Guest blog by Jacquie Millett and Camilla Langlands
So you have promised yourself that in 2019 you are going to start running to get fit, lose weight, complete a challenge or perhaps just to try something new. Maybe you were inspired by watching the athletics on television, or the coverage of the London Marathon or just by seeing others out jogging in the local area. You were really determined at the time – probably while sitting at home warm and comfortable. New year, new start – this was definitely going to happen.
But come January the days are short and cold. Perhaps you started well but after the initial enthusiasm wore off you are struggling to keep going – or maybe you didn’t get started at all. Don’t despair – it’s not too late. There is nothing special about January. February is just as good a starting point. Let’s see if we can get you going with some things we have learnt from our own experience of winter running.
Before we start, research has shown that the biggest indicator of whether an individual keeps up a new form of exercise throughout the year is whether they enjoy it or not from the very beginning. So emphasis should be on making running fun.
10 tips for motivating yourself for winter running.
1. Set goals : a long-term goal, possibly an event such as completing a parkrun by the end of March. But you also need short-term achievable goals along the way; something like going out 3 times the first week with a combination of walk / run for a set time. Don’t forget to chart your progress.
2. Start slowly : with a combination of alternating walking and running, gradually increasing the proportion of time running. It will be more enjoyable and you’ll be surprised how quickly you make progress. Most people are put off running because they try to go too fast too soon, and feel uncomfortable and consequently don’t enjoy it. There are lots of beginners’ guides on the internet.
3. Run with others : recruit a friend, or find a running group. If you’ve made an arrangement with someone you are much more likely to keep to it, and it will be more fun. If you can’t find anyone to run with when you plan to go out, make yourself accountable by telling someone that you’re going to do it. If you are a beginner, consider joining RunChiswick (see below)
4. Listen to music : not only on the run; music can be used to create an upbeat, positive mood even before leave house. Consider using bone-conductor head phones for safety, as they allow you to hear traffic and other ambient noise.
5. Keep warm : to help get out of the house on a cold, dark morning, make sure house/room is warm before you leave. Wrap up with plenty of layers; use hand-warmers if you really feel the cold.
6. Keep to a routine : decide when you will run and try to keep it non-negotiable with yourself. For most people mornings work best – then you can spend the rest of the day thinking about what you’ve already achieved.
7. Be aware of negative thinking : talk yourself into the run, not out of it. Think of it as treating your body to something good – look for signs of spring, and think of how good you’ll feel after you’ve completed your run. We both agree we’ve never regretted going out for a run!
8. Watch inspirational videos.
9. Reward yourself for effort : a healthy smoothie to return home to, or a new piece of kit after you’ve achieved one of your targets.
10. Something (anything) is better than nothing. If the idea of running seems too much effort some days, change into your running kit and take yourself out for a walk. You might surprise yourself – once you get out of the door, a lot of the hard work has already been done.
One of our New Year’s resolutions is to set up a free group for people who might not currently have others to run with. If you are a beginner and would like to start running this month, we are setting up a small, friendly running group in conjunction with the Chiswick Calendar. The aim is to train to build up to a 5K run over a period of nine weeks, starting with a gentle walk/run schedule.
We will organise and lead a weekly group run, set up an online forum for discussion and encouragement, and provide advice and guidance along the way. The programme will involve group members doing two further runs a week in their own time – but perhaps some of you will get together to support each other. The final 5k run is planned to be in April at Richmond parkrun. We’re really excited about helping you to achieve your goals!
Note: If you are concerned about any health issues and haven’t exercised for a while, it might be an idea to check with your GP that it’s OK to start running.
Stay safe in dark – don’t run alone in isolated places, and wear bright clothes and lights if necessary.
Jacquie Millett and Camilla Langlands are mother and daughter ultra marathon runners