As much as I like to brag about what a badass (work with me) winter runner I am, I do kind of hate it.
It’s dark. And cold. There is no sunlight to warm you. There is no light to show you things on the ground that you can trip over. Drivers don’t always see you, even when you’re wearing bright colors and a reflective hat. Everyone else out walking at night wears all black, therefore you can’t see them until they are 5 feet away and they startle you. You can’t run on the trails, so you’re limited to the same boring loops around your neighborhood. Did I mention it’s cold?
Plus you have to dress like a total nerd:
So it definitely takes some extra motivation to get my butt out the door for a run this time of year. This is what works for me:
Spend money on it. I have a dresser full of running clothes (a dresser – how did that happen???) and it includes a few pairs of running tights, long sleeve base layers, vests, jackets, hats, headbands, gloves, neck warmer, various reflective things … and I can’t let that go to waste, can I?
Bargain with yourself. I tell myself that given the conditions, just getting out there, even if it’s for a short run, is something. If I want to just do 2 miles, that’s fine, I still got out there. Although usually once I’m out there, and warmed up (which usually happens between miles 1 and 2), I keep going and do my usual 4-5 miles.
You can always stop at home. I have yet to do this, but the first couple of miles of any cold, dark run are the worst, because you’re still warming up. I should throw on an extra layer, and plan my run so I stop home after a mile or two, when I can ditch that layer.
What else are you going to do? I don’t have kids. What else am I going to do with me time? (Read? Cook? Nahhhhhh.)
Think about bikini season. Yes, it’s months and months away. Think of what a head start you’ll have! Especially if you never let last season’s bikini body (or your attempts at achieving one) go away.
Think about next year’s races. If you’re doing a spring marathon, then you have to start training now or soon. But if you’re doing a fall marathon? (Or races of other distances?) Think of the awesome base you’re building. Next year will be the year of PR’s for you! And you’ll do much better at races if you keep training in race-like conditions. (I have yet to find a race on a treadmill.)
Stuff your face with Christmas cookies. Then you have to run. That’s how it works, right? You have to earn your treats? (Like a dog?)
Think of it as an up-close-and-personal tour of Christmas lights. Sure, you could drive around in your warm car, with Christmas music playing, and look at the lights. But that’s no fun. OK, it’s fun, but running is … funner.
Keep bragging about running outside in the winter. If you keep bragging about it, you can’t be a hypocrite.
Make it social. If your weekly group run is the only time you see your running friends … what, are you just going to “break up” until spring? Don’t be a fair-weather friend! (Literally.) Bonus: make a date for post-run beers. Then it’s not so much “running outside” but going for a pre-beer run.
There is no bad weather, just bad gear. If you have the right gear, you can safely run in temps down to single digits, maybe even colder (but even I have my limits). However, I’ll be the first to admit that rainy + cold is a crappy combination and unless it’s a race, I would probably take that run indoors, or move it to another day. But snowy and cold is fine.
What else helps get you out the door when it’s dark and below freezing?