How to Keep Yourself Running in the Winter

It’s that time of year again. Yes, THAT time of year. The time when the days are short, the afternoons dark and the temperature sinks well below the “it’s a nice day for a run” mark. As I type this the radio is chammering on about a low of 10 degrees tonight… We may still have another month of Fall remaining, but here in the north country Winter makes an early appearance.

So how do you get out on these dark cold days and keep your running schedule alive and healthy? With some simple steps. How do I know they work? ┬áBecause they were created by someone that really doesn’t like the cold and who has a hard time running even when the weather is nice – ME.

Step 1: Make it a surprise. Don’t tell yourself that you’re going for a run. Simply jump right to step two without any conversation of a run in your head.

Step 2: Get dressed. This may sound silly, but I’ve found that the act of getting properly dressed for the cold makes the idea of going out into it much less frightening. Don’t consider going outside until you are fully dressed to go outside. A little brain trickery goes a long way towards getting difficult things done.

Step 3: Listen and learn. Become a sponge for information. I’ve become an audiobook junkie over the past few years. I listen to no less than 3 (educational) books a week. But I only allow myself to listen to them while running. So even though I may not want to go outside or run, I really can’t wait to get back into the book. This is a big incentive to get out there for me.

Step 4: Just walk outside… Fully dressed… With something exciting to listen to.

Step 5: Walk to the street and take a single step… and then another and another and another.

Post some comments below on how you get yourself out the door on days when you’d rather not :)

Here’s a video I made about how to dress for cold weather running to give you some tips and ideas.

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10 Responses to How to Keep Yourself Running in the Winter

  1. ashegam says:

    You covered the mental aspect of getting out there, which is the hardest part, and the physical in your awesome video. Only thing I personally do on top of this is I go down to my buildings gym and run on the treadmill for 5 to 10 minutes with all my running cloth and gear on. This not only “warms me up” in the traditional sense of getting the muscle loose but it actually, and obviously, generates heat and warms my body.

    After about 5-10 minutes, based on how warmed up I feel, I immediately stop and head outside for my “actual” run. For those that don’t have the convenience of gym or a treadmill you can substitute this for your favorite exercise, jumping jacks, jump rope etc….

    The idea is to be nice and warm before you head out in the cold. After all it’s the continuous day after day of experiencing the initial cold that makes you not want to go out for a run the next day. So if you never experience the cold, because you’re already warm when you head out, then you’re mind will never say NO when you want to go out for a run. I have found this to really help with the mental aspect of running in the cold which again is the most important and hardest one. Now I go out and say “what cold?” and enjoy my runs as if it was just another day in spring :)

  2. Kevin Crossman says:

    Great tips Tim.

    One thing that I do is take a look at my indoor cycling trainer and the fear of boredom usually gets me out an running in a hurry.

  3. P Bazanchuk says:

    Misery loves company.
    Grab a headlamp and call up one of your mates.
    Drive out to the trails (preferably one that is snow covered and has been compacted by snow machines).
    Put on the micro spikes or snowshoes and have at it.
    About 45 minutes into your 2 hr run start your own version of the Shorter/Prefontaine conversation, …”no one is training harder than we are right now…”. Try something along the lines of “I wonder how many other folks are out now doing this”.
    Probably more than you think but it’ll keep your spirits pumped.
    Eventually the single digit temps deflate your ego so just tough out the rest.
    When you’re back home by the woodstove you’ll be smiling.

  4. andrea says:

    I got a running partner through NYRR.

    We have been running together for three years now and have become close friends. Her family cam to my place for Thanksgiving. We have completely different lives and would never have met otherwise.

    We text each other to get each other’s butts out of bed and going…we both love/loathe going out on dark cold NYC mornings. And voila, there we are!

    I also download Tara Brach’s buddhist talks and when I am out alone my run becomes a spiritual time. I think it is anyway!

  5. I lucky that I can use running as my mode of transport to the daily job. This makes my only ‘option’ one of running or cycling to work. Cycling being the ‘soft’ option as it takes less time.

    Don’t underestimate the power of laying out your towel or change of clothes. The lure of a hot shower after a run does it for me

    Live smart, run smart

  6. Marcel says:

    Thanks for the inspiration! I’ve only started running this year, at age 41, and it’s the only type of sports I’ve ever liked (ehm, and ever done, actually). Yes, the cold is annoying, but if, like me, you run in the city, I especially dread the streets becoming icy & slippery. I can start going to the gym if all else fails, but I’d rather run outside. What to do? Combining work, a part-time education and running leaves little room for long trips to the fields on the edge of the city.
    Also, when running through the snow like you do in the video, little attention is given to the boots – what kind of boots do you need to run properly in the snow? How can you run in the ones you wear?

  7. Cheoy Lee says:

    What better way to warm up when the world is at it’s coldest?

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