Get motivated to run this holiday season

So, you like running, but it’s pretty much dark out by the time you get home from work, and it’s cold. So, you skipped another day. Sound familiar?

How can you get motivated to run during the winter? Here are some of my tips. (Vanessa Junkin photo)
How can you get motivated to run during the winter? Here are some of my tips. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

Here are my tips on staying motivated even throughout the winter, when the weather is less of a motivator. I was asked to write about motivation, and I thought it was a great idea.

Make plans with a friend or group. This particularly works well for me when I am only meeting one other person, because you know he or she is counting on you.

I am not a morning person, but I will get up early to run — if I am meeting someone. If you arrange to meet with a friend at 6:30 a.m. and decide to sleep in instead of meeting them, that leaves them hanging. If you tell yourself you’re going to wake up at 6:30 a.m. and run, it’s easy to continue to hit the snooze button without breaking a commitment to anyone except yourself. Plus, for me, runs go by faster if I’m with other people, and I’m likely to run more miles than I would have alone.

Promise yourself a reward. For me, this is often a food-related reward, which I probably shouldn’t recommend. But occasionally, I think it’s OK. I often reward myself with a coffee smoothie after a 10-plus mile run. And I’ve also used hot chocolate as a reward after a 5-mile run.

If you don’t want to reward yourself with food, think of some kind of non-food treat that you’ll enjoy — new running socks, a new piece of jewelry or 20 or 30 minutes of time to set aside to read. Some of those things may be after hitting a certain goal mileage or something — that would get expensive if you are running regularly and giving yourself a gift every time. Be creative!

Set a goal. Think of a goal you’d like to achieve, and put your mind — and feet — to it. Maybe you want to run 50 miles in a month. Or, run 15 out of the 30 days in a month. Possibly you want to complete a race or a new race distance, or set a new personal record. Another goal could be a healthy weight loss aspiration. Having something to work toward might help you be more motivated in running more often.

Try running in a new location. One of the reasons I have enjoyed exploring different towns on Delmarva through running is because it makes running more exciting and interesting. My runs go by so much faster when I am able to explore along the way.

This also isn’t as easy to do during the winter, when there aren’t many hours of light, and I wouldn’t recommend exploring a new place in the dark. But stake out a place you’d like to run within about an hour’s drive or so, and make the trip, if you can. Keep safety in mind. If you can’t travel far, you may want to look into running somewhere different in your own town, maybe with a friend in his or her neighborhood.

Do you do anything similar to keep you motivated? What would you recommend to help people stay motivated?