How to Stay Motivated in the Winter

When the days get darker and the weather gets colder, I have many people ask, “How the hell can you go for a run in this weather?”  It’s so hard to stay motivated in the winter.  Trust me, there are days when I would much rather stay curled up in bed when my alarm goes off.  However, over the years, I’ve gotten pretty good at keeping my fitness going in the winter.  For this week’s Tuesday on the Run topic, I’m talking about 3 ways that help me stay motivated to workout or motivated to run in the winter.



Change your focus

When I am in season training for a race, I find plenty of motivation in working towards my goal.  I get out the door to run because I know that each step will bring me closer to a race goal.  But once the season finishes, I no longer have a race as a carrot to keep driving me.  How do I stay motivated to workout in the winter?  Changing my focus.




As I described a few weeks ago in an Instagram post, I never liked the term “off-season” because it caused my eating disorder brain to go on red alert.  Yet, if I continued to workout and run, I would run myself straight into burnout or injury.  So to balance my need to workout with the need to take time away from running, I maintain my motivation in the winter with lots of cross-training.  I work on yoga, upper body strength, and/or changing my race focus from ultra marathons to shorter distances keep me motivated.  The foundation I lay during this “refocus period” will start me off with an advantage when I do begin a training cycle.


Workout with a group

When it’s still dark at 6am, it’s a lot easier to maintain my motivation to run if I know that I have a running buddy or a group waiting for me.  For example, on Fridays I attend November Project before heading off to work.  Knowing that I have that group of friends waiting for me makes it a lot easier to wake up and run there.  Finding a group or another dedicated athlete to meet on the path or at a gym can make training in the winter months much more bearable.


Winter motivation to workout, november project
Photo Cred: Ashley


For November and December, I have switched my focus to speed work as I prepare for the F3 Half Marathon.  I’m participating in EDGE Athlete Lounge’s group training.  Oh how I’ve missed training with others!  We have speed workouts every Tuesday evening and long runs every Saturday.  This past Saturday it POURED all morning in Chicago; by myself I would have skipped the run or opted for a treadmill.  Instead, I had my group to run with and ended up having a blast.  There are lots of running groups that continue to meet in the winter: Clocktower Runners, CARA, various Fleet Feet fun runs, etc.  I encourage you to find a group to help stay motivated in the winter months.


3 Ways to Stay Motivated in the Winter
Can you find me in this picture? Photo Cred: Robyn


Do a fitness challenge

A few years ago, my gym did a fitness challenge: go to the gym every day between Thanksgiving and Christmas and earn a free month of membership.  Confession, there were days where I just swiped in to shower there and didn’t actually workout, just so I got the free month.  While that’s definitely NOT the result the gym wanted, I’ve taken the idea of a challenge and applied it in a way that works for me.


November Project is currently doing “Abvember” where we do one kind of ab move every day.  I often neglect core workouts when I am training for an ultra due to time, so it’s fun to follow this fitness challenge.  I know that Runner’s World also does a “Run Streak” for the winter months to keep runners motivated, and I’ve seen gyms around Chicago advertising November yoga challenges or strength challenges.  Any type of fitness challenge can help motivate you to workout in the winter months.


November project, abvember, winter workout motivation


Those are my three ways to stay motivated to workout in the winter months.  Yes, I’m still human, and yes, I still hit the snooze button many times.  But these three winter motivation sources keep me going about 95% of the time.  By maintaining a base, focusing on often neglected fitness areas, doing fitness challenges and finding friends or groups to workout with, winter doesn’t seem as daunting.


How do you stay motivated in the winter?  Leave your comment below to inspire other ways to keep moving this winter! 


Happy running,


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MCM Mama Runs (@mcmmama)

I’m always motivated to run because it’s my anti-depressant, but I’m planning to join a (not free) challenge this year in hopes that it will get me to actually lift weights (not my favorite). My body needs me to switch focus, but I’m having a hard getting motivated.


Training for Boston probably motivated me more over the winter than anything since. Haha! That said, I love taking advantage of an empty gym and you can shoot a cannon through mine between now and the end of the year and not hit anyone.


Wow! A free month membership is quite motivation to go everyday. I would have done the same thing, go to shower, haha!