Winter running motivation: 10 tips from a coach

bBitterly cold temperatures, seemingly endless hours of darkness, and winter snow, and running on slippery roads are not for the meek. Just getting out the door can take a lot of inspiration.

Even the most dedicated runners often find themselves flirting with the idea of ​​skipping a run. But getting miles doesn’t have to be a struggle. Sure, you might dread that first mile, but once your body warms up, winter running can be glorious. The key is to hype yourself up enough to make it this far.

How can I motivate myself to run when I’m cold?

As a longtime exerciser and certified personal trainer who’s been through many New England winters, I’ve got some expert tips that can help boost your motivation to get out there even when Netflix and fuzzy sleepers are calling your name.

1. Warm up inside first

Getting your blood flowing before you go out can help ease the transition so you don’t suddenly freeze as soon as you hit the pavement. Of course, it’s always important to warm up, but if you start jogging at a slow pace in the cold, the bitter temperatures can feel much more brutal. So build up some heat and close your list indoors so you can hit the road running fast. Try some jumping jacks, jogging in place, running up and down stairs or burpees. Just don’t sweat so much indoors that you’re already soaked by the time you go outside.

Try this pre-run warm-up with trainer Tracy Copeland:

2. Use hand warmers

Frozen fingers and toes are never enjoyable and in extreme weather, the risk of frostbite should be taken seriously. If your digits can’t keep warm, add disposable or reusable hand warmers and toe warmers to your gloves and running shoes.

3. Prepare a warm drink while you wait

Getting out the door can be easier when you know there’s a workout treat waiting for you when you get home. Consider buying some gourmet hot chocolate, mulled apple cider, your favorite coffee beans, or herbal tea blend and have a special hot drink ready to sip. Not only will warm liquids warm you up and start rehydrating you, but treating yourself to something you wouldn’t normally have can make it more tempting to get in your winter mileage.

4. Do small loops

Going on a long run that takes you miles from home can feel adventurous when you’re not sure what the weather will be like or how your body will handle the conditions. Keeping your loops short and circling back home allows you to shed extra layers, quickly sip hot tea, and reduce long-term mental blocks. Instead of telling yourself you’re going to run for an hour or 6 miles, just plan a 10- to 15-minute loop or a one- to two-mile run, see how it goes, and then try to do it again. time or two.

5. Run with a team

Data shows that working out with others makes us more likely to stick to our fitness routine—and we generally find it more satisfying. Whether you join a running group, form one of your own, or simply recruit a friend or neighbor to be your running buddy, consider partnering up for a winter run so you don’t have to brave the cold and dark alone.

6. Gamify your run

Guided runs or running games using apps like Zombies, Run!, Aaptiv, or Nike Run Club can make your miles more fun. Or, you can invent your own winter running game. For example, if you run in the evening, before heading out the door, estimate how many houses you can see with Christmas lights and then count them on your run to see how close you can get. Or tell yourself you’ll speed up every time you see a dog.

7 Get the right gear

Wearing the right clothes and winter running shoes will help you feel more comfortable.

Light layers are ideal because you can remove them if you get too hot. While a general rule of thumb is to dress 10 degrees warmer than outside because you’ll overheat quickly, if you find that too daunting, have a plan for how you’ll store extra layers when you don’t need them. .

For your hands and feet, slip on wool socks, an ear warmer or beanie, a neck gaiter or face mask, and gloves or mittens. And remember that running shoes with good traction will help prevent slipping on snowy and icy roads, and a GORE-TEX upper can help keep your feet dry when they get wet.

8. Adjust your goals

Runners tend to be goal-driven people, but you may want to adjust your expectations for winter running. When there are slushy (and icy!) conditions and challenging temperatures, it can be a good idea to run for time rather than effort rather than mileage and speed. Always prioritize safety. Allow yourself to cut the run short if you’re getting too cold or feel the run is unsafe—or just plain miserable. any Running is a win, even if it doesn’t dictate your training schedule.

9. Train for a race

Training for a race in the winter may sound unpleasant, but having an event on the calendar can give your training some direction and purpose. It doesn’t matter if it’s a local race series, a virtual race, or a special destination race, as long as it’s meaningful to you, it can give you a reason to push through the temptation to hibernate.

10. Treadmill injury

Admittedly, it’s not really like running outside, but sometimes the best option is to use the treadmill. If the roads are slippery, if it’s snowing or sleeting, or if you can’t face the dark and cold, there’s nothing wrong with taking your workout indoors. In fact, the treadmill can be a great training tool to help you work on your speed. Embrace challenging weather as a smart reason to change things up.

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