6 Motivational tips for running in winter
Written By: Jen Scotney
‘I really can't stay…
Baby it's cold outside
I gotta go for a run
Baby it's cold outside…’
Too early for Christmas songs? Maybe. But for now, this will be my morning song as I struggle to leave my cosy bed and head out for a run. Leaping out into the bright summer mornings seemed so easy, but now the cold and dark have crept in, and hearing the autumn rain lashing against the window, it seems so tempting to skip the run and stay under the covers for an extra hour in bed instead. SportsShoes has previously written about how to stay safe while running in winter, and that’s a great place to start, but it can still be difficult to inspire yourself to actually head out into the chill. So, how can we stay motivated and on track with our running over the coming seasons? Here are some of my tried and tested tips.
1. HAVE A GOAL
Having a goal doesn’t make the mornings lighter or the wind less cold, but it does give me a clear reason to get out. Maybe an extreme tip, but one thing that's helped me in the past is getting stuck into training for another Montane Spine Challenger Race. Having a January race makes it so much easier to get the motivation for training in whatever the weather Autumn and Winter throw at you. I also know that post race I can take the rest of January off to recover, so a shorter block of winter training seems manageable. If you don’t have a winter race, or spring marathon to aim for, setting a goal to work towards, with a measurable outcome can give that extra reason and motivation for getting out into the cold over these coming months.
2. GET A COACH
I’m not just saying that because I am a coach! There are so many benefits of having a coach, it’s not only for those seeking race wins or GB vests. A coach will help you set goals, but they will also give you the ‘why’ for each session. Knowing how the run is going to progress your fitness towards your goal is a big motivator to get out. A coach will also give you objective feedback of progress, and for some just having the accountability of someone watching and reviewing each run is enough to get them out on the days they don’t feel like it. And with prices comparable to a gym membership, coaches are accessible for a lot of runners.
3. GET THE KIT
I paraphrase, but something like there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing choices. Having the right kit for the right weather means there’s no reason not to train through the autumn and winter. For me the essential kit is a decent waterproof jacket that will stand up to wind, rain and snow, like the Montane GTX Spine Jacket, thicker tights to keep the leg muscles warm, like the Montane VIA Thermal Trail Tights, and gloves to keep the wet and cold out, like the Montane Prism Dryline Mitts. I also need a reliable headtorch to light up the trails, like the PETZL NAO PLUS Headlamp, as well as making sure I can be seen on the dark mornings. Running shoes that can cope with wet trails and mud, like the Scott Supertrac Ultra, are necessary too. When the roads and trails are icy, I have mini spikes that fit over my shoes to ensure that I stay upright. I have trained through snow, and although my pace and therefore overall mileage may drop for the week, it’s been a lot of fun getting out.
4. BE PREPARED
If I know that I need to get out early for a run, I get my kit ready the night before, so it’s one less thing to think about with a half-asleep brain. It’s also less noise to get ready for a grateful partner who can stay sleeping as I heroically step out for my run. If I’m feeling like I need an extra boost, I leave all my kit on the radiator the night before, so I can slip out of bed and into some warm clothes and I’m not sure running luxury comes higher than that! As well as having clothes out, I have headtorch charged and ready to go, it’s almost as if I can get out of the door before my brain has time to wake up fully and suggest I stay in bed. I always find enough time for a pre-run coffee, my favourite is Cafe Robso Lowther Blend
5. ENJOY NATURE
You may think that all this talk of darkness, horizontal rain, and bare trees means there’s not much to see on winter runs. But this is such a great time of year for seeing sunrises and sunsets without it encroaching on time in bed. With clear starlit skies so many winter nights that I have been able to switch off my headtorch and be guided by the light of a full moon. With long shadows, crisp frosts, golden autumnal colours, and the occasional deep snowfall, this time of the year can be just as diverse and interesting as any other season. Can you time a run to sunrise at your favourite trail view and pause both watch and body while you watch it unfold?
6. ENJOY THE REST
And if all these still feels like too much hard work… why not schedule in a month of reduced running without feeling guilty, especially if you have had a year full of races or some long ultras. Your body could appreciate some lower mileage and increased rest. A guilt free month away from dark cold runs could get you back with a fresh outlook and fresher legs ready for Spring training.
All images courtesy of Jen Scotney
Jen Scotney is a Montane ambassador based in the Peak District. She is a UK Athletics Running Coach, Yoga Teacher and a qualified Mountain Leader. She is also a fell runner turned ultra-runner and has podiumed at epic races such as Montane Spine Challenger and the 190-mile Northern Traverse.
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Related post: Top Tips for Winter Mountaineering with Hero Douglas | The Hiking Hub | SportsShoes.com