Motivation for cold-weather winter running

I recently spewed shared all of my winter running apparel advice. Hopefully it was useful to at least one cold-weather adverse runner and I have converted someone and it was worth it.

But, if you are not yet convinced, here are some more cold-weather running strategies to get your butt out the door and off the dreadmill.

Stay Accountable

The easiest way to keep getting out there, all winter long, is to start running with a group, or make regular running dates with a friend. If you know someone else is counting on you to show up, you are more likely to get out there. Otherwise you are the jerk who stood up your friend who is waiting out in the cold for your lazy butt. For me, the thought of being called out by my running club for wussing out due to cold weather is a motivator to keep getting out there. Just being honest.

So, join a running club, or check out group runs at your local running store, or make a date with a friend. Or sign up for winter training with CARA.

Run During the Day

This might be obvious, but it is easier to deal with cold temps during the day, when the sun is shining. So, to ease yourself into cold weather running, start by running during the day. Once you realize it is NBD (no big deal), try a nighttime run. Just remember that with the absence of the sun, you won’t warm up as much, so take that into consideration when deciding what to wear.

Spend Money

If you spend money on cold weather gear, and don’t use it, you’re just wasting your money. So buy some cold weather gear, and then you have to use it. In cold weather.

Bribe Yourself

If you make a date to run with a group or a friend, make plans to go out afterward for drinks (booze for evening runs, coffee for morning runs, obvi), or brunch/lunch/dinner. If you don’t go, you don’t get the treat. (Bonus: around Christmas, schedule a group run followed by a cookie exchange. No run = no cookies. Stop being so cruel to yourself.)

F'N Runners Cookie Exchange

Publicly Shun the Dreadmill

If you make a regular habit of openly bad-mouthing the dreadmill (like I do), then you have to put your money (er, feet) where you mouth is and you CANNOT ever run on that evil hamster wheel that tries to pass for gym equipment (unless conditions outside are dangerous). So you have to run outside. (Unless your gym has an indoor track!! LOOPHOLE!!! Nevermind, I also hate the indoor track after like two laps.)

Enjoy the Beauty Around You

There are two times when running in the winter is SUPER awesome. One is during the Christmas season, when everyone’s lights are up. Remember when you were little (or … remember last year) and you would go driving around looking at Christmas lights? Why not do that on foot? Honestly, I get sad when January rolls around and my evening runs are not all lit up in Christmas lights.

The other awesome time to run is right after a snowfall, during the day. Bear with me. Obviously, safety first. Wait until the snow is over or has died down, and if necessary, wait for the snow plows to go through. Both so that they clear a path for you and so you don’t get plowed over. But running right after a snowfall is so peaceful. Everyone is inside (hmm wonder why) and the snow makes things muffled and quiet. You’ll likely have to run in the streets, so wear bright colors, go during the day, and stick to side streets.

What other strategies help keep you running outside throughout the winter? 

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12 Comments on “Motivation for cold-weather winter running”

  1. Is there a resource you know of to try and track down a local running club? I looked for one through CARA’s website, and most of the links were busted. I would love to have some where safe to run in the northern suburbs after work :-/

    1. Have you checked the local running stores? That was where I started doing group runs. I would look for what is near your office as well as what is on your way home (or could be on your way home if you can take a different route). For awhile, when I was driving to work, on Monday nights I would stop at my “local” running store for the group run on my way home from work (it was still 40 minutes to get home from there, just because the part of the suburbs I live in is a wasteland of nothingness apparently). Hopefully you can find something convenient. Otherwise, the running store should know where the local clubs are and how to get in contact with them.

  2. Excellent points! I cannot agree more with your point about meeting up with friends and not wanting to bail on them. This winter my goal is to go run outside on the weekends at least- so far Ive been trying to get friends, my dog or my BF to join me (to help motivate me!) Its really freaking hard to get out the door when its below 40. If you come to Chicagoland we should meet up for a run sometime 🙂

  3. Sign up for a spring half or full marathon! That will get you out the door. 🙂 And running where other people are, even if you don’t know them, is still fun. The Lakefront is a great option, and I got a membership to Morton Arboretum last year specifically to run in the winter. For one person it’s a little over a dollar a week and they have Christmas lights up already!

  4. Reading this just made me so excited for winter running! One of my favorite things in the world are snow-covered Christmas lights. I love that appearance that the snow is glowing in all sorts of beautiful colors. “Spend money” <– I totally thought this the other day too! The more $$ I spend on running gear the more I'm motivated to try out the clothes and actually use them. Thankfully, Lululemon makes this part easy :/

  5. Great tips! I find that the hardest part about winter running is just getting started. So I tell myself, I’m just going to get out there and run one mile. Then, I give myself permission to stop and come home. But usually by that point I’m warmed up and ready to keep going!

  6. just discovered your blog (while googling “running in cold temperatures” btw 😉 ), also just started jog/run, mostly by myself (well, for now I do have a running buddy but I am sure she’ll stop when the temperatures will go around 0 C 😉 ), but I just blackmailed myself to keep running by splurging (in my opinion) on the running jacket (ok it was on sale but still up there pricewise for me). so hopefully that’ll work.
    anyways – great info (especially on a previous post about the clothing!!!). 🙂

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