Winter Running: Finding Motivation

Getting up early takes practice and discipline, for me, the biggest struggle always occurs during the time change.

The cold mornings, with lack of sun, as I’m snuggled in my cocoon of blankets imprisons me in bed. There are little to no signs of life, other than a faint rhythm of soft in and out breaths through the tiny window I’ve created in the blanket fortress for my face.

At home, I find it’s extremely easy to give in to the creature comforts of my bedroom and hit the snooze repeatedly until my wife and I sit up in sheer panic – just like Kevin’s parents in Home Alone – as we shout, “WE SLEPT IN!”

But there’s work to do.

I’m awake most of the time when my alarm goes off, in fact, most of the time I’m wide awake. So how do I force myself to get up? One trick that I implore is to think of my day ahead. If you’re like me, then you too are familiar with what I’m referring to: most of our days are planned out in advance with work commitments, school commitments, kids’ activities, etc. I think about the day ahead and whether or not I can afford to sleep in.

One example of the first questions I ask myself: If I don’t run this morning, will I have time to run over lunch?

The answer determines whether or not, I hit snooze and nestle into my wife and overbearingly snuggly pooch, or escape the confines of my blanket cocoon and face the day.

These questions are entirely situational, so yours will vary. Another example when I’m traveling for work, I like to think about the day ahead and when I’ll have an opportunity to run. Typically this time is first thing in the morning, as lunch is usually business-related, and the evenings are occupied by more business-related situations and engagements. I have found getting up and just getting it over has been the best way to answer the snooze button at 5 AM.

Dress Accordingly.

I shared my cold weather running insight previously here and on the Holabird blog, check that out for more details, but essentially I lay out all my running clothes ahead of time. This makes the transition relatively painless and quick, which means I’m out the door with little fuss. Faster to get started means the faster I’ll get done and more time for me to come home and warm up after those winter miles!

Find time.

If you have the luxury of an hour break (or more) at your workplace, then I’d recommend using this time to log miles. You get bonus points for getting to sleep in and still get your miles in! Since I’m big into running in a fasted state, practicing intermittent fasting for 3 months now, it’s always either an early morning run or pre-lunch run. Point being, if you NEED to log miles, find some time in your day that you can carve out room for a few minutes of activity.

Make others aware of your intentions!

Letting your spouse, significant other, friends, running buddies, your neighbor, WHOEVER, of your intentions to get up and run will create a level of accountability. Letting down someone you have a close connection with at least offers a level of motivation to get up and get out the door.

While this isn’t the healthiest, it hasn’t failed me. Just a word of caution, this can/may lead to burnout and negative associations with running, so use this sparingly, maybe for a once-a-week run (meeting up with a running club or friend) or monthly for an event or the like.

If you are prone to anxiety, peer pressure may create more harm than good. I would suggest for anyone with anxiety, to meditate on the subject by stating your intentions to the universe. This will take time and practice, but meditation can be an amazing motivator. Take a moment to state your intentions and reflect on what it is you want to accomplish. When you wake up the next morning, focus on your breath and the presence of being, re-iterate your intentions and focus your desire to get up and run. I have found success in this method, as cooky as it sounds, being presently aware can have a profound effect on your actions!

Now it’s your turn!

How do you find the motivation to get up and get moving this time of the year?

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