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5 tips for winter running motivation

The days are getting shorter and the weather's getting colder, but don't let that stop you from training

Sorry to break the news to everyone out there, but winter is just around the corner. While some of you might prefer winter, for the majority of runners, it’s just something we have to make it through to be able to enjoy the spring and summer. But even if you hate winter, you can’t let it stop you from running. If you’re someone whose internal drive wanes between the months of November and March, pay attention, because here are five tips to help motivate you for winter running. 

Run virtual challenges 

Cory Freedman is the founder and owner of the Toronto Women’s Run Series, and she says she plans on using virtual running challenges as motivation during the upcoming winter months. One of those virtual events she’ll focus on is her own 416 Run Challenge, which was launched in September and is open until July 2021. Runners in this challenge (which is open to anyone) have the ultimate goal of running 416K, and it doesn’t matter whether they accomplish this feat quickly (Freedman says there are already four finishers) or take until July 31 when the event ends. To date, 850 people have signed up for the challenge, and registration is open until the end of 2020. Freedman has personally completed about 240K so far.

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Virtual challenges help me feel that I’m accountable,” she says. “I’ve also entered a few challenges in team setups, which is fun.” Having a goal is a great way to keep yourself dialled in and eager to train, and if that goal comes in the form of a virtual event, you’ll be able to chase PBs and quick race results all winter long. 

Toronto Women’s Run Series 8K/5K.

Find a running buddy

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Another way to hold yourself accountable in training—even during the darkest and coldest days of winter—is to start running with other people. “I’ve seen lots of running partners doing the 416 Challenge together,” Freedman says. “So there’s a sort of mini competitive edge for those people so they can see who can finish faster.”

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If you’d rather not get competitive with your friends, planning to meet up for fun and easy runs is still a great way to stick to your schedule. “If you don’t show up, you’ll let other people down,” Freedman says. Finding a running buddy (or buddies) will help you both stay motivated throughout the winter and beyond. 

Cold Weather Running

Stick to your schedule

“You have to remind yourself that you’ve set a goal to get out running however many days a week,” Freedman says. You set that goal and schedule for a reason, and you’ll be happy when you stick with it. 

Do what you can 

Freedman says many of the participants in the 416 Challenge are walkers. “They’re people who have never been a part of a race. Now they’re like, ‘Hey, I can do this.’ That’s encouraging because the point was to make it accessible to everyone.” Even if you don’t feel like you can run on a given day, you can still go out and do a walk-run style workout. Walk one minute, run the next and repeat. Getting out for anything (even a slow walk or run) is better than not getting out at all. 

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Get creative 

Freedman says another great way to keep motivated in training is to get creative. She points to Everesting, which so many cyclists have gotten into since the start of the pandemic. This challenge (which runners can do, too) involves gaining 8,848m of elevation (the height of Mount Everest) in a single workout. This is a pretty monstrous undertaking, but you don’t have to do it all at once. Instead, give yourself a week, a month or even a few months to cover that much elevation gain. Once again, this gives you something to chase, and it might help encourage you to get out the door (even when you don’t necessarily want to at first).  

Just test it out 

“What’s that classic line we tell ourselves when we don’t want to run?” Freedman says. “‘If I get out the door and run for 10 minutes and still feel lousy, I can turn around and run home.’ I don’t think anyone’s ever turned around after running for 10 minutes. Getting out the door is most of the battle, and once you’re running, you’re happy to be there.” Give this a shot. We promise it’ll work 99 times out of 100. 

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