Top 20 Ways to Stay Motivated During the Winter Months (written for UK Athletics 10/08).
Even the most talented runners must struggle from time to time to drag themselves out the door for a run or session during the cold, wet and dark winter so runbritain.com editor NICOLA BAMFORD reveals her ‘Top 20 ways to stay motivated during the winter months’...
1. Have a tangible reward on your return - give yourself a treat; an incentive to get out there - whether that be a hot chocolate, warm bubble bath or your favourite takeaway.
2. Set yourself realistic goals – know your fitness level and limits – set a target time for a length of run to aim for that you’re confident of achieving - gradually increase this over time.
3. Stay positive – think of the benefits to training like improving your health, increasing your fitness level and aiding your mental toughness for competitions.
4. Decide which races to do in the spring – pencil in and aim to train specifically for a few races during the New Year to Easter period – entering these will provide an even bigger motivational tool.
5. Self-satisfaction – there’s a great sense of achievement in completing a run or session when the elements are against you – give yourself a big pat on the back!
6. Cover up against the elements– wearing water-proofs, layers and a hat and gloves when required, will help you to brave the cold and wet environment. Don’t forget your reflective gear if you intend to train in the dark!
7. Train with a friend – knowing that you’ve organised to meet and run with a training partner should be enough to get you out the door and chatting along should make the weather more bearable.
8. Burn off those calories – most people tend to eat more in the winter months to keep themselves warm – what a great excuse! But of course, not wanting to gain those extra pounds should keep you motivated to train. Each mile ran can burn up to 100 calories – think of it as 2 slices of pizza!
9. Visualisation – choose a well-known route and mentally dissect it into segments to help yourself get through the tough workout.
10. Have appreciation for your running – remind yourself every day that at least you can run – we should be very grateful indeed!
11. Create a training diary – logging your training may encourage you to keep training; nobody likes to see too many blanks in it now do they!
12. Invest in some new kit – having some brand new apparel and shoes will hopefully excite you into using them – regularly!
13. Run at lunchtime – give yourself a break from work and try not to run first or last thing in the day when it’s darker and colder.
14. Watch/read some motivational tools – such as running DVDs, books and quotes.
15. Make a massage appointment – perhaps not seen as a treat but it’ll do you the World of good! – The less tight and tired your muscles are, the more likely you are to want to train.
16. Train to race for charity – by selecting a charity to compete for, your motivation should double – you’re not just running for yourself anymore!
17. Be careful – slippy roads, lashing rain, piles of leaves and the dark can cause a plethora of hazards – take care!
18. Train to music – probably one of the best motivational tools for keeping you going during the miles – but take care when ‘zoning out’ to your favourite bands during the winter months.
19. Stay healthy – eating, drinking and sleeping adequately will aid your motivation to train, as you’ll feel fitter and fresher.
20. If all else fails to get you running outside, train inside – join a gym and do your runs and even sessions (with care) on a treadmill – but beware of the injuries this method of training can potentially cause.