Keep at it

Jill Barker
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Running tips to stay motivated during slow times

Count me among those who are fed up with winter. Don't get me wrong, a little cold weather isn't enough to get me down. After all, I've got all the right gear: Capilene long underwear, thermal leggings, a runner's balaclava, windproof mitts and three different running jackets. Nah, the problem this winter has been the footing.

I've climbed mound after mound of snow abandoned on the sidewalk, waded through ankle-deep slush, splashed down in puddles the size of small lakes, slipped on hidden ice and slogged along snow-clogged sidewalks that were no wider than a goat path, all while trying to get some fresh air and exercise in the middle of a Canadian winter.

This jogger didnt have much company as he made his way through the drifting snow along Lake St. Louis in the Dorval area of Montreal recently. Photo by John Kenney/Montreal Gazette

Montreal - Count me among those who are fed up with winter. Don't get me wrong, a little cold weather isn't enough to get me down. After all, I've got all the right gear: Capilene long underwear, thermal leggings, a runner's balaclava, windproof mitts and three different running jackets. Nah, the problem this winter has been the footing.

I've climbed mound after mound of snow abandoned on the sidewalk, waded through ankle-deep slush, splashed down in puddles the size of small lakes, slipped on hidden ice and slogged along snow-clogged sidewalks that were no wider than a goat path, all while trying to get some fresh air and exercise in the middle of a Canadian winter.

So difficult has it been to stay upright and dry, I've totally lost the Zen of running. It's impossible to get in tune with my inner self when my outer self is having to watch every footfall for fear that one wrong step will land me on my butt - again.

Here are some ideas to put the fun back in your runs, even though it might be weeks before you can put away your winter running gear and say hello to bare sidewalks.

Find a running buddy

Can't find it within yourself to pull on those thermal tights yet again?

Call up a friend, neighbour or colleague and make plans to commiserate about our never-ending winter together - while on the run. Misery loves company, and if company is what it takes to get you out and doing your thing, then pick up the phone.

Kick it into high gear

I'm fortunate to be within spitting distance of an indoor track and a mess of treadmills, so when the weather is really rotten I can run indoors. The trouble is, I find the indoors boring. No scenery. No fresh air. So I've had to come up with a couple of tried-and-true indoor workouts that beat the boredom of circling a track or mindlessly counting the calories I'm burning on the treadmill. And, since it's hard to pick up the pace during the winter months, these indoor runs remind your legs how to kick it into gear.

Since these are speed workouts, limit them to once or twice a week.

On the track, warm up at an easy pace for 10 minutes. Then pick it up to about 80 to 85 per cent of your maximum effort for two laps, followed by three easy laps at 60 per cent of your maximum effort. Repeat five times and you've covered five kilometres (on a 200-metre track), not counting your warm-up. Cool down for 10 minutes of easy running.

On the treadmill, warm up for five minutes running at about 60 per cent of your maximum effort with the incline set at one. Then increase your speed one increment every minute for 10 minutes. Follow with another increase of one increment every two minutes for another 10 minutes. Reduce the speed back to 60 per cent of your maximum effort and cool down for five minutes.

Look in new places for motivation

Nothing boosts my motivation more than reading an issue of Runner's World.

Not only are the running tips useful, the feature articles on runners of all ages and abilities make you want to pull on your shoes and head outside no matter what the weather.

Still need more inspiration? Rent a couple of great running movies. "Saint Ralph," "Chariots of Fire," "Prefontaine" and "Without Limits" (also about legendary U.S. runner Steve Prefontaine) will get you pumped.

Sign up for a race

Nothing gives your running more purpose than getting in shape for an upcoming race. The racing season generally begins in May, but there are always a few races in the month of April.

Check out www.eventsonline.ca for a calendar of upcoming races. Then pull on your running shoes and get going. After all, what's a little slush when you are in the middle of training for your next personal best?

Geographic location: Montreal, U.S.

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Recent comments

  • Cheryl
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    Another reason why I love living on Vancouver Island. You can run 365 days/year outside and enjoy the sea air.

  • Cheryl
    July 01, 2010 - 19:51

    Another reason why I love living on Vancouver Island. You can run 365 days/year outside and enjoy the sea air.