I would suggest acknowledging that winter may be a time of decreased activity is useful; indeed this may be a time to rest and recover after a busy summer of events and adventures- but, having strategies to use when you are in the grips of the winter blues will benefit you psychologically as well as physically. If we draw upon my initial point that momentum builds momentum and focus on the positive side of this, increased activity and problem solving will in turn lead to an increased sense of wellbeing and may lessen the effect of any seasonal affective change.
We are more likely to hit the snooze button or sleep through when it’s wet and ugly outside if we are going out solo. Increase your chances of getting up by having a plan to meet a like-minded friend. A challenge shared is a challenge halved, you’ll keep each other accountable, and you’ll have a good time doing it.
Run Somewhere Fun
It sounds simple, but if you’re making the effort to get after it in winter, you might as well make an effort to run somewhere fun. Plan a trip to your favourite place. Adventure takes the sting out of effort, and the accomplishment of running somewhere you love in less than ideal weather gives an extra shine of accomplishment.
Run Somewhere New
Been putting off that new urban route or that link up of trails? There is no time like the present. As I mentioned above, adventure and playful fun is important. The sensation of being somewhere you’ve never run before can be incredibly fulfilling. Combine this with an outing with a friend for increased excellence.
Layer Up. All the Way Up
Start your run with way too many layers on. After five minutes you’ll be questioning your choices as the rule of thumb is start as if you’d be cold standing still. Loop back to the start point, drop some layers off and get back out there. You’ve given yourself by default another ten minutes running.
Enter An Event
Depending where you are, there are several event series held in winter which offer a good chance to blast away some cobwebs, are extrinsically motivating and useful learning experiences. Not feeling all that sharp? It doesn’t matter. Treat the race as a B or C effort, talk your friends into getting out with you and have a grand old time. The very act of racing is motivating enough and may give you increased impetus to train both pre and post the event.
Enter A FUN Event
Winter is the perfect time to have fun in face of the cold and wet. Why not step outside your comfort zone and enter a race where the focus is mainly on fun? Never done an Obstacle Course Race? What’s stopping you dipping your toe in? Adventure takes the sting out of effort and it is useful from a developmental perspective to try new things. Alternatively, dust off the Mountain Bike and enter a short course winter series race, anything where the focus is primarily on having fun. The happier you are the more motivated you are.
Run To Meet Friends
I will often plan to run somewhere i.e. to a cafe to catch up with friends or to a beach to go for a walk with company. Giving your exercise practical utility is a useful way to increase your chances of maintaining motivation.
Make It Non Negotiable
Not feeling it? Make your run the one thing you have to do today. Even if you are out for ten minutes that is something. Although I would suggest that those of you who go for the first ten minutes will keep going for the next fifty. If your motivation is so low that you must have a day off, then have one, but, have it tomorrow. Make a bargain with yourself that tomorrow you can rest but you must get amongst it today. Acknowledge that maximum growth occurs on the cusp of support and challenge and get out the door. Even if you only do get five minutes in (which I’m picking you won’t) this is evidence that you are maintaining a consistent and disciplined commitment to your well being. This standpoint will go a long way to beating the winter blues.