FINDING the motivation to run during the cold, dark winter months can be a challenge, but don’t despair. Here’s how you can stay motivated and keep your training on track this autumn and winter.
Set a goal. Whether it’s to complete a race or train to achieve a particular time, make sure you have a goal. Think about why achieving the goal is important to you and keep reminding yourself of this. Once you’ve identified the why, you’ll be more likely to achieve it.
Share your goal
If you make your goal public, telling friends and family, you are more likely to stay motivated and achieve your goal.
Plan a programme
With your goal set, you can now design a fitness programme that is realistic and achievable, taking into consideration your current fitness, lifestyle and time commitments. Be clear about how much time you have available to train. Try to decide which days to run.
Enjoy the process
Once you have a programme, enjoy the process. Remember your reason for running. Remind yourself why you enjoy it and why you started running. Follow the advice to focus on the journey, not the destination. The hours, days, weeks and months of training, make the destination much more memorable.
Train with friends
If you arrange to run with a friend or a running club or group, you are less likely to miss a run. You’ll have a set day and time to train which makes it easier to turn up and get it done. It’s in your diary, you’ve made the commitment and you won’t want to let your friends down. The social side of the sport is one of the main reasons people start running and stick with it. Join a running club or form your own group with friends, family or work colleagues.
Focus on the positives
It may be cold, dark, rainy and miserable but try to focus on the positives. Think about the benefits of running. Most people agree that getting out is the hard part, but once they’re out, they never regret a run. Think about how you’ll feel afterwards when the run is finished.
Ten minutes is better than nothing
On the bad days (and we all have them) when your motivation is low, promise yourself to run for just ten minutes. It’s better than nothing, will probably boost your mood and motivation, and once you’re out, you’ll probably run for longer.
Add variety to your training
If you’re just going out for a run with no set session or goals for the session, you may get bored, particularly in winter when it’s cold and dark. Try doing some fartlek (speed play), or timed or distance intervals. Introducing some faster-paced work or hills into your routine will add variety and keep it interesting.
Work with a running coach
If you want a personalised programme that takes your goals, fitness and lifestyle into consideration, consider working with a running coach. He/she will design a programme that is specific to you and your goals. It’s also a great way to stay accountable and motivated, meaning you’re more likely to achieve your running goals.
Run in the morning
Running in the morning is a great way to start your day. Not only will you feel energised, but you won’t have the pressure of having to run in the evening when it’s always harder to get out.
Get your running kit ready the night before a morning run, so that you can get straight out.
Include rest days in your training
Make sure you include rest days in your training. This helps keep you motivated and helps prevent injuries. You should also plan for recovery weeks every four weeks when you should decrease your mileage.
Whether it’s cycling, rowing, walking or swimming, include other activities in your training. It adds variety and can help your running.
Celebrate your success
Take time to celebrate your fitness milestones. Enjoy the process and appreciate your progress. Recognising your achievements is one of the best ways to keep focused and motivated.
Think about running as self-care. When you’re out running, you can take a break from the demands of daily life. It’s a way to de-stress, think and escape. Value the time and don’t feel guilty.
How do you stay motivated to run, particularly during the winter months? Let me know in the comments.
Looking for help with your training? Read more about my coaching programmes here.