Today was/is cold. The first brutally cold day in NYC. (Though an appropriate seasonal reminder of what the weather should be like). Winter sucks. The days are short. It's cold. And most people are either crankily hustling around the city or are hibernating (and social gatherings and interactions become increasingly rare). Winter can be isolating and depressing. It's supposed to be a time of year when people make New Year's resolutions and plan a fresh (productive) start to the new year..... but it's hard, very hard. Today, for me, the deep bone-chilling wind had me (momentarily) questioning my next goal-race on my calendar.
Each and every year (for the past 3 years) I have signed up for a half marathon in the early spring. If I don't have a race planned, a clear goal, and a training calendar as my guide- I'm worried I just won't keep running or stay active in the winter. (because, let's be honest, who wants to run in the winter?? Not me! that's for sure). Staying motivated in the dead of winter can feel impossible.
Signing up for races keeps me accountable and active, especially in the winter (when most mornings I really just want to stay in PJ's-- or in bed-- a bit longer, and enjoy a nice cup of coffee in the warm surroundings of my Brooklyn apartment). But with my goal set, I somehow am much more likely to get up when I should and head outside to log some miles. The problem is..... it's cold, super cold.
So, it's time to FIGHT BACK.
My top 5 tips for surviving winter and staying active:
- Set a goal- as I shared, I typically sign up for a half marathon in March (this year, it'll actually be in February). Your goal doesn't have to be so crazy. But it should be something to hold you accountable and keep you focused short-term to get through these hard months. Tell your friends and family about it- and don't just tell them about the race (or goal), but tell them about your PROGRESS. Each and every little step, share it! Be proud of the hard work you're putting in, and find cheerleaders in your life who will support you.
- Reward yourself- staying active in the winter is HARD WORK. You should most-definitely be rewarded for this. Think of some possible rewards that might help keep you on track. Treat yourself to something nice. After doing something active for x-number of days (whatever # works for you? After 3 days? 5 days? 10 days?), allow yourself a treat. Do you like shopping? For each mile logged (or each 15 minute increment at the gym), allow yourself $5 in a fun shopping outting. [25 miles completed this week.... $125 shopping spree!]. Is ice-cream more your style? Or a nice bottle of wine? Sleeping in on the weekends? Set a reward, stick to your criteria (NO CHEATING), do what you need to do.... and then enjoy what you earned!
- Be flexible- I am a strong proponent of rest-days. I find them helpful scheduled into my training schedule in advance, but also allow many “flex days” which can easily be switched to an off/rest day. If there’s an insane blizzard outside or even if it’s a wonderfully warm winter day (which we’ve had a few of) that would be oh-so-perfect for running/going outside, but you just don’t feel like it…. Allow yourself a day off. Don’t feel bad about it. Just get back out there the next day!
- Positive self-talk- it helps. When you are doubting yourself, think of your goals. Think of how strong and incredible you are, and that you are more than 100000% able to do this one thing. Repeat a mantra that works for you. Visualize the end result of your goal (finishing a race, getting stronger, feeling more confident). Buy shower crayons and write notes to yourself in the shower (i do this, true story). Whatever you can say (aloud) or think/visualize or write down that is positive and reassuring and motivating. DO IT.
- Get a buddy- If you can, get a friend to join you. Maybe they'll join you and sign up for a race too! Even better. Or perhaps you can only get them to commit to a day at the gym, or even a walk through the park or along the waterfront will do. Search for your local running clubs (or club of interest). If group runs aren't your thing, and you can't get a friend to join you... consider indoor classes at one of my favorite spots in the city, Mile High Run Club (where you get to run indoors, surrounded by people of all paces/abilities, and with a coach encouraging you along throughout the full workout). And lastly, you could consider alternate routes to finding a new jogging buddy :) :
If you need further inspiration, or have questions/comments. Please reach out! You can contact me anytime.
Stay Warm. Stay Active. Stay Happy!