It’s currently 12:36 pm, and I’m debating whether I want to go for my 4th cup of coffee. I’m not totally dysfunctional, but I’m definitely tired, and I have baggies under my eyes. This morning, my alarm went off at 3:45 (so naturally, I stumbled out of bed 45 minutes later at 4:30). I put my contacts in, brushed my teeth, drank some cranberry juice and a cup of coffee and put on my running clothes and was on the drrrreadmill by 5 am. Yes, I was partially motivated by the big tuna sandwich and chocolate chip cookie dough frozen yogurt (it was low fat!) that I ate last night, but I was mostly motivated by, well, myself. It can be tough — extremely tough at times — to stay motivated when it seems to always be dark and cold and your blankets won’t stop asking for hugs, so I decided to write about my top tips for staying motivated during my least favorite time of year. I hope you find some of these tips helpful, and I’d love to hear your advice for keeping your butt in gear during the winter!
- Sign up for a race (or 2 or 3 or 4)
Unless you have a goal you’re really excited about and want to achieve badly, you’re not going to want to wake up and run at 4 in the morning. Start planning your race calendar early on so that when you start your training schedule, you’ll have tangible goals already in place. Building races into your training schedule is also helpful because you can use some races to gauge your fitness level over time.
If you’re not ready to sign up to run in a race, sign up to volunteer for one. Cheering on your friends (or strangers) and watching them give it their all will surely inspire you to get out there with them.
2. Start keeping a training journal
This year, I bought and started using a training journal, and I love it. I’ve kind of sort of kept track of training before — in random notebooks, on my phone, on pieces of paper stuck to my refrigerator — but nothing all in one place that I could easily go back and reference. The journal I use now has places for me to keep track of my mileage but also my short- term and long-term goals and periodic check-ins. I can keep notes and go back to see what’s working/not working with nutrition, types of workouts, weather conditions, etc. I never thought I actually needed a training journal, but I have to say I’m seeing the benefits already, and if you’re not already using one, I think you will too!
3. Watch movies
In those times when I feel my motivation starting to fade, what often times helps me is finding a motivating book to read or an inspiring movie to watch. I recently watched McFarland, and just watching those kids run with such heart made me want to put on my running shoes and get out the door. Sometimes I’ll just search YouTube or Netflix for interesting running videos/mini docs on races. In the process, you’ll undoubtedly find new role models who will inspire you to set higher goals for yourself and work harder than ever to get there.
4. Join a running club or free fitness movement
It’s tough for me to commit to scheduled runs, but regardless, one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in the world of running is joining a local running club. They hold various runs throughout the week at various locations/times, and I’ve tried some out and now stick to my favorite (when I can make it). Joining a running group has allowed me to make new running friends and find new running and volunteer opportunities, and it also motivates me because, well, running with people you like never seems like a chore.
5. Buy new running clothes/gear
Ok, so maybe this isn’t the most affordable option, but neither is signing up for races, am I right? Whenever I buy a new pair of shoes to test out or a new vest or even a new shirt, I can’t wait to get out there and try my new piece of clothing/gear out. When I can afford it, I actually like to buy a new piece of clothing before a race (I know it’s silly), but it just adds even more to the excitement of race day. Don’t knock it before you try it!
I hope some of these tips will help you during the cold months. I’d love to hear some of your tips as well!