Tips to help you get out the door for your run over Christmas

No one ever feels like going outside for a run but with these tips you might gird your loins

Are you absolutely sure that we asked Santa to bring us this running gear?

Are you absolutely sure that we asked Santa to bring us this running gear?


Q: You cannot be serious that you run in this weather, Grit Doctor! I simply cannot motivate myself to run outdoors right now. I want more grit to get out there but don’t know how. Any tips please?

GET OVER IT Okay, bottom line: no one EVER feels like going outside for a run in the winter. I cannot emphasise enough how crucial it is to get over this first mental barrier. If you are waiting to feel like running, you’ll wait till summer. Or possibly for the rest of your life. Not only are you never going to feel like going for a run during winter, you are always not going to feel like it. The Grit Doctor says: You will never feel like running until afterwards.

GET DRESSED FOR IT I know I won’t feel like it, but I also know I cannot face it unless I’m dressed appropriately. Don’t have any kit? Me neither, so I’ve asked for some stuff from Santa. New kit demands to be worn and is a great incentive to get outside on Christmas Day and in the days between it and the new year. In the meantime, I make do with my all in one black condom-style-hoodie (purchased here over a decade ago and similar to this one but much less fashionable Mizuno/BT-Body-Mapping- Long- Sleeve-Hoody/3XOY). It’s not a good look, but the material claims to regulate my body temperature and wicks away sweat which would otherwise leave me extremely cold. The Grit Doctor says: Choose comfort and warmth over fashion.

When you finally do pluck up the courage to go for that run (despite not feeling like it), it matters how the run goes, because that’s what you will use to get you out the next time. When the run proves to be a success and you didn’t in fact die of hypothermia because you were dressed right, you will feel incredible, with a glow and inner warmth that even a gallon of mulled wine cannot equal. That right there is your winter motivation fuel. It is the memory of that hard won inner glow that you use to get you back out the next time – because you will always feel like feeling like that again – if you get my drift.

GET TO 10 It’s all about making those first 10 minutes bearable. The most vulnerable body bits are the extremities. So, starting from the top:

1. We lose most of our body heat from our heads, so failing to wear a hat when running is fatal at this time of year. Get festive if you fancy. Make sure the hat covers your ears. I wear a beanie hat but any old hat will do. Ear muffs are a step too far for me; they make me feel a tad off balance, plus I can’t hear what is going on around me, which I think is ultra-important as the dark nights close in.

2. Shielding the neck takes winter running comfort into a new dimension. I haven’t got this covered yet, but I am asking Santa for this http://www. arcticblue-reversible-expedition-neckgaitor/or something similar.

3. Layer up (if you don’t have the condom-style hoodie above) with breathable, thin technical fabrics that you can peel off and wrap round your body easily.

4. Legs: I just wear my normal leggings tucked into my socks. Our legs warm up the quickest for the obvious reason that they are in constant motion so no need for extra layers here.

5. Gloves are essential. I have a pair of running gloves which are fine right now but very thin. When it gets uber cold – below freezing – I will wear my thick sheepskins or invest in a winter running pair.

6. Toes require a minimum of two pairs of socks; three when its sheepskin-glove-wearing weather.

7. Ice cleats when it is snowing or has been. Take your pick from here. Earn yourself the title of Grit Fiend of the Year whenever you strap them on. And thank God for every run in which you don’t have to wear them. The Grit Doctor says: If you can get through those first 10 minutes of a brutal winter run, you can get through anything – including the Christmas Day from hell.

GET IT ON Get dressed in the bare bones of this kit on your running days, your tops and leggings, so you are always ready. There is an hour in every day when the weather is bearable. Use that window for your run. Being run-ready means you can just get out the door, grabbing your beanie and gloves (and wrist weights for those grit fiends out there) on your way out (which you always leave by the front door of course) without any fuss. Making this transition from whatever it is you are doing to running as smoothly and wrinkle-free as possible is key because it leaves minimal wriggle room to duck out of it.

If you don’t have the luxury of choosing your time to run, be thankful. Choice in these things is crippling. Be glad you don’t have it. If it happens to be straight after work because you can’t run home (which I highly recommend as a much less gritty alternative), make the turnaround fast by having your kit out and ready to change into.

Also ensure your initial foray into the home environment is extremely uninviting by keeping the central heating off in the front room or wherever it is that your sofa lives. If it’s freezing in there, you will be less keen to create that arse-shaped dent just yet and are more likely to get back outside for your run. Being uber-organised and getting the heating to come on half way through your run so it’s super cosy when you get back and for the rest of the night will be extremely motivating. And bliss when you walk through the door. The Grit Doctor says: Make running a more attractive option by temporarily grittifying the home environment.

GET INTO IT Stuff to think about: Connect with your inner grit doctor, that voice of strict reason. She knows that you know that you need this. I remind myself how much I need this run, how much more stressed, anxious, unable to sleep – and fat – I’ll be if I don’t go. It may not be true, but telling myself these things helps to get me out of the door.

Visualise yourself on the first day of 2017. How do you want to feel and look at the beginning of 2017? Fresh-faced super fit and lean, thank you very much.

Fantasise about when the spring comes and how much of a pleasure those runs will be! Effortless . . .

Rationalise that winter runs are double bubble. Because they take at least twice the effort, you will feel twice as glorious afterwards. Vitamin D deficiency from the lack of daylight hours, seasonal affective disorder, colds, bugs and depressed immune systems are all prevalent at this time of year. Running is a fantastic line of defence against all these winter ailments.

GET A RUNNING BUDDY As you know, I’m a big fan of running solo, but in the winter months I buddy up whenever I can. A freezing run on a Sunday morning with my neighbour is a whole lot more inviting than gritting it out on my own. We have a good natter, which speeds up the warming process, and a warm drink afterwards which has us both feeling tip-top. Because we get so much out of it, we want to do it again. Running with a buddy has the added bonus of keeping you safe.

GET ACCOUNTABLE Entering a race in early 2017or creating a goal such as “I’m going to run three times every week and declaring it on social media”, for example, will help keep you honest. Whether it’s running with a buddy or a complete stranger via an online running community or in a virtual context, it all has the same effect – which is to help strengthen your resolve to get out there. Create accountability structures around your runs wherever you can.

Sign up for some evening races to get into the winter spirit, don a Santa suit and take part in festive runs with your local running community! Having something to work towards or committing to taking part in events is more important than ever over winter and acts as a massive incentive to get out there.

GET GRITTY Motivate yourself by the thought of that mince pie and glass of mulled wine the run has earned you that otherwise might earn pride of place on your expanding waistline. To really enjoy Christmas, the food, the parties, the drinking, there has to be some serious exercise backing it all up. It doesn’t have to be running outdoors, but it does have to be demanding and it does have to be regular, so if you find yourself doing absolutely nothing because your regular runs in fairer weather have gone to pot, rethink your winter sport. Dare I suggest the warm bosom of the gym? Or how about a workout DVD that you can do in your Christmas onesie in front of a fire?

GET ACTIVE – PERIOD It’s not about removing ourselves from the arse-shaped dent in our sofas for a period of 30 minutes frenetic exercise to return to said arse-shaped dent – still warm – for the rest of the day. It’s about building more activity into our days – throughout the day. The more we can move – period – the less we need to worry about missing the odd run or gym session.

All forms of housework count as exercise when you put your back into it. Gardening work, especially digging (even more so if you are cracking through ice), is great for muscle tone; dusting, mopping, polishing, sweeping and ironing can help trim those bingo wings. All that bending and stretching when you make the bed and do the laundry is good for toning thighs and improving flexibility. Running up and down the stairs as you tidy makes for a good aerobic workout to boot. Put that Christmas DVD on and get into it – dance while you wrap presents. Moving at speed around the supermarket and lugging heavy Christmas shopping bags home counts for double. It’s aerobic plus strength training – a ready made HIIT workout that is also getting stuff done.

Get your heart rate up whenever you are able. Wrap up like an Eskimo in all your Christmas clobber and get outside for long walk each day with a friend or loved one. It is a Christmas gift we can all give to ourselves and each other. The Grit Doctor says: Everyone goes out running in good weather. Stand out from the crowd this winter and run fat bitches run. Jingle all the way . . .

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