Take Five

Well the arctic blast has officially hit Chicago and I am slowly coming out of denial that winter is on the way.  While it isn’t super chilly yet, that first blast of cold always feels frigid.  Last night as we went for a walk in a cool 39°F I remarked that soon we would consider this a heat wave.  Ugh, I am not quite ready for that!



Winter always leaves me feeling a bit lethargic.  I am a bit more reluctant to leave my warm bed in the morning and I usually feel ready for a nap in the afternoon.  As the cold closes in we are all less likely to head outside for walks and other activities.  Living in the Midwest during the winter can be difficult because once that snow starts to pile up, it becomes a bit of a pain in the you know what to do outdoor activities.

There of course is always the gym, but sometimes the thought of taking the time to head out there seems like a big ordeal.  Factoring in time to and from the gym makes schedules a bit more tricky.  Let’s face it, all of these reasons become perfect excuses to fall out of your running or workout routine.  It becomes pretty easy to end up in winter hibernation.

As I was working with athletes training for the Chicago Marathon I heard a lot of people tell me that the group runs were what really helped people stay accountable.  For many, they felt that without those group runs it would have been easy to fall off track with their training.  We spent a lot of runs discussing how many of these first time runners were struggling with staying on task.  Finding time after work can be tricky and for many it was easy to make excuses later in the day and just head home where there were other priorities that also needed to be taken care of.


One athlete remarked that it is usually just getting started that is the hardest part.  Getting the gumption to throw on the running clothes and actually head out the door is usually the most difficult part of just about any run.  And that cold winter environment can leave you less than thrilled to get started.  Personally for me that is my biggest hurdle, stepping into that chilly air.

It is important during these times to remember how great you feel during and after your runs or workouts.  This athlete remarked that once she got started every run was totally worth it and not that big of a deal.  This was the case even on the days when she was utterly exhausted and could barely put her shoes on, let alone get started.  She said that about five minutes into each run she completely forgot how exhausted she was and started to feel great.  In fact, some of those runs she dreaded the most ended up being the most enjoyable and even some of her most successful ones.

This is a great lesson to learn this time of year.  I like to go by the Five Minute Rule.  Tell yourself to just get out the door and get started.  If in five minutes your body isn’t responding or you are still not feeling it, you can turn around and go home. However, 99.9% of the time you will forget to even look at your watch.  Once you get going and your body and mind warms up, you won’t want to stop.  And if you truly do want to go home, then that run wasn’t meant to be.


Some quick tips to make those cold weather runs happen:

Plan ahead and mark your run on your schedule.  If it is a morning run, lay your clothes out the night before.  If you are doing an evening run, pencil it in to your schedule just like you would a meeting.

Set out your clothes the night before or pack them in your gym or work bag.  Being prepared leaves you no excuses.

Get some fun and warm winter running gear.  Feeling good in what you wear and knowing you will be warm once you get going will make everything much easier.

Have a nice warm treat waiting for you when you are done.  For me, I really look forward to a warm cup of chocolate almond milk after a chilly run.  Yum!

What are your cold weather running motivators?

Have a great weekend!

19 thoughts on “Take Five

  1. I had to give myself an extra 30 minutes to get myself out the door this morning. i don’t even know why. I just couldn’t do it.
    Can we become running buddies soon please?

  2. I definitely bombed last winter. Though I did pick it up a little towards the end with lots of cross country skiing, I can totally attest to the fact that it is super easy to fall into a slump. Your tips are spot on. A group of local runners and I have already started a “headlamp run club” for Tuesday nights for the next couple months so I know I won’t miss that. The other days of the week? I know it’s going to take a little bit of tough love, but I keep thinking that the fact that I’m going to have to be conditioned enough to run with a group at least once a week will hopefully help me from sliding! Thanks for sharing this!

  3. Oh yeah, I’m one of those that likes to snuggle under the covers on cold days. But what motivates me is that when I miss a run (most of my runs are with my run club) I end up seeing pics on Facebook of all my running club friends and then I feel like I should have been out there with them.

  4. I set goals for myself and keep those in mind, plus on really cold days I like to work up a good sweat inside before heading out — then the cold seems to be more refreshing than numbing!

  5. Hey great post…it’s not so much the cold that gets me it’s the darkness…living in London running in the dark alone doesn’t appeal but that’s when I head to the gym..and in the winter it’s so much quieter there it’s lovely!! When I do head out at the weekends I look forward to the hot shower at the end!! X

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