It seems to me that runners often have difficulty staying motivated at this time of year. Many factors seem to be at play here, not the least of which are the end of a long season of racing, lousy weather, and dwindling hours of daylight. Add to this all the distractions of the holiday season and it can be downright challenging for even the most devoted runner to keep getting out the door.
As such, I have created a short, five-item, motivational checklist for these next few months. I am sure readers will have some of their own tricks but here, for now, are a few of mine:
1. Holiday Excesses: Rich food, great sweets, and wonderful holiday brews all combine to make this season rough on the waistline. However, to be able to indulge guilt-free, we need to get out there every day. Those sugar cookies rinsed down with a Gingerbread Stout taste a heck of a lot better after a nice, long run and that second helping of turkey and stuffing is easier to stomach on the heels of a speed workout.
2. Competitive Juices: As much as we’re all struggling to get off the couch these days, I am certain that the best runners are getting out there and if I don’t follow suit, I’ll fall further and further behind them. While a select few are endowed with impeccable genes that allow for slacking off without any ill effects, most mortals need to keep those legs moving even through snow, sleet, and sludge. Knowing that all the other guys are out there, too, sometimes gives me the push I need.
3. Surprise Opportunities: For some reason some of the sweetest sections of trail with some of the nicest views are revealed when we least expect them. With all the leaves off the trees and the air generally clear, winter is a time when we can see the world anew. Sometimes just getting out on a trail at a different time of day can jar my perspective a wee bit and provide reflection and revelation in the midst of the mundane.
4. Testing Ground: With many of us taking a break from racing, winter is a great time to test new gear, experiment with alternative nutrition strategies, and work on running form. While these three things aren’t necessarily motivational, I have found that it can be exciting and give me something to look forward to when I think of trying a new pair of shoes, experimenting with a new gel flavor, or attempting to actually run with a forefoot plant.
5. Group Dynamics: Finding a group to run with is always a good way to stay after it, especially in the winter. For some reason, the old adage “misery loves company” is particularly true for runners at this time of year. Plus, knowing that there are people waiting for you at the trailhead in the dark should be motivation enough to turn off the alarm clock, get the coffee brewing, and lace ’em up.
So get out there and embrace the misery!
AJW’s Beer of the Week
This week’s Beer of the Week was just released this week from Hardywood Park Brewing in Richmond, Virginia. Their Gingerbread Stout is a spicy blend of holiday flavors that is not too sweet or too subtle. A great beer to sip after a chilly, late-afternoon slog.
Call for Comments (from Bryon)
- Do you ever have trouble getting motivated to run this time of year?
- If so, how do you go about dealing with it?
- Are you one of the lucky ones who’s facing some of the best running weather of the year right now?