8 Ways to Get Motivated in Winter

Do you think I wanted to get up at 5am this morning and go running laps of Bar Beach carpark (uphill) in the rain? NO! But did I do it? YES!


Because I paid money to do it. Ok, as I write this, I realize that sounds crazy. Not only did I wake up in the dark and go and run hills in the rain in the middle of winter, but I paid money to do it. I have just signed up for Term 3 of Runlab, so if I stayed in bed and missed the session, I was effectively throwing $20 out the window. (I actually laid in bed and pictured myself throwing money away, which was enough to get me up.)

Runlab Term 3 Session 1... Kenyan Hills.
Runlab Term 3 Session 1… Kenyan Hills.

1. Sign up to something.

My recent study of one person (myself) proved unequivocally that you are less likely to miss runs or training sessions if you are financially committed to them. So by signing up to a run group, boot camp, or a series of fitness classes, you will be more likely to go. Guaranteed.

2. Find what time of day works for you.

The best time of day to exercise is the time you are most likely to do it. I once read a paper that claimed you burned more fat if you exercised first thing in the morning. But you won’t burn anything if you just keep hitting the snooze button because you can’t bear exercising in the mornings. (This applies to most of the Wooters I know.)

Conversely, performance peaks in the afternoon, which is why, for example, the 100m finals are always held in the afternoon. (That, and TV rights and the like). So if  you prefer to go in the middle of the day or in the afternoon, then I would say that is the best time of day to exercise. You might even prefer to go in the evening or night time, after the kids have gone to bed, helping to alleviate mummy-guilt. This is how the Night Striders were originally formed, after all.

I like to run first thing in the morning, before my brain realizes what I’m doing. But when it comes to the gym, I usually go after work. This brings me to my next point…

3. Don’t go home first.

When I come home from work before going to the gym, no matter how good my intentions are, 9 times out of 10 I won’t make it back out the door. So when I leave for work, I take my gym bag with me, and I go straight to the gym from work. I used to do the same with running too. When I would finish work, I would drive to Nobby’s, get changed into my running gear and run from there. If you work somewhere that is near a path or track you could even run from work when you are done too, before driving home.

4. Commit to running with other people.

Last Monday morning I did a horribly cold and wet run with Cheryl and Helen. When I got home, I immediately posted a run for the following morning on my group’s facebook page. I knew that if I had people to meet, I would force myself to get up on time (5am) and get out the front door on time… Unlike last Sunday, when I didn’t get up at all…

5. Don’t beat yourself up over lost workouts.

I cheated on my long run. I didn’t just cut it short a few kilometres, I completely missed it. It was raining outside, and I had been told it was going to be the coldest day of the year so far…. Polar vortex or some other crazy act of random weather madness I didn’t pay much attention to, other than the fact that it was going to be COLD (by Newcastle standards) and worse than cold… windy too! I’m not sure if it actually was or not, because I didn’t even leave the house that day. (Tip #6… Don’t listen to the weather reports? They only reinforce the negative….)

There will always be missed workouts, due to illness, lack of motivation, or life getting in the way. Don’t let it derail your entire program. In fact, if you don’t have a program, get one! I usually find that having a program helps me stay on track anyway. Or do the next best thing…

6. Register for a race or event.

When I’m training for a race or event, It usually helps to focus me and my training, meaning I am more likely to do my runs, and it also means I’m more likely to have a program.

Many people are motivated by having a goal to work towards. This may be an event. So register for it early to keep you focused, because when you’re financially committed, you’re more likely to do it. (And see point #1)

7. Layer Up

This morning, to get myself out the door, I was wearing long tights, a singlet, longsleeve top, hoodie, gloves and a beanie. I was at a high risk for overheating once I actually started moving. But the benefit of this was, I didn’t actually get cold.

As I was doing intervals, I was able to de-layer as required, leaving all my excess items in the one spot. If I had been out on a run, I would have had random bits of clothing strewn across town.

Another thing I used to do was run a few laps of my block in my jumper to warm up before ditching it in the garden and heading off  for my run.

Smaller items like arm warmers and gloves are handy (no pun intended) because they are easy to stash once removed too.

8. Just get out there and do it

The cold is not that bad.

The rain is not that bad.

The hardest step is the first one out the door, and it gets easier, I promise!

The weather always looks worse when you are looking at it through the window, so just get out there.

No matter how cold it gets here in Newcastle, I will never be as cold as I was on this day…

Lauren, Kirby and Pip: 13km of ice-cold fun!
Lauren, Kirby and Pip: 13km of ice-cold fun!

And if you’re ever in doubt, just follow the flow chart below…


5 thoughts on “8 Ways to Get Motivated in Winter

  1. You make me wanna kick my own ass! Feeling guilty for sleeping in. I’m going to find a new race to sign up to today!

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