How does a comfort loving wimp toughen up? Winter exercise edition.
January 11, 2016 7:17 AM   Subscribe

I want to exercise in winter but my body doesn't. Can you recommend motivation tactics and gear to make it easier? Also- what are valid reasons to skip exercise?

I realize how ridiculous this sounds, but I have a very low tolerance bar for discomfort, which makes it really difficult for me to exercise regularly. I hate sweating, I hate pushing through pain, I hate being sticky. I hate stepping into puddles by accident and having to run with wet feet.

Yet I have pushed through, and I have been out running almost everyday for a couple of months. And now winter is here. It's dark, cold, scary, and makes my skin itch like crazy.

Do you have any motivation techniques you can recommend?

What gear do you have that makes the whole process more bearable?

Is there anything I can do about horribly itchy winter skin?

Also, if you could help me get some perspective, that would be great. I tend to skip exercise for silly reasons (right now I have a cold and haven't run in 4 days. Another time recently I ran for two blocks, got scared when I saw a random guy walking in the dark and directly went home in fear). For those who are serious about running: what is a good reason to skip exercise? A cold? Horrible weather?
posted by Tarumba to Health & Fitness (26 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Itchy skin- Moisturizer.. I find that every two or three days of moisturizing in the winter seems to take care of this... I just use a mid range price aloe type of lotion.

Gear.. I don't run, but I walk the dog twice a day (1-2 miles each time).. Temp right now is 9 degrees, wind chill was about -4 this AM.. the key for me is layers (sweatshirt/fleece/windbreaker), ski gloves, scarf, stocking cap (or a Stormy Kromer) cap.

Here where it's icy in the winter, I also use Yaktrax (they make a runner's style), these have saved me from many a fall! I won't walk ice without them now.

Also, most communities have an indoor track available (local recreation center/high school?)...
posted by HuronBob at 7:27 AM on January 11, 2016

I skip exercise when I'm sick or injured. That's it. Those are my only valid reasons.
posted by Sassyfras at 7:27 AM on January 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

What gear do you have that makes the whole process more bearable?

Reflective clothing (or putting reflective tape on clothes you have). If it's really dark, some people like a little LED light, either for visibility or for illuminating the path in front of you. I like running with music, a podcast, or an audiobook, but if you're running alone in the dark you might leave one earbud out so you can hear what's going on around you.

The best 'gear' you can get is a running partner, although that's not always so easy to find. You might try finding an existing running group in your area that matches your distance and pace.

Is there anything I can do about horribly itchy winter skin?

Find a lotion or moisturizer you like. Body Glide or similar can help with specific spots that chafe or chap.

what is a good reason to skip exercise?

Anything that risks a longer-term interruption in your routine: pain, injury, and illness are all good reasons. Bad weather in itself isn't necessarily a problem, but if cold means getting frost nip (or worse) or if rain means getting blisters from wet feet, then it's better to miss one day than be out for a week or more.
posted by jedicus at 7:31 AM on January 11, 2016

Beyond layers, one thing that works as gear AND motivation for me are hand warmers: they are not free (tho they're not prohibitively expensive, either), so by the time I shake them and give them 20 min. to warm up, I've psyched myself into getting outside.

The other thing that I've found is that the more I do it, the more badass I feel and, thus, the easier it is to convince me that this day's particular discomfort is only a blip and I can totally handle it.

In terms of what MY threshhold for skipping a day of running outside, for me it's a combo of cold and windchill. So if there's a frostbite warning (-10 plus wind), I'll workout inside.
posted by correcaminos at 7:36 AM on January 11, 2016

I generally don't run in rain, or if there's snow/ice on the ground, and I prefer not to run in the dark if at all possible - especially not if I'm alone. I mean, yeah, there are things you can get to make these things easier/safer/more comfortable, but I still find it unpleasant. So I either run on the treadmill or find an alternate workout I can do indoors.

And it's not silly to skip exercise if you're feeling sick, even if it's "just" a cold. It's sort of a guessing game, but you get better at it as you go. If I think physical exertion will prolong my recovery, or if I'm feeling weak enough that I'm having trouble doing my regular getting around, then it's better for me to skip.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:39 AM on January 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

Here's the "perspective" part of the conversation. It sounds like you've already done an awesome job pushing through the discomfort of starting a consistent exercise routine. For most people, that is by far the hardest, most uncomfortable part--maintaining an existing routine is way easier than starting over. So what I try to tell myself is that I'm just trading the temporary discomfort of running in less than ideal conditions for the much longer term discomfort of having to start over with way less fitness.
posted by mjcon at 7:43 AM on January 11, 2016 [3 favorites]

Valid reasons:

If you can't breathe in and out completely or breathing hurts. I will sometimes go at the tail end of a cold with no fever and no chest involvement; it's up to you what your line is. If you're likely to vomit. If you have joint or back pain (and it's either new joint pain or you know that exercise makes it worse.) If you have another medical condition, and exercise starts making it worse, stop and go home-- you did your best. Basically, if you would send a kid home from school because they were miserable or contagious, you should also stay home.

If you don't have enough time to realistically exercise and also make it to work or take care of some other responsibility-- you're not allowed to be late to work, pick up kids, etc. When it;s something optional you're missing, it's up to you, but you have to recognize that it is your choice to watch the show or whatever and not exercise on that day in particular, and own that choice (you'll feel better about the days you do or don't exercise if you frame it as what you chose to do based on the circumstances.)

If you're too tired or impaired to be safe; you need to be able to notice what's around you and react quickly. If the scary guy had started following you or harassing you, I would have said go back home, but if he's minding his own business, I would keep jogging past (evaluate your instincts honestly; sometimes you really should listen to them and turn around. It's good to have backup exercise ideas like jumping rope or pushups that you can do instead.) If you have an unnamed feeling of dread or anxiety/depression that you're pretty sure is irrational happening, you should err on the side of exercising.

If conditions are unsafe: if it's raining to hard to see properly, if it's too slippery and you're not 100% confident you can mitigate that with gear or technique; if you're unable to bundle up for some reason. Getting dirty is not a reason, but the potential for permanent damage to your body is a reason.
posted by blnkfrnk at 7:48 AM on January 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

Treadmill! (Or exercise bike, etc). For sticking with it, use basic habit-forming advice- a visual reminder (leave workout clothes out where you'll see them at the time you need to use them, etc), go at a regular time so it becomes a routine, give yourself a little reward of some kind afterward (netflix time, whatever), use social pressure to your advantage (get a workout partner, or someone for accountability).
posted by three_red_balloons at 7:54 AM on January 11, 2016

For running in the dark: A headlamp and/or be-seen lights and reflective gear, depending on how dark and how trafficked your route is. For personal safety concerns, carry whatever self-defense stuff makes you feel safer. Consider finding a route with a lot more pedestrian traffic.

For cold: dress appropriately. There are lots of charts you can check for suggestions but the best way to figure out your perfect situation is to just pay attention and adjust with every run. Moisture-wicking fabrics are a must. A wind shell is helpful in the right weather. Layers obvs, hats, gloves, quarter- and half-zips so you can adjust as you go. Switch to tights if you haven't already, they make running in the cold so much more pleasant. WOOL SOCKS if there is any chance at all of your feet getting wet; they'll still be wet but at least they won't be cold. For extreme cold (my cutoff for this is below 10F) or if it's actually snowing/sleeting I break out heavy-duty technical fabrics, plus mittens are warmer than gloves and I have to wear something on my face or breathing such cold air hurts. I tend to just use a layer like a Buff, but a purpose-built face mask is fine, too.

For ground conditions: I find that last season's trail shoes are great for moderately icy/slushy conditions, especially here in Colorado where the snow/melt/refreeze cycle is super quick and my path might be 50/50 clear asphalt and glass-smooth ice. I have a couple pairs of yaktrax-type aids but I tend to find them awful on clear ground and only moderately helpful on ice; trail shoes are better at both. I have a pair of screw shows for running on a lot of ice, too. Shorten your stride and SLOW DOWN in bad conditions - it doesn't have to be a lot but think about keeping your feet under you in slippery weather. Avoid putting your heel down first on downhill slopes. deep snow is fun to run a for a few steps but it's a LOT more work than running on clear ground; adjust your workout accordingly.

All that said, I tend to be willing to run outside in two of the three; that is, I'm fine with dark and very cold, or very cold and icy, or dark and icy—I won't go out if it's all three. The way I see it, each one is a significant safety and comfort issue that requires gear and technique to overcome; at all three for me it's too inconvenient and the cumulative safety effect is too great. That DOESNT mean I skip exercise, though - I don't belong to a gym so I go run on a friend's treadmill if I can get there, or do HIIT intervals at home, or bundle up and go on a snowshoe walk, etc.

My biggest motivation to keep getting out in the winter has nothing to do with race season or weight loss or even fitness, really—it's that I feel like crap if I just hibernate (which I'll quite happily do if I don't force myself to get out). Like, I get depressed/anxious/cabin feverish. Sometimes I have to drag myself out the door, but I think of it as a solid I'm doing for future me.
posted by peachfuzz at 8:17 AM on January 11, 2016

I have a gym membership so that I can do cardio-ish activities inside when it's cold or dark or rainy. I hate treadmills SO MUCH, and exercise bikes aren't my thing, but I like the elliptical. For me it really helps to listen to a podcast while I'm on the elliptical, especially a podcast that lasts about as long as I'll be exercising (like an hour.)

Also, some gyms have hot tubs, which are nice motivation when it's cold out.
posted by needs more cowbell at 8:40 AM on January 11, 2016 [4 favorites]

I am definitely the same way, except the things that make me wimp out change constantly, and the ONLY reason I've been able to keep up anything resembling a routine is access to an indoor gym. Treadmills are the most direly boring thing out there, even with entertainment, but I am generally able to drag myself to the gym to complete a treadmill run after I have ruled out the outdoors because it is dark/scary/icy/windy/hot/rainy/whatever.

That being said, I know it's also good to teach yourself to run in Weather in case you have a race that's less than optimal, so I will say that the things that have most enhanced my outdoors experience in gross winter weather are: gloves with a touchscreen-responsive finger made of thin, absorbent material; a Buff to suck up a SHOCKING amount of head-sweat and keep my ears warm, a visor for when it's precipitating or obnoxiously sunny, a blinking waistband and handheld whistle/flashlight for safety, layered absorbent clothing, and just plain telling someone exactly where I plan to go and when I plan to get back.
posted by bowtiesarecool at 9:14 AM on January 11, 2016

A lot of good advice on the gear, etc. so I am going to just add re: itchy skin. I recommend after every shower/bath, slather lotion on all over - arms, shoulders, neck, chest, legs, bum, feet, heels - as soon as you towel dry. Really work it in. Do this all year round, not just cold, dry months. For this, I just use the original Aveeno. I've been doing this regularly for a few years now and my skin feels much better when air is dryer.

An added bonus to really working in the lotion is that when I shower after working out, applying the lotion like this becomes a nice little massage for any sore/tight spots (calves, hamstrings..)
posted by foxhat10 at 9:22 AM on January 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

Ok, and one thing I will add about working out and cold weather - if it's just too darn cold or rainy, I have some 12 lb weights and a yoga mat that I turn to. I weight train regularly anyway, but an additional workout inside with this never hurts! I'll do squats, lunges, etc. and sit-ups, push-ups, planks, etc. So at least if I'm not getting a run in, I'm doing some sort of workout :)
posted by foxhat10 at 9:26 AM on January 11, 2016

Here's some of my favourite gear for cold weather running:

Asics winter half-zip top. It's really well made, warm, and has long sleeves. I can't see it on the Asics US site, so it may be a Europe thing. Pop along to your local running shop and buy a slightly thick top that you can layer as necessary for the weather.
Nike tights. Tights make running bearable until around 2°C. I have Nike and Asics tights and the Nike are well made. Under freezing, layer with long johns.
Merino socks. I have a few pairs by Helly Hansen that I love. I never get cold toes.
Helly Hansen's Lifa base layers. Pretty much anyone who does winter sports uses their Dry Lifa long sleeve tops. You can get the HH Warm too for extreme cold. They last forever and are great for layering.
HH Lifa hat. It's a very thin hat that keeps the cold off and doesn't get wet.

I have some full leg compression underwear (probably Sub Sports or Under Armor) for when the weather is really cold.

For motivation: other people. If you can't find anyone to run with, schedule a class in the gym and pay upfront. If you have more spare money, get a trainer and do weights until the weather gets nicer again. When you get back to running you'll find that the weights (or classes) have improved your overall fitness.

You don't need to be told that there's no excuse to not go, barring sickness or injury. You already know that. Even so, the best way to succeed is to make training so automatic that you don't have to think about it. A schedule or outside influence (friends, classes, a trainer) will give you the push.
posted by nevan at 9:28 AM on January 11, 2016

Get yourself checked for exercise induced asthma. A generalized feeling of "I hate this" could be shortness of breath, especially if you were an indifferent athlete as a kid and your parents smoked, or if you used to swim in chlorinated pools. With long term exercise induced asthma you get so used to not being able to draw in more oxygen that you may not experience it as shortness of breath, as opposed to the feeling, "I want to stop now."

Try changing your body mechanics as you run. Make sure to limber up first and then lean slightly forward as if you are chasing someone just out of your reach. Adults often try to run while standing upright which is not the natural running position for a lot of us.

Make sure your blood sugar is optimal before you start to run by having a small protein snack about ten or fifteen minutes before, such as cheese or nuts.

Use a humidifier indoors as long as the heating is on, and use it lavishly, perhaps getting more than one. Dry winter skin is due to dry winter air. Fix your air, not your skin.
posted by Jane the Brown at 9:31 AM on January 11, 2016

I just started running a few months ago and have been surprised at my tolerance for running in the cold and dark. Part of it is this:

The other thing that I've found is that the more I do it, the more badass I feel

But winter running may not be as bad as you think either. The first few minutes suck sometimes, but then I warm up and am perfectly comfortable temperature-wise. I don't have a ton of gear yet, but one thing I love is this earband. It is super comfortable and very warm. I find a hat is often too warm, even in near or below freezing temps, but the earband allows the top of my head to breathe and is perfect - plus it helps keep my earbuds from falling out.

If you're like me, you'll need to carry tissues because your nose will run frequently. You get used to it. This is a good article from Runner's World about whether to run when sick. I've had a mild cold since Saturday and have been running since I have only above-the-neck symptoms.

I am not a morning person, and getting out of bed extra early to run in the cold can be pretty awful, but (1) getting my run out of the way first thing in the morning means there's less chance I'll skip it, and (2) it's so peaceful at that time that I've come to enjoy it once I'm out there and past the first half-mile or so.

I haven't run on a treadmill at all this winter and probably won't unless it's snowy or icy. I don't run in heavy rain or single-digit temps, but I hate running indoors so much that I usually look ahead at the forecast and rearrange my schedule if needed to make outdoor runs possible (an evening run instead of morning, swapping days since I don't run every day).
posted by treachery, faith, and the great river at 9:31 AM on January 11, 2016

You don't HAVE to exercise outside. If it's horrible out there, skip it and do an exercise video indoors or go to the gym. I hate treadmills so I stick to aerobics etc if I can't exercise outdoors. I've also just bought a Turbo Trainer so I can cycle indoors! Exercise is supposed to be tough, but you are still meant to be getting some enjoyment out of it, and there is no law that says you HAVE to put yourself through exercise you don't want to do.

Re your question about skipping exercise, I try to downgrade rather than skip - so if I'm not feeling 100% or there's a monsoon out there it's a short, slow run instead of a harder one. Or more indoor aerobics! I also rejig my schedule according to the weather forecast, so I don't have to do long runs in the rain.
posted by intensitymultiply at 9:33 AM on January 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

For motivation, I find it easiest to stop considering it to be a choice. You're a runner. Are you 1) injured, or suspect an injury? If no; 2) Do you have time today to run? 3) Is it safe to run right now? If all three of those are yes, then you run. It doesn't matter if you're going to freeze your ass off the first 5-10 minutes, you're going to love the rest of the run once you're warmed up and you're going to feel great the rest of the day because you ran. So it's not a choice, it's a pre-run checklist. Do not think of it as a choice and thus you don't need motivation. Do you need motivation to brush your teeth before bed? No, it's just that thing you do (if not, please do).

Different/better gear can help change the answer to option 3) above. Headlamp will light the way in the dark (along with a reflective vest to make you more visible ($1-5 dollars at dollar store, surplus store, or walmart); screw shoes (or yaktrax if you don't have surplus shoes) can make the ice a lot safer. There are also waterproof shoes with trail style treads, but that's definitely pricy, but it will remove your fear of all puddles.

I do a lot less sweating in the winter, which I really like. I make sure to not overdress; yes it's cold initially, but you warm up. If you run with some layers (gloves, a coat that can be unzipped), you can start out a bit less cold initially, but if you're running outside in sub- 32 F temperatures you should be at least chilly, if not cold when you start. If not, you're going to be way too warm in 10 minutes.

I'm in Southern Ontario, so I get some cold and snow. I'm also cheap, so I'm good to go with screw shoes, and various layers. If you look at this older thread you'll see a list of how I (and others) layer in the winter. I've recently joined a running group and they seem to layer pretty similar to me. On a recent -14C (-25C with wind chill) a few went for face masks and heavier gloves but that was at most 20%. Many only had a wind proof upper layer.

For dry skin, you just need to moisturize. Once the winter hits, if I don't moisturize at least once daily (and 3+ is more ideal) the knuckles on my hand literally crack and bleed. Stay ahead of the moisturizing and use all of the stuff for deep conditioning of dry skin.

Pushing through pain; how hard are you going, and why? Most running philosophies are that you should have discomfort, but not pain. And not every workout should be a hard workout. If you're new to running you shouldn't be running anything hard probably until you ca do at leasta 5k running without stopping. While running you should be able to converse (talk to yourself to test if you need to). If you can only do 2-3 words on a breath, you're going too hard and should slow, or walk for a bit. jog-walk is the c25k path. I didn't do the c25k program, but I randomly did jog-walk on my own until it was more jog than walk and finally all jog.

For "valid" reasons, how much is your cold interfering your breathing? If it's anything beyond a runny nose, that's a valid reason to not run. On the other hand, if you've got all-over body aches and you're not greatly in touch with your body (running through pain), the aches could mask valuable feedback from your body. Moreover if you're sick, you should 100% not be doing a hard workout and as such shouldn't be running through pain.

Another valid reason is safety; I cut yesterday's run short; it was snowing and I was expecting rain. I had smooth road shoes instead of shoes appropriate for light trail. The snow was turning into slippery slush on the sidewalks and my feet had little traction so they were twisting on my foot strike killing my calfs; especially on my weak leg. By the time I got back my legs were sore enough from the slipping that I knew my body wanted to recover. I'd only done 8k and had planned ~20k. See point 1) do you suspect injury; in this case I did, so I didn't go back out.

As most of the need for motivation is getting out the door give yourself to turn back if you're still not feeling it once you're warmed up (10-15 minutes). Obviously of course if something bad happens on the run, you're always free to re-evaluate your checklist while your running.
posted by nobeagle at 9:57 AM on January 11, 2016 [3 favorites]

These are my principles:

  • bungee shoe laces: removes the excuse that getting dressed for running is a hassle
  • 3 identical running outfits, so I don't need to worry about laundry
  • 2 pairs of running shoes, in case you step in a puddle or snow
When not to run:
  • icy roads/sidewalks
  • any kind of illness (I know people say that if the symptoms are "above your neck" you can go out anyway, but it just makes me miserable)
  • any kind of leg/knee pain: spend your workout time on your foam roller instead
I tend to run even if it's raining (not too hard) or snowing/sleeting, b/c it makes me feel like a badass. It's okay to complain(brag) about the weather when you come in. If you have nobody around to complain(brag) to, that's what facebook/twitter is for!
posted by homodachi at 9:59 AM on January 11, 2016

I realize how ridiculous this sounds, but I have a very low tolerance bar for discomfort, which makes it really difficult for me to exercise regularly. I hate sweating, I hate pushing through pain, I hate being sticky. I hate stepping into puddles by accident and having to run with wet feet.

Have you thought about just walking for exercise? You can bundle up as much as you want, you don't have to break a sweat until you're ready for it, you definitely don't have to push through pain, and being sticky is practically unheard of, as is stepping into puddles by accident.

It's also easy to take along whatever you want when you walk; in my camera bag I take a bunch of podcasts on my ipod, my sketchbook and pens, small binocs for birdwatching, some sugar-free hard candy, and I wear extremely comfortable clothes, especially these thick athletic socks that feel amazing.

Anytime I want to stop and sketch or do some push-ups, I do it. When a thought strikes me, I write it down. When I'm so happy I feel like running, I break out into a run.

I've lost 80 pounds in the last year by walking 4x / week for 30 minutes as my only form of cardio. I'm getting ripped and when I look at the same people who force themselves to jog year after year, I remember how hard it was back when I tried that. Exercises that require little to no willpower are awesome.

Anyway, hope you find something that works for you.
posted by circular at 10:33 AM on January 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

"I hate pushing through pain"

No one should have to do this! It's a thing invented by I'm-fitter-than-you sadists.

To get my winter fun, I regularly ice skate at a local indoor rink. Yes I fall down and that hurts, but I wear padded hockey-type shorts, so it's not crazy painful.

Might ice skating work for you? You never have to work up a sweat; just go at a sedate pace and you'll be fine and burn calories. So good for your heart, and FUN!

Oh, a perfectly valid reason for not exercising in the winter is: "I don't want to."
posted by BostonTerrier at 11:38 AM on January 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

Gear wise:
-Balega running socks. Yes, even in winter, even in rain. Here's the thing: you can run with sopping wet squishing feet with these suckers on and you won't get blisters! Your feet will stay as warm as they would with wool too.
-Seconding a headlamp, reflective vest/leg/arm bands and even a red blinky light for your back.
-Lots of layers and pretty much all of it should be polyester technical fabric (the kind that gets super stinky from sweating). DO NOT wear cotton. (I'm a big believer in natural fibers but I found this rule to be painfully true.) Focus on keeping your core warm: add a down vest over these first rather than a down coat if that's appropriate.
-A buff: you can wear it as a neck gaiter or around your ears or to hold your hair back.
-If your head gets too hot in a hat, try an earwarmer, so your ears stay warm but heat can still vent from the top of your head.

Do you have a good dynamic warm up routine? That can help with getting going. I found that the first mile was always a struggle, like my body just didn't know what was going on and then once my blood was really pumping, it got easier. So some days I would just repeat to myself: "just wait out the first mile..."

If you're sick or injured, don't run imo. You could always experiment with this when you have a cold and see if it makes a difference in your healing time, but I think that when we're sick or injured, we need rest. I'd also like to praise you for following your fear instincts. Those exist for a good reason and it's good to listen to them.

It would be helpful to have a back-up plan for days when you can't go running outside: treadmill, indoor bike, jump rope routine, etc. I'm a fan of doing the 7 Minute Workout 3 times in a row.

Is your skin itchy because it's dry? If it's really dry, I recommend a night time application of Eucerin. I don't think I'd recommend that for your face unless it was wind-chapped or something. For the face, this moisturizing mask can be left on all night. It's gentle and super hydrating.
posted by purple_bird at 11:40 AM on January 11, 2016

Valid reasons for not exercising: for starters, I ran only every other day. I think that I'm more likely to get hurt or start to dislike running if I run every day or try to run every day. Every other day made it easier for me to get excited about it, or at least not dread it. I also generally took it easy if I was sore from something (softball the day before, for example). I wouldn't necessarily not run but if I needed to cut things short, it was okay. I usually don't run or work out if I'm sick. It makes me feel like I'm doing myself more harm than good. And I don't like running in rain - I'm more likely to see when it's going to be dry again and plan to run then than force myself to run in the rain. But I don't mind snow. Running in snow makes me feel kind of badass.

Those were my big reasons. I also try not to be compulsive about exercise. Sometimes I found myself getting really unhappy with myself if I didn't work out. A friend once asked me to get dinner one night and she was apologetic about it being "spur of the moment" because she knows how much I was working out. I thought to myself, I don't want my friends to not ask me to do something because I'll be running when I could just as easily run the next night instead.

Similarly, I try to tell myself it's great that I worked out rather than beating myself up for not working out. I tell myself that it's really rare that I regretted working out, even when I was cranky before I got started. That's true for me actually - I don't usually regret working out. It's not runner's high or anything. I just try to feel happy with myself for doing something challenging when I could have just as easily not done that.

With being uncomfortable, I try to tell myself that it's temporary and I distract myself with music. I don't know how far you are running but I used to run 3-5 miles pretty regularly and some longer runs occasionally. The first mile is usually tough for me. I think to myself that I have to remind my body this is a thing it does. But getting started is just difficult for me. So if I just get past that first mile usually I'm okay and if not, well, this doesn't have to be a long run.

In general with running, I'm not partial to particular gear. Sure, when I find shorts I like, I'll buy a few pairs but with gloves for running, I buy the cheap ones from Target so if I get snot on them while running and want to throw them out, I can replace them for $1-2. I usually wear a fleece headband but again, nothing fancy. When cold weather running stuff goes on sale, I'll buy a few on the cheap. Hand warmers are nice. I like to put lotion on my hands before I run and then stick my hands in my gloves. I also put on lip balm before I go.

In general, I try to remind myself why I run - because I like it. I like seeing my neighborhood as a runner. I like seeing myself get better. I like feeling proud of myself. And I actually like running. If those things weren't true, I wouldn't do it. So remind yourself of why you do it.
posted by kat518 at 2:51 PM on January 11, 2016

My husband who is a runner goes to the gym with me and runs on the treadmill when the weather is too cold or bad. I do not run but walk on the treadmill, work out with a trainer and do water exercise twice a week. I find it motivating to have a trainer to report to. Like you I am very good at making excuses to myself, hate discomfort, hate to sweat etc but having to report to someone else makes me do it. Would it be possible for you to have a running buddy and regular time to run? Dress right when you go out, reflective clothing, good running shoes and socks.

Don't try to run when actually sick or hurt or in extreme weather of any sort. As others have said find something you can do inside at a gym, treadmill, stationary bike, or some other workout. I think you will know when you are making bullshit excuses to yourself not to exercise, and when it is wiser to skip that day. If it feels like just an excuse, not a real reason, do it anyhow.
posted by mermayd at 3:57 PM on January 11, 2016

I moved from southern California to a snowy climate this fall, so I'm dealing with real winter for the first time. I feel your pain! It is much harder to motivate myself to get other there than it was in sunny SoCal. Here's what I've been tinkering with:

Fun music or podcasts to listen to! If I have a podcast I'm really psyched about, or a new album on my ipod, it can really motivate me to get other there. Treat yourself to something on itunes from time to time as a carrot.

Snacks. Are your runs long enough to need fuel? Try swapping out a Clifshot (or whatever you use) with a handful of gummy bears, M&Ms, or other "treat" food. It'll serve the same purpose as your usual fuel but might be more motivating.

Telling myself I can just walk. If I'm REALLY not feeling it, I'll tell myself I can just walk instead of run. Mentally giving myself that permission before heading out relieves a lot of the guilt, and I'll usually end up running after a few minutes of walking anyhow.

Layers for sure! Heads lose a lot of heat so I've been wearing a knit hat on my head as well as something around my neck and it does a good job of keeping me toasty. I bought running gloves that work with touchscreen devices and that's been handy, so I can switch songs on my ipod without stripping my gloves off.

Itchy skin. I'm still working on this! I moisturize constantly, run a humidifier in my bedroom at night, and have been wearing moisturizer + cotton gloves and socks to bed. It's helping my hands and feet look better, but I still get itchy. Wish I had a better answer. :(
posted by Bella Sebastian at 3:57 PM on January 11, 2016

I cancelled my gym membership a couple of months ago when I got hurt, thinking eh, all I can do is walk anyway for who knows how long, I'll do that outside and use my resistance bands at home. But winter finally got here, and I decided the money I'd have to spend on comfortable, safe winter gear is better spent in gym fees. My gym is ~5.5 minutes' walk from my place, 7 on a bad day. My pick is always the closest gym.

motivation / Perspective

I have a rule, must do something every day, to keep my head in the game. Even if it's physio, I treat it like a workout. Stretching, yoga, and walking count. Your body loves movement. It's made for that. Just move a little every day. Going to the gym removes a lot of your obstacles. Good advice above on when to skip/stop.


For home: if you can use them, free weights. I gave mine away (bc toomanyinjuries) and just use resistance bands now - loops, a set that hooks into a door, some longer bands; you can double/triple up. Swiss ball, mat, step.

Gym: gym bag by the door, shoes, 5x sports bras & joggers, old t-shirts.

horribly itchy winter skin

No major personal experience, but I like Eucerin (various creams and lotions) for rough hands.
posted by cotton dress sock at 6:14 PM on January 11, 2016

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