Staying Motivated Through the Winter Months

I don’t know about you, but here in Boulder, Colorado, we’ve had a gorgeous long fall. Chilly mornings, sunny hot afternoons, and chilly evenings. I run in the mornings, so I bundle up, but when I head out at noon to walk the dog, it’s hot enough to ditch the sweatshirt!

This wonderful fall has spoiled me, and perhaps many of you, so that our recent snowfall and resulting “chill is here to stay” weather forecasts are a little depressing.

The wonderful thing about Winter, though, is its promise of a fresh start. I always begin Thanksgiving with a RunStreak (Runner’s World touts this streak as the #1 way to stay fit in these 39 days through New Year’s Day.) These are tough days, so anything that can help inspire us to keep moving and relax on the eating is helpful!

I think that January is a perfect time to forget about the weather and darkness and cold and embrace the “fresh slate” with gusto. A fresh new calendar (Runner’s World, perhaps? Or your local running club’s calendar?) is the perfect blank canvas to plan your running year ahead!

Start with your goal, or “A,” race. Mine is the Chicago Marathon every October. Pencil that in and then back up each week, writing in those essential 3 (or whatever your training entails) long runs so they are right there in print. If you know your program is 16 weeks, or whatever, pencil in the start date too!

Then choose your “B” race. Mine, both last year and this year, is the Eugene Half Marathon. Pencil it in, add the preceding long runs, and mark your start date (if you follow a particular program).

Now add in any fun runs that you know you do, or that you’d like to do. You’re writing in pencil, so why not dream big? If you’ve always wanted to run that wine country half, look up the date and pencil it in – plan a running date with your running pals and talk about it over coffee – maybe this will be the year it happens!

Many of us run with a running club, while others run alone but with a plan for longer distances. Maybe, if you run alone, this is the year to dip your toes into group runs. Check out your local running stores and see if they have a weekly fun run. This is a wonderful way to stay motivated to get out there in the cold and dark. Our Wednesday night fun runs at our local running store, Flatirons Running, are a highlight and a fixture for our family. The free beer is a nice bonus!

Alternatively, if you only run with a group and get talking, sometimes our workout stops being our own and becomes someone else’s. Maybe it’s time for one run a week alone. Listen to the incredible muffled silence the snow creates. Or pop some Xmas music onto your iPod. Make it a special run. You may end up really enjoying the solitude!

Lastly, don’t forget that in these cold and dark months, we tend to turn to comfort foods. This is not a bad thing, but being aware of it can help us make better choices. Shalane Flanagan recently released Run Fast, Eat Slow, with AMAZING recipes. Treat yourself, or ask for the cookbook as a gift, and enjoy cooking up healthy, nourishing runner-in-mind meals to warm us throughout the winter.

Enjoy this winter and allow your running to play a starring role instead of a minor one. With consistency and dedication, you can enter the spring season with a terrific aerobic base. Building from such strength will make your return to the light and warmth of spring even better and much, much stronger.

See you in Eugene in May!

Ellen Moeller

Age: 43
Location: Boulder, CO.
Running: Eugene Half Marathon

I hail from Boulder, Colorado, a running mecca! I started running when I was 20ish years old as a way to get fit. I am an opera singer and music teacher and have three children, 14, 13 and 11. Over the past three years, I have been training with Revolution Running in Boulder. Running with a running group has made running a major part of my life instead of a minor part. We all ran the Eugene marathon or half last year as a group trip and we all loved it so much that we are coming back this year! I also run every Wednesday evening with a large group of Boulder runners at a local running store, Flatirons Running. The race was an amazing experience. Being in Prefontaine’s hometown was inspirational and walking around the town of Eugene was incredible. I can’t wait to go back! I just finished the Chicago Marathon and have suffered some injuries this last year so I’m going to run the half this year. It would be an honor and a privilege to serve as a Eugene ambassador. Thank you for your consideration.

Ellen Moeller