Monday, December 15, 2008

How to motivate yourself to run in the cold of winter

Winter motivation is a great topic and one that I think gets overlooked quite a bit because we aren’t all up there with our fellow runners in the northern states where winter can bring inches if not feet of ice and snow from one day to the next!

The key to braving the elements is to give your self a reason for suffering. By this, I mean setting a goal. However, this goal can’t be just ANY goal. No, you have to set one that matters enough to you that you will risk frostbite, hypothermia, or the other gruesome dangers that arise when exposing yourself to extreme temperatures.

Running in inclement weather is painful, and I don’t always enjoy it. I am motivated to do so because I know it is a necessary byproduct of being a runner who has a personal goal that is worth suffering for. My personal goals are irrelevant to this post because it is likely they are different than anyone else’s who is reading this. The simplicity of the goal setting concept is that the goals matter a great deal to me and me alone. Because of this, others might not find them worth the suffering I am willing to put into my training.

So, one of the most important aspects to staying motivated during seasonal extremes is that each runner set a personal goal or goals to base his or her motivational foundation upon.

The beauty of all of this goal setting is that one day our goals will change and when that happens we will simply need to retool our mindset to accommodate those new goals. In doing this, we will continue to train on a personal, motivational foundation that does not matter to anyone else other than ourselves.

Until then, when its 20 degrees outside with a 30 mile per hour headwind, win or lose, we know we did everything we could to prepare ourselves for the race by basing our training on goals that drive us; and in achieving those goals, we have won (even if you’re not on the podium)!

Side bar:
For the past 1.5 years I’ve lived in Atlanta where we get all four seasons to varying degrees. Prior to Atlanta, I was in Houston, TX where heat and rain were our only concerns but now training in the bitter cold and sometimes snow is a regular occurrence throughout the winter. Once the freeze is over, the rains come, and then it is on to the brutal heat of summer. My motivational foundation to train outdoors during these times is based on my current goal, and that is the extra incentive I need to get out there and swim, bike, and/or run.

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  Sunday run in the rain.