How to Cure the Winter Blues and Stay Motivated

I just want to run.

When I'm at work I'm thinking about where I'm going to run. When I'm out running, I'm often planning future runs in my head. I have, on numerous occasions, chosen my vacation destinations based entirely on it's proximity to trails.

Sometimes though, I lack total motivation to run—or to do anything for that matter. It's as if one day my mind and body figuratively—and literally—put their feet down and just decide that, "Nope. You're going to sit and watch trashy reality television for the evening."

On average, I'd say I concede to this "advice" about 20 percent of the time. The other 80 percent, I manage to distract those two menaces long enough to throw my shoes on and sneak out the door before they realize I'm off and running.  

Despite best intentions, the winter months can drain motivation, but there is a way to cure the winter blues and stick to a fitness routine.

More: 4 Nutrition Tips to Maintain a Healthy & Active Life

The Winter Blues

The short and cold days often leave me standing in my house, looking out of the sliding back door at the grey sky, wondering if I really need to go for a run today.
I've used all the usual excuses: "It's so cold! And it's going to get dark soon," or "That snow isn't safe to run in. You'll slip and break your leg."

Better still is when I busy myself around the house until it is already dark outside. "What? How did that happen. I really shouldn't go out now. It's just not safe!"

What it boils down to is that my body is just comfortable in my warm and cozy house. My body would much rather sit curled up on the couch, reading a nice book while drinking a hot cup of overly sweetened tea. The days when these excuses crop up, I have to remind myself that I'll feel better after my run. I can postpone my complete and utter relaxation session until I've finished my work out. It's not that I think I don't deserve a break, but rather my body needs an extra nudge in the right, sometimes less comfortable, direction.

More: How to Prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder

Break Free From the Comfort Zone

This idea of crossing the line from easy to difficult or comfortable to uncomfortable isn't just applicable to running either. If I never broke out of my comfort zone, I'd be living with my parents, riding a bike with training wheels around the driveway, eating cookie dough on an hourly basis, and reading My Little Pony books.

But, I did break out of that zone, and I still continue to do so.

Getting out and doing something that makes you a bit uncomfortable is the perfect way to not only spark new interests, but also to boost your confidence. Forcing yourself to do something you don't exactly want to do is a way to strengthen your mind's motivational muscle. The more you override your desire to be complacent, the more often you'll continue to do so.

More: 5 Reasons to Keep a Fitness Journal

A Winter-Time Workout

Each morning, I wake up at 5 a.m. to go for a 45-minute walk. The first 10 seconds after my alarm goes off, I lay there and think, "Really? This again? I'm going to leave my down comforter to walk in the cold."

By the time I've finished that thought, I've already risen out of bed, and am beginning to search for my warm walking clothes. I believe that at 5 a.m. I should be nowhere else other than my bed, which is exactly why I am not. I want nothing to do with that stupid, cold and dark walk, but I do it anyway.  It builds my motivation muscle.

I have a love-hate relationship with my morning walk. When the walk is over, I'm back in my house and I'm glad I went.

More: How to Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Active logoStay in shape in a fitness class

About the Author

Discuss This Article

Follow your passions

Connect with ACTIVE.COM