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11 Ways to get motivated to run in the cold weather

Ashley Crossman, Ph.D. is a certified RRCA running coach and ACE personal trainer. She owns her own coaching business, She Runs Strong, and has been the running coach for two charity training teams in Phoenix, Arizona: the MS Rockstars (...

Don't let winter keep you from running — here's how to stay motivated

When it's cold outside and in the dead of winter with fewer daylight hours, it's easy to lose the motivation to run or work out. The cold weather and dark mornings and evenings don’t have to mean that your running routine is compromised. Keep your commitment and stay on track this winter, and your runs will feel even more amazing in the spring.

Make exercising a priority. If you want to do it, you will find a way. Do you want to get up at 5:00 a.m. to run when your warm bed is more inviting? Not really, but you’ll find the hardest part is getting up. Once you are dressed and out on the quiet streets, you will be happy. It is a great way to start the day! Plus, when you get off of work, you can play with your kids, take the dog for a walk, do errands and just be happy knowing that you are done with your workout and can relax. Don’t use daylight as an excuse — there are ways to safely run in the dark.

More: 9 Safety tips for running at night

Schedule workouts in advance. Look at what workouts you need to do for the week and put them on your calendar, just like an appointment. Schedule your workouts around your other activities. For instance, don’t schedule a long run the morning after a late-night party. Be flexible, but it’s always good to set an initial time frame for the week.

Keep track of your workouts. Use a training log. After you’ve completed each workout, check it off on your training log and write down any useful information about that day’s run — how did it feel, what were the conditions outside, how long did you go and what was your time. This instant feedback helps you feel accomplished and can help keep you accountable. This also allows you to look back over time and see the progress you have made. If you’re feeling stuck in a rut, pull out old training logs and remind yourself of how far you have come since you began. This can help motivate you to keep going and not quit.

Change your attitude. Stop focusing on the negatives, like “I should not eat those fries” or “I better not drink that soda.” Start from the inside by saying affirmations when you start each day like, “I am someone who takes care of my body,” “I am someone who will accomplish my goals.” The difference is that the second set of statements focuses on who you are and what you expect in your life, not just the change you want to make. The affirmations call for action and foster your success. Your attitude will likely decide your success at staying committed.

Remember why you run. It’s not selfish. It is good for you. When you are happy, the people around you are happy, too. You will be a better parent, spouse, friend and employee.

More: 8 Surprising benefits of running

Keep your gear nearby. Keep a spare pair of running shoes and some clothes in a drawer at work so that if you have an urge to run at lunch, you can. You can also keep stuff in the trunk of your car. The cool thing about running is that you can do it almost anywhere, anytime. When you are doing an early morning run or race, lay your stuff out the night before so that you don’t have to think — just get dressed and go.

Find a friend. Find a running partner to run with. You can’t get lazy when you are accountable to someone else. Plus, it’s fun and a great way to catch up with friends. You will be surprised at how fast the time goes when you are chatting with a friend.

Get enough sleep. It is well documented that if you don’t get enough sleep, you will not be as productive and your mood is likely to be affected. Set a goal for a steady seven to eight hours each night. If you don’t sleep enough, your muscles won’t recover from your workouts properly, and you may suffer chronic soreness. Your immune system won’t protect you as well from illnesses that are going around if you don’t let your body re-charge. If you’re getting sick several times a year, that will set back your progress with your workouts and diet and ultimately set back your overall weight loss or wellness progress.

Keep a routine. It is so easy to fall out of routine, especially when our lives are disrupted with life changes like moving or taking a new job or during the holidays. Often times, this is unavoidable; but if you can, keep as much of a routine as possible. Running can play a huge role here. If you can keep your running routine day-by-day or week-by-week, not only will you feel better physically and mentally, but it will give you a sense of regularity and routine, even if the rest of your day is complete chaos.

Run your stress away. If you’re feeling stressed, depressed, overwhelmed or run-down from life changes happening in your life, take a break and go for a short run or walk outside. Ten or 20 minutes of exercise can help get your endorphins moving, lower your stress hormones, and help lift your mood.

Reward Yourself. Set small goals and reward yourself for meeting those goals. For example, if you complete all of the week’s scheduled workouts, treat yourself to a pedicure or that new color of nail polish that you always wanted. For each workout you complete, give yourself $1. Once you have enough saved up, treat yourself to that new outfit or Garmin you’ve been wanting. Stay away from using food as a reward, however. Rewards should be services like a manicure or massage; goods like workout clothes or running gear; or free things like a bubble bath.

More: I thought qualifying for the Boston Marathon was impossible — until I did it

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