Stay Motivated with Winter Running Goals

Winter isn’t most runners’ favorite season, but it does have some things going for it that the others don’t—like less chance of overheating, fewer other people out and about, and more calm and quiet. “I actually enjoy running in the winter more,” says Laura Carey, a local year-round runner. “Once spring hits and runners are back out I’m like, ‘Wait a second, this is my road,’” she says with a laugh.

It may be cold, but that comes with its own beauty. “It’s so much more peaceful. If there’s snow on the ground, there’s just that kind of quietness to it all,” Carey says. Timing-wise, winter is an ideal season to maintain or add on mileage before warmer weather arrives and the more official racing season starts. “I think winter running is a really great time to get that base built up, so once the snow is gone, you’re ready,” Carey says.

If you need some extra motivation as the days get colder and shorter, though, making some running-related commitments can help you persevere—maybe even thrive—through the chilliest months of the year.


Commit To a Mileage Goal or Run Streak

Setting and attempting to meet a mileage goal—10 per week, 100 per month, etc.—can be enough of an incentive to get you out the door when the weather’s less than appealing. Apps like Strava make it easy to compare routes, paces, and total mileage with other runners (real-life friends or virtual ones) if you want a more “official” way to evaluate against your—hopefully friendly—competition. Similarly motivating is committing to a “run streak” to keep you going through the off season. A run streak might mean aiming, for instance, to run a mile or more every day from Thanksgiving through New Year’s. Check out the group Runner’s World Run Streak on Facebook or the hashtag #runstreak on social media for ideas.


Register for a Winter or Spring Race

If you need a more concrete goal, forcing the issue often helps. Sign up for a winter or spring race of your desired distance. There are plenty of local options, enough that you could run a race just about every month, Carey points out. One possible lineup is the Turkey Trot at Manito Park on Thanksgiving morning, the Jingle Bell Run downtown in early December, the Partners in Pain 5K in February, the St. Paddy’s Day 5 miler in March, and one of the Negative Split distances in early April (5K, 10K, or half marathon).

It can be equally motivating to set a big goal and/or register for a race somewhere warm so you can look forward to a run in the sun. That’s the plan for Carey, who, along with a friend, signed up for a marathon in Hawaii in March. She says she’ll move some runs to the treadmill at the YMCA if and when conditions are icy.


Make a Date You Won’t Want to Break

It’s a fact: it’s a lot easier to break a promise to yourself than it is to break a promise to someone else. Same goes with a running plan. Whether you set a weekly date with a friend for an early jog along the river, join a running group (try the Lantern Run Club, Flying Irish, Spokane Swifts, or Fleet Feet’s Winter Warriors), you’ll be more likely to get out there when there’s someone else who cares whether you show up. //


Sarah Hauge lives in Spokane with her husband and two daughters, and hopes they’ll be onboard with her plan to attempt a Thanksgiving through New Year’s run streak this winter. She wrote profiles of local skiers and snowboarders for the November issue.


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