I love running through the fall, but when the holidays hit, my motivation to log miles drops. What can I do to inspire myself to run throughout the holidays?
The holidays are a busy time between work, family, shopping, and parties. It is easy to understand why many people struggle to keep up a consistent routine. Here are six strategies to keep you motivated this year:
1) Set microgoals
Break your season up into individual weeks, and every Sunday or Monday, set a realistic workout goal for the next seven days based on what is going on in your life. In the Holiday Challenge, we do this by posting a target number of workout miles or minutes we think we can achieve. Some weeks allow for more activity than others, but the key is in maintaining your momentum by starting with a clean slate each week, tailoring your goals to what is possible, and working with the flow of your life.
2) Be accountable
Once you set your weekly goal, you’re more likely to keep it if you create a source of accountability. That could mean publicly stating your weekly workout goal on social media, posting it at your desk at work or on the fridge, or connecting with a buddy. Create a way you can both keep track of your progress and be accountable to your goals.
3) Get social
If you do better when running or working out with others, commit to a class, run with a group once a week, or invite a buddy on a weekly holiday series of runs. If you don’t have access to live social groups, use apps like Strava to connect to active runners online. Running with others can be a source of accountability as well as an inspiration to run longer and harder.
4) Mix it up
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. The same is true for your running routine. This is a great time of year to mix things up: Add a class, cross-train, or change up your runs. By performing workouts your body isn’t used to, you’ll burn more calories and develop new skills and neural pathways.
5) Aim for shorter, higher intensity workouts
One fun way to maintain your fitness and mojo is to cut the number of workouts per week, shorten the time, and push harder with a high-intensity interval workout. One study showed that 2.5 hours of sprint interval training per week produced similar biomechanical muscle changes to 10.5 hours of endurance training with similar endurance performance benefits. By sprinkling in one or two short, hard efforts per week, you can maintain your fitness during a busy time of year, boost your metabolism, and add a sense of fun to keep things fresh. Read more about the perfect holiday workout here.
6) Break the hibernation
If you live in the northern part of the country, wintry weather can make it tempting to stay indoors. Although the treadmill is a convenient tool for truly miserable days, getting outside for a sunshine-filled run can boost your mood and break the feelings of isolation. Plus, there’s nothing like getting in a harder effort run in the cool weather. Try this winter workout. All you need is a short segment of plowed road.
You’ll be surprised at just how little you need to change to maintain your motivation to move. The key is to set yourself up for success with short-term goals and keep things fresh. Happy holidays.
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Author: Jenny Hadfield is the co-author of the popular Running for Mortals and Marathoning for Mortals book series and has written for numerous magazines including Health, Cooking Light, Outside, and Women’s Running. She is a certified personal trainer and coach and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Education and Health Promotion and a Masters Degree in Exercise Science.