6 Ways Runners Stay Motivated in Colder Weather

Every year when the weather cools off, grizzly bears and black bears head into dens and other natural dwellings. They don’t come out until spring—sometimes 5 to 6 months later.

Their body temperature drops. Their heart rate plummets. Their metabolism slows. They take about one breath per minute. They do not eat. They do not drink. They don’t even urinate or defecate the entire hibernation period.

Do yourself a favor and do not be like our bear friends. When the weather gets cold, it’s tempting to stay inside our den all winter long, watching our metabolism slow as we eat even more and exercise even less. To many, sitting in front of the fire reading a book or watching television is more comfortable than inhaling ice-cold air while running around the neighborhood.

That said, let’s create a new normal for the winter months—one filled with indoor and outdoor workouts that speed up your metabolism and offset the inevitable weight gain we all brace for.

Being a grizzly bear hibernating in a cave is boring. Instead, motivate yourself to do the opposite when the weather cools off. Here are some ideas.

More: 5 Reasons to Run Outdoors This Winter

Sign Up for a Race
Nothing inspires like an end goal, and for runners, that’s often an event on the calendar.

A race is a great motivator no matter what time of year it is. While cold-weather races are less common, there are still plenty out there. Turkey trots, jingle bell runs, resolution runs and cupid runs take place all over the country from November through February. Sign up for one and let your pride take it from there.

If all those options are too cold, sign up for a longer race in March or April and make sure you put in the time to get ready for it. Either way, it will require you to stop hibernating and start running.

More: Tips to Plan Your Race Calendar

Treadmill Motivation
No, the treadmill is not as fun as a nice run outside. But there are ways to make it interesting.

  • Like a GPS watch, the data of your workout is right in front of you as you run. Set a goal (I’m going to hit 3 miles in less than 28 minutes, or I’m going to progress to 7 miles per hour in the next 10 minutes) and go for it.
  • Does your favorite football team have a game on Sunday? Head to the gym and run on the treadmill for the first quarter. Your workout will be done before you know it.

More: 5 Ways to Balance Running Indoors and Outdoors This Winter

New Gear
Nothing beats heading out for a run in a new pair of shoes or shorts or a new shirt. Now that the weather is colder, it’s a great excuse to get some new gear to flaunt.

A new pair of gloves, or a long-sleeve shirt, or pants, or ear warmers are necessary additions to your running outfit. Splurge, then head outside and show it all off.

More: Your Guide to Winter Running Gear

Different Routes
There are some routes that you tend to avoid in the summertime—like trails with no trees to shade you from the baking heat, or tourist-friendly streets that are too crowded during peak season.

Now that the weather has changed, you can start hitting those routes again. Winter-friendly routes do the job of mixing up your training and keeping things interesting. And with less people out, those paths are all yours.

Brace for the Bulge
Let’s face it—the holidays are rough on our waistline. Thanksgiving is a foodie’s favorite day, and the holiday season in December is filled with parties, family gatherings…and a lot of food.

Keeping your running strong throughout these trying times will minimize the damage done. And what can be more motivating than that?

‘Tis the Season
Flip the script. Is the cold weather and lack of daylight demotivating you? Let the hibernating funk of winter motivate you to get outside a few times a week.

When the winter months hit, we’re inside more than enough. Take that attitude and prioritize a few days a week of outdoor running. Along with the new gear, new routes and upcoming race on your calendar, emphasizing running time shouldn’t be a problem.

After all, you are not a grizzly bear. Don’t hibernate like one.

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