry(ish) and warm(ish) out there during the winter months. Not only is this a safe approach when running early in the morning or in the evenings, it will also make you more comfortable. If you live somewhere with endless winters, invest in some type of traction for your shoes (like YakTracks). If your layering system isn’t cutting it, get some under layers that will really keep the cold out. I also can’t stress enough to importance of a good waterproof jacket…especially if you are like us and live in the PNW where it rains like 99% of the time in the winter. New items in and of themselves might just provide the excitement you need to get you out the door! Plus… ever heard the saying there is no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing!?
5. Share your success!
I can’t believe how much social media pumps me up! At first, I was shy about sharing my progress as a runner, but the amount of support and cheers I get from posting makes the self-consciousness disappear. I truly love my supportive community online for the inspiration and encouragement. Be proud about sharing your progress- you never know who you’re inspiring. Our interactive community group is a perfect way to share your ups and downs, your struggles and your triumphs. You can even try posting your area in our group and see if you can find some new running buddies!
6. Try another sport!
There are so many sports out there that are awesome in the winter that are not running!! Look into sports that your area offers such as skiing (downhill and cross country), snowshoeing, indoor rock climbing, ice skating and more! See what is out there and maybe try something new!! You might find something you really love which might make you love winter more, you never know until you try! Like @thehilaryann.. trying freaking Iceclimbing!! So many bad-ass winter sports out there!!!
What are some of your cold weather tricks that get you out the door? How do you beat the winter running blues?