Image of gym joggers

As summer draws to a close, the weather gets colder therefore it can be harder to have the motivation to exercise. I am more of a cold weather runner myself. I hate getting too hot and having the sun beating down on me also frustrates me. Running in the dark also does grind me down after a while, as I cannot run all of the routes I want to run. That all being said, here are some tips I have found to keep me motivated whilst running in the winter.

Make sure you wear the appropriate gear

Running in winter is going to be a lot easier if you are appropriately dressed in the first place, to help you stop thinking that you are constantly cold. This is the time to dig out the running leggings (I like Gymshark and Adidas), thermal top, gloves, hat and buff.

Keep yourself hydrated

Its easy to think that you don’t need a drink as your body doesn’t feel it needs one as it hasn’t sweated as much… Think again. Make sure you drink as normal otherwise you end up with a headache.

Run with a group or friend

If you are worried about your safety with less people being out and about now that it is getting darker. Join a running group or grab your partner. This helps keep the motivation going when you are thinking about changing your mind on going on that run.

Change the time of your run

If you run usually at the end of the working day (like I do) then if possible run at lunch time where the weather is lighter and warmer.

Swap the outdoors for the gym

If you are worried about safety, hate just being cold or getting nervous about running when the frost hits then swap running for the paths for running on the treadmill. I do have a pass to the Nuffield Gym which I use fairly often. However I tend to use the pass for weights rather than running but I am sure I will become more acquainted with the treadmill once winter roles round.

What are your winter running tips?

Images of the Great North Run and Birmingham Half marathons

I have ran two half marathons now and unlike 5 and 10ks where you can get away with very little to no training you do need to put some effort in for the half marathons. Preparation is key to get you through the 13.1 miles and will make running the distance easier to handle and also to complete safely. This is what I do to prepare.

Practice in the kit you are going to run in

Race day isn’t the day to try a new piece of kit out. Try the new trainers or item of clothing on a training run.

Don’t try new food before race day

Again you don’t want to make yourself ill by trying to eat something new on or the day before race day. Test your energy gels or food on the day and don’t try a new meal the night before just eat bland food.

Run at least eight miles comfortably

Six miles was an easy run for me as I aimed to run that distance in most runs I did as a minimum and that massively helped my frame of mind when I couldn’t run two weeks before the Great North Run due to illness. I had also done one run that was eight miles long and knew that 13.1 was achievable. You do need to do the training beforehand.

Make sure you keep yourself hydrated during the run

I learnt the hard way whilst running the Manchester 10k how if you don’t keep yourself hydrated you can easily make yourself ill. I had a large headache by the end because I didn’t stop and drink at all of the hydration stations. Make sure you drink even if it is just a tiny bit at each hydration station.

Memorise the route

I always look at the map of the route beforehand and pick out some key points. This means on the way round I know roughly how long I have left.

Turn up early

It is not fun to start a race late or even worse finding that the baggage bus has already gone by the time you are putting your bags in (I saw plenty of people running for the moving baggage buses at the Great North Run). Arrive early and it will help with the stress.

Pack the night before

Or if it is a day trip out make sure your kit and nutrition is ready the night before. Again it avoids the stress of finding clothes in the morning or finding out that the shorts you were going to wear are in the wash.

Bring some support

It was lovely to have my Mum there for my first half marathon. Having friends or family there make it a bit easier (plus they can help you out at the end!).

Cross-train

When my right knee was niggling a few months back I completely stopped running and took up swimming instead. It gave my knee the rest it needed but still kept me active. I also did weight training. It all helps.

What do you do to prepare before race day?

Image of Rebecca and James with their running medals

It is the Wednesday of race week. I had a ten hour sleep the night before and for the past two weeks I have been feeling rough and have not ran at all. I have been running consistently however the longest run I have done is eight miles two miles short of the ten I wanted to be at, at this stage. I am unsure if I will be fit enough to run or not. I entered the ballot back in January so have been waiting all year and don’t want to miss out.

I decide on the Friday, after feeling much better, that I will least start the race, I have done enough runs in the Great Run series that I know I can pull out at any point. I will also walk part of the run if I need too. Race Day- after spending the Saturday travelling up to Darlington via York where we met James’ friend for a drink (non-alcoholic for us!) we got the train from Darlington to Newcastle in the morning to meet my Uncle beforehand and run the race.

The Great North Run is the flag ship of the Great Run series. Having participated in Great Runs in Manchester and Birmingham, I had my eyes on the Great North Run for a while. Having always seen it on the telly the 13.1 mile route starts in Newcastle and finishes in South Shields with the best part running through the Tyne Bridge. It is the largest and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the most popular half marathon in the world, I mean how many half marathons have the Red Arrows fly over! So many people enter it has to go through a ballot.

Race Day. Very early start for myself and James, we drove to Darlington train station and got the first train out. The train was busy with people for the Great North Run and the atmosphere was really good with everyone in high spirits. Just the little things like the conductor wishing us a lovely day was great.

After meeting my Uncle (who lives in Newcastle) we made our way to the start line. Like every Great Run the race is split up into groups. I was in the green group which was the second from the back (I used to be in the pink group which is the back group so I have made process!). It took about thirty minutes before we even got through the start line. The route is fairly flat not like Birmingham where there are some hills (especially the uphill finish). The Tyne Bridge is quite early on but the end of the route in South Shields over looking the North Sea. I live in the West Midlands so I don’t live near the beach and don’t go to the beach often at all, so a finish alongside the beach is a treat for me.

Image of Rebecca and James at the start of the Great North run

What did I think of the run?

I loved the Great North Run and it was my favourite race in so many ways. The crowds giving out free sweets, water and juice slices or just cheering us on. As the route isn’t a loop, I hadn’t planned transport for the way back however there were constant buses taking us back to Newcastle city centre. The bus back isn’t free and cost I think about £3.00 for each person, so make sure you bring money with you. It is worth factoring that time in as it took us about forty minutes to get back. The route is great, it isn’t taxing, no hills really.The Great North Run isn’t the run if you are looking to get a personal best, there were times where I wanted to run but couldn’t as everyone was just walking. The Tyne Bridge is a big part of the route and as it is quite early on, it does feel a bit, oh thats it now… but seeing the Red Arrows as I was running was a real treat.

image of a pair of trainers on top of a sports vest

I do enjoy fitness but like everyone I go through stages where to be honest I am sick of working out. With a little over a month to go until the Great North Run it is crucial that I keep my preparation and motivation going. Today I am sharing my tips for keeping the motivation going when you feel like giving up.

Think about the end goal

For me being motivated to finish the week or thinking about the finish line of a race reminds me why all the running and time spent at the gym will be worth it. People so often see the finish product but not the times when you were running and got caught out in the rain or donning the thermals because it was freezing outside.

Set mini goals inbetween

I still remember really well wanting a Pure Gym water bottle when I first started working out there. I decided until I had gone to the gym five times I wouldn’t buy myself one. Buying pieces of kit or something else I find keeps the motivation and persistence going. Funnily enough I don’t buy that much kit my last piece of fitness kit I did buy was two pairs of shorts from My Protein and that was because I didn’t have enough pairs in the first place. Certainly do not buy new kit at the beginning of starting a new sport unless you absolutely need it. You hear so many stories of people forking out hundreds for new kit and then not using it.

Switch it up a bit

Sometimes just listening to a new playlist or going cycling instead of running keeps you away from the couch and motivated to finish the workout.

Plan your workouts

For me just seeing what I want to workout on paper, makes me more likely to complete the workout so I can tick it off.

Get your gym bag or clothes prepared

By having your gym stuff laid out or in a bag in the car ready makes you less likely to give up on going out because you cannot find your stuff.

What do you do to keep yourself motivated?

Wolf Run shirt

So I completed the Summer Wolf Run in Stanford Hall, Leicester this weekend which was tricky but good! The Wolf Run (Wolf stands for Woods, Obstacles, Lakes and Fields) is a running event which is 10k filled with wading through mud, crawling through trees, swimming through water, and climbing over obstacles and running! There is the opportunity to bring your family members to watch and there are loads of food stalls to get your burger and pint after the race and amusements to keep the kids entertained! To enter in the Wolf Run, you sign up online and collect your race number on the day once you have handed in your disclaimer form. There is a key drop for your car keys and a bag drop for those that travelled by public transport. If you complete each Wolf Run (Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter) then you get the Alpha Wolf Medal and shirt. Once you have completed the Wolf Run, you receive a goody bag consisting of a Wolf Run shirt, water bottle and a Cliff bar snack before you run off to the shower facilities to get the worse of the mud off!

The obstacles

I cannot remember all of them but here is a list of what to expect if you run one:

  • Crawling through overgrowth
  • Climbing obstacles ranging from climbing walls to the climbing nets.
  • Mud swamps (lots of them)
  • Swimming in open water and a lake
  • Wading through ditches
  • Climbing over tyres
  • Crawling through a tube

The training and my Wolf Run experience

I hadn’t trained much beforehand because my knee was so sore, so running was swapped for swimming. I could tell there was something up with my knee because I could feel it clicking loads in the pool! As I am not a strong swimmer, the swimming did not replace the running like for like in terms of fitness. And my god I could tell that I had lost some of that fitness.

Regarding my experience of the Wolf Run, I have literally no upper arm strength and that is where I struggled as there was a lot of wading through mud swamps and oh my god that mud was horrendous. Everyone was getting stuck, it felt like quicksand, I literally had guys pulling me up onto the log. At one point I nearly fainted I think it was just with all of the adrenaline and maybe the shock of being stuck in the mud for so long threw me a bit. After walking 2k and missing a couple of obstacles for my own safety and so I could gain some strength back I was off again. I did miss the two swimming ones just because I am a weak swimmer and I didn’t want to put myself or anyone else that would have to rescue me in danger. The race was well thought out with obstacles spaced out evenly giving you the chance to recover from a few of the tougher obstacles. The obstacles were various levels of challenging with the chance to run round if you didn’t feel up to it.

So what did I learn from completing the Wolf Run?

  • For gawddd sake don’t take any valuables. It was a last minute thing for me to take of my engagement ring and I am glad I did as that would have been long gone in the mud.
  • Running and obstacle running are two different things. Obstacle running requires a lot of upper arm strength, something I didn’t really think about until I was actually running the course. I would recommend putting in some upper strength training before the run.
  • I don’t think it is a beginners or a fun run like Pretty Muddy (but it isn’t timed so you can take your time). Personally I would get some fitness in as it will help you in the long run.
  • Wear old clothes, yes the mud did wash off after putting on the washing machine TWICE but since you will be crawling through trees.

Have you done a Wolf Run?

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