It’s not wrong to say there’s no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing. But it’s also not exactly the most helpful maxim when you’re staring down the barrel of a long winter of running in freezing conditions.
The right clothing can undoubtedly play a huge role in making winter running more bearable but it’s not all you need to stay motivated. If you’re already dreading the cold runs to come, consider these five motivational tips from Adidas Runners captain Olivia Ross-Hurst. It’ll pay off come the spring when you’re setting PBs across all distances thanks to your winter groundwork.
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1. Mix Up Your Run Times
The extra disincentive of the darkness can make evening runs the hardest of all to stick with in winter, so change your routine.
“Try a jog during your lunch break, perhaps with colleagues, or join a local track session for a weekly interval workout,” says Ross-Hurst.
“And make weekend long runs social by finishing at a café for a warming hot chocolate.”
2. Make Some Friends
Having an exercise buddy is a handy motivator all year round, but it’s especially valuable in the winter.
“Find a like-minded friend or join a running club – not only will this keep you accountable and ensure you show up, it’s safer and more fun to run with friends,” says Ross-Hurst.
If you’re a Londoner there are many free casual running clubs (opens in new tab) you can join to see you through the winter. Adidas Runners (opens in new tab), for instance, puts on several free sessions throughout the week.
3. Energise Your Alarm
So we said earlier that evening runs are the hardest to stick to in winter. We lied – morning runs are the hardest, because you have to get out of bed to do them.
“If, like many, you find it harder to get up when the mornings get darker, find your power song and set it as your alarm to wake you up in the morning,” says Ross-Hurst.
“Something that lifts your mood and energy will help you resist the snooze button and get you pumped to hit the road.”
4. Sign Up To A Race
Schedule a race for early 2018 and you have the perfect incentive not only to train through the winter, but also to go slightly easier on the booze during the festive period.
5. Set Mini-Goals
Once you’ve got your main race or goal set in stone, it’s worth adding some more easily achievable targets to hit along the way. Nothing keeps you moving like measurable progress.
“You could focus on achieving a certain distance on your weekly long run, or increasing the number of reps on your track session, or even moving up a pace group by the end of the year,” says Ross-Hurst.
“You could also break it up by throwing in some local races to measure your progress. Parkruns are a great way of doing this – they are fun, relaxed and free.”
6 Simple Ways To Make Every Run More Fun
With tips and advice from personal trainer Tom Morgan of Starks Fitness.
1. Run to the beat
Running to a playlist of your favourite artists and songs can help keep you on track, providing motivation when you need it. Uptempo music also mimics an increased heart rate, causing a surge in adrenaline that can significantly boost performance.
Why it works “Music can help you get into a steady rhythm,” says Morgan. “Too often people start too fast and can’t maintain the pace. Sticking to the tempo will take the focus away from your legs and lungs, and help you maintain your pace throughout.”
2. Beat the bus
Running to a specific destination – to or from work, say – can be a great way to enjoy your cardio: you’ll avoid the rush hour (winning kudos from the boss) while reaping fitness rewards.
Why it works “Not only will you save money on travel costs, but this is a great way to add training into your day without having to set aside a lot of extra time. It also restricts your choices – if you have no other way to get home from the office, you are more likely to put your trainers on even when motivation is low.”
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3. Raise some cash
Get sponsorship to run for a particular charity or cause, and you should gain confidence and a sense of community. At the very least, it’ll guilt you into putting your best effort in. Just think of the needy children/animals/lifeguards who’ll miss out if you let them down.
Why it works “Signing up for a race that requires you to gain sponsorship can be a great way to motivate yourself. You not only have your own expectations to meet, but also those of everyone who has sponsored you.”
4. Get outside
Staring at a blank gym wall while endlessly treading on pieces of cardio equipment can seem like a thankless, daunting task. Taking your treks to the country, seaside or hilltops can keep them interesting.
Why it works “I see very little enjoyment in running on a treadmill. Getting outside to run is not only more interesting, but it’s also a great way to clear your head from work stress, get some much-needed vitamin D, and see places you wouldn’t normally see.”
5. Start tracking
Any form of exercise will be far less effective in the absence of a structured training plan. Setting yourself specific, measurable and attainable goals is the way forward.
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Why it works “As long as it includes some variety, a plan will both help you progress quicker and keep things interesting. Doing one interval session, one 20-minute easy-paced steady run, and one longer run on the weekend lets you work on different aspects of fitness and create an enjoyable routine.”
6. Find a friend
If you’re struggling to get out of the door, find a helping hand. Running with a friend means you’re more likely to get through tough runs, while any competitive element will also help you push yourself harder.
Why it works “A study conducted by MIT in the US found that exercising as part of a wider social network can significantly boost your results and performance. The research discovered that friends source motivation from each other and also exhibit a competitive streak.”
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.
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