[This is a guest blog from Dan Chabert. Dan writes from Copenhagen, Denmark. Dan is an entrepreneur, husband and ultramarathon distance runner. He spends most of his time on runners101.com, runnerclick.com, gearware.com and monicashealthmag.com. He has been featured on runner blogs all over the world.]
It’s dark when you wake up, and by 4:30 the sun is setting. You have more layers than an onion, and hand warmers are a staple of your wardrobe. You celebrate each venture outside that you don’t slip on the ice. Winter happens to runners each year without fail. It’s easy to lose your motivation when each run is a battle with the elements!
Racing is a popular way to stay on track and motivated by having a specific goal and training plan. But racing in the winter isn’t easy. Race day weather is a true wild card and getting all your training runs in between holiday plans and road conditions can be more of a stress than a positive motivator.
Here are 3 ways to stay motivated without signing up for a race:
Focus on Quality over Quantity
When the weather is nice and the sun is up before 6am, it’s not a trying experience to get up and out the door 4+ times a week. But, when it’s 12 degrees and so dark you need a headlight, summoning the will to get out of bed is tough, and staying out for 90+ minutes doesn’t sound as appealing.
By cutting down the number of runs a week – from, say, 5 to 3 – and focusing on the quality, it’s not as daunting and you can keep your fitness even when you aren’t running as often.
Interval runs, tempo, and track workouts can be done in shorter amounts of time and reap the benefits of longer lower-intensity runs. Track your progress over the weeks by logging your top speeds at varying intervals; 200m, 400m, 800m and the mile. Getting faster at these workouts can replace the drive and focus you typically get from race training.
Create a Group Challenge
Having outside accountability is a big motivating factor for nearly all of us, and stating your goals to others – even if you don’t actually know them! – can be what gets you out the door when you’d rather stay under the covers.
If you run with a local run group, suggest a challenge to the regulars to keep everyone engaged and excited through the winter months. Rewards can be anything from bragging rights to a raffle.
Here’s some ideas:
● Logging the most miles with the group; weekly, monthly, November-February
● Beating your individual mileage; weekly, monthly, November-February
● Biggest streak in showing up each week
● Men vs women for total mileage; weekly, monthly, November-February
Thanks to apps like Runkeeper, Mapmyrun, Strava, and more, we’re no longer limited by location in finding running buddies. Join virtual challenges through these apps or your fitness tracker; Garmin, Fitbit, etc.
Try a Treadmill Program
It’s referred to the dreadmill for a reason; monotonous steady-state runs feel at least twice as long when you aren’t actually going anywhere. But, hear me out! The treadmill can be a useful tool, especially when weather and daylight come into play.
On the average gym treadmill, the preprogrammed workouts aren’t typically anything to get excited about. Fortunately fitness pros recognize this and there are some treadmill based training programs that will make you look at the treadmill in a completely different light!.
Personally, I completed David Siik’s 9-week Ultimate Treadmill Workout and was not only faster come March, but fully engrossed with the workouts all winter! I was continuously challenged and each segment was 2 minutes at the very most, but primarily 60 seconds or less.
Another popular option is Jill Coleman’s TreadLift 12-week program, which combines strength training and treadmill sprints to leave you faster and stronger. Each workout is 30 minutes or less which is perfect for a quick morning workout or post-work sweat session.
How do you stay motivated in the winter?