So you want to know how to stay happy and motivated, while running in pissing rain, gale force winds and freezing cold do you?
Yeah me too.
Sorry to lure you into this post under false pretenses, but I’ve run out people to whinge to about the weather. It’s bloody grim out there, isn’t it?
Don’t get too down about it though. After running through the rain, snow, hail and wind last winter, and then 30-odd degree heat during the summer’s marathon training I would just like to assure you all that you will (almost certainly) survive your winter training and that running in extreme climates is character building. I mean, despite the memories of last Spring’s arduous training being still quite fresh, I managed 6kms of threshold work this morning, even though I heard the wind and rain howling outside my bedroom window. Admittedly I ran those cheeky reps on the treadmill, but still – traveling to the gym in treacherous conditions is character building. It helps build resistance to common sense and lie-ins, and it makes you feel like maybe, just maybe, you are a distant relative of Bear Grylls…
Of course, I should probably mention that my trainers were completely sodden by the time I actually got to the gym, that I got blown all over the road while cycling there, was knackered from cycling into a head wind the whole way (at least it felt like it…), and my session was 20 minutes longer than anticipated because of the journey.
But still – character building.
If, however, you need a little more motivation to keep running through the winter you might want to give one of these a try:
The Marathon Talk folk are running (pun intended) their annual Jantastic competition to keep you motivated through January, February and March.The idea is to make you accountable for your running goals – however big or small they may be. It’s about being honest about your resources – time, energy, concentration span – setting achievable goals, and bloody going for them!
In Jantastic January you must declare how many runs a week you will do during the whole three months. I have committed to 4. Crumbs!
In Febulous February (seriously, they use these words… I haven’t made them up) you decide how far your longest run will be. I am as yet undecided, but last year it was 14 miles, in keeping with my half marathon training plan.
And finally, in Marchvellous (I know…) March you guess how fast you can run a given distance, i.e. 5km at parkrun, a half marathon race, or 1 mile on your own. Last year I ran my local parkrun so fast I thought I might puke.
I joined in with Jantastic for the first time last year and started listening to the Marathon Talk podcast as a result. Both were brilliant. Even though I was religiously following my half marathon training plan, Jantastic added an additional, fun, competitive element to it and the podcasts kept me company on all those cold, long runs.
Oh, and if the promise of all that fun isn’t enough you can also win loads of stuff. Adidas sponsor the Marathon Talk podcast and donates loads of great prizes. Sign up quick – it starts this week!
Get a virtual life coach
I’m not kidding. This is an actual thing. I know because I used one.
Mollie Millington is a personal trainer and life coach, who I encountered in the fitness blogoshpere (or twittersphere – I forget which). She periodically runs a Virtual Training Group (VTG), and you can take part for £10. Members are coached through the goal setting process, to refine their sometimes unachievable or whimsical goals (I want to be healthier, I want to lose weight, I want a better job) into something more achieveable, more tangible and ultimately more motivating (I want to eat 5 fruit/veg a day, I want to lose 5lbs, I want to plan a career change and find funding for training courses).
Her New Year VTG starts today, so it may be too late to get involved this time round, but drop her an email to find out when the next group starts (or if you can sneak into this one…)
I took part in a VTG last summer during my marathon training. The summer was a particularly difficult time for me as I faced some problems both at work and in my personal life, but I used the VTG to focus on maintaining friendships (I tend to hide under a rock when I feel sad) and tackling my irregular sleep pattern. It was great to read other participants email updates and to both offer and receive support achieving goals. I really recommend getting in touch with Mollie if your New Year fitness resolutions are still vague or if you’re just a bit shit at sticking to them.
Keep a running diary
Regular readers know about my running diary because every January I show off about the flippin’ beautiful Google spreadsheet into which I dutifully note each training run, including session structure, distance and time. It calculates my pace, my weekly mileage and my annual mileage. It’s pretty simple as far as spreadsheets go, and it’s not a scratch on my financial spreadsheets, but I have found it an incredibly motivating tool over the years. It’s easy to lose sight of your achievements when you’re in the middle of training, but a running diary allows you to put your training in perspective.
Sore legs? You’ve run 25 miles this week, so no wonder…Tough hill session? Your period is due, so no wonder…
Feeling cranky? You’re due a rest week, so no wonder…
Feeling slow and rubbish? This week’s running diary begs to differ!
Fancy giving it a go? Follow this link and use my spreadsheet. Copy, paste and bastardise to your heart’s content my running friends…
Immerse yourself in the wonderfully mad world of running!
Your friends/partner/work colleagues/neighbours may not share your passion for running, so find some people that are. Try out some running magazines, join a local club, find an informal running group, start a blog, read other people’s, tweet and follow #runchat, instagram your feet in all the places you run to… And follow other people, make new friends, leave comments, say congratulations, ask questions, get advice…
The running community is bigger, friendlier and more supportive than many people realise, so get involved!
A fellow member of my running club is about to launch a new running magazine and I for one am very excited! Like The Wind is a running journal, filled with stories and art inspired by running and created by runners. Simon and the team have been inspired by some of the beautiful leisure magazines on the market, such as Cyclist. It strikes me as being a runner’s version of Boneshaker… And as a fan of both Cyclist and Boneshaker, that’s all fine with me. Pre-order your copy now. Which reminds me, I need to pre-order mine too…
(Simon hasn’t asked me to plug the magazine, by the way. I genuinely think it looks bloody marvelous)