This time of year can be tough at the best of times: it’s cold, often wet, and some days, it never even seems to get properly light. The motivation to get the trainers on and get out the door when the sofa looks so tempting can be pretty hard to summon. We’ve all been there! This is most certainly not something that only new or ‘casual’ runners feel – even top runners struggle sometimes, and need tips and tricks to get them out of that cosy warm house into the cold.
But at the moment, we are all probably more aware than ever of how important it is to get, or stay, fit and healthy – and also how important it is to get some headspace. The mental health benefits of running are well known, and all runners know they will feel better afterwards. But how do you push yourself outside when you really just don’t feel the urge? Here are some of our top tips:
Make It Hard To Wiggle Out Of It!
As we are currently allowed to exercise with one other person, why not arrange to run with someone else? Having someone to meet will give you that extra incentive and a specific place and time to get out of the door for. And even if you can’t actually meet up with someone, why not link up with a running buddy and make yourselves each others motivators: agree an exact time you will both run at, perhaps even with a ‘fine’ if you don’t do it – you’ll owe then a fiver, or a drink next time you can meet up…
In Better Times…
Once things go back to a more normal way of life, if you are still having motivation issues, do join a club or a running group. Having other like-minded people will get you out of the door and to training, and give you lots to talk about too.
Adapt Your Goals
It’s particularly hard at the moment as many people thrive on a deadline: entering a race is a perfect motivator. But with so many cancelled or postponed, that is tricky. So why not enter a virtual series, or think longer term? If, for instance, you’ve never run a marathon and have always wanted to, now is your perfect chance to very slowly and gradually build towards that goal. You can also think of this period as being a good time to really strengthen any weaknesses you have: do that core work you’ve always meant to, or work on your flexibility. Then by the time races properly re-start, you’ll be in a great place to start your specific training.
Give Your Run A Purpose
If you were planning an interval session or a hard run, and just can’t face it, then don’t! But you can still get out and about – just give your run another purpose. What about, “the purpose of this run is to enjoy it” – and make sure you run at a pace that is comfortable for you so you really achieve that. Or if you need to go out for some food, why not run to the shops and back so that your run becomes ‘useful’ as a way of saving time as well as getting some exercise.
Try Different Approaches – That Still Involve Running
If you always run the same route, try a different one. Even just reverse your usual one! If you always stay flat, find some hills. If you always stay on road, get off it, and get a bit muddy. Explore new places, and in new ways. Have you ever tried combining running with other activities, like orienteering or geocaching? That can be a brilliant way to get some miles in without even noticing – you’ll be too busy navigating or trying to figure out where to go next!
If you always listen to music, and it’s not doing it’s usual motivational trick, then either mix up the playlist or try something else – podcasts, or an audiobook. If you don’t listen to music, you could give it a try – or equally leave the headphones at home and try and find somewhere where you can hear the sounds of nature. Listen to some birds singing in a park, or just the silence of a quieter space. That can also be very calming – something else we all need at the moment.
Running is our hobby and there’s no need to be pointlessly puritan about it. If you like fancy kit, and can afford to spend a bit of money on it, why not! It might make you excited about getting outside for a run. New shoes can make you feel bouncy again, and in winter, proper cold weather running gear can mean you still enjoy your freezing run, and are therefore more likely to go out again.
Mix Up Your Routine, But Start Right
Always run at lunchtime? Always have Mondays off? Why not mix it up. Try getting out super early – of course, its really hard to push yourself out the door when its still dark, but you’ll really get a smug glow of endorphins after that one. Starting the week with a nice gentle Monday morning run always really feels like you’ve started the week in the right way, setting a pattern for the rest of it.
Run In The Morning
We all have our favourite times of day to run, but personally I like to get my runs done fairly early. Otherwise you can spend the entire day putting it off, only to find something else crops up. Clearing your head with a run also really helps set you up for a productive working day. Of course not everyone has that option, but it’s worth a try if your schedule allows.
Prepare Everything In Advance
If you want to run early, get all your kit ready the night before – even leave some of it on a radiator so that you can climb into nice warm running clothes. Some people even sleep in their running kit, though that’s not something I’ve ever tried… Oh, and make sure you charge your Garmin!
For some more running inspiration check out our short film: “I Run On”.