Getting Out the Door
There’s something I like to call an “annoyance barrier” that has the power to keep you from running, especially in the winter. It could be as innocuous as a question from someone close to you who says, “You’re not going out in this weather, are you?” Or you might say to yourself, “I’ll wait until this afternoon when it’s warmer.” Risky. Life is way too likely to intrude.
If you’re “over the hump,” if you’ve been running long enough to know you’re going to get in some miles this day, you may not be excited about braving the wind, but you’ll go because you need to, you want to, no matter how miserable that first mile is likely to be. After that, you know you’ll warm up, the kinks will loosen and the little aches and pains will diminish. Sometimes, to your surprise, you’ll slip into “the zone” and have a great run despite the weather.
You don’t buy it? Okay. Maybe it won’t happen like that every time, but most people who run regularly will tell you that no matter how hard it is to get out the door, they are never sorry that they went. Below are some gimmicks to pry you out of bed, into your running clothes, layer after layer if need be, and out into cold, darkness, wind, and even snow.
Make a date with a friend. Commit to showing up at a specified time and place. You’ll be less likely to cancel when someone else is counting on you. Fort Collins runners Cathy Morgan and Melinda Frye have been meeting at 6 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, regardless of temperature and conditions, for long enough so that it has become a sacred routine.
Plan ahead. Decide what you’re going to wear and choose your clothes the night before. Sounds silly, but it represents a tiny bit of commitment that can be helpful.
Remind yourself that a run is necessary, that it will give you energy and allow you to bring added enthusiasm to whatever task you undertake. There’s no better time or place to problem solve. I’ve often wished that someone would invent a convenient mechanism for preserving on the spot the ideas that pop into my head out on the road.
If you’re new enough to running that it hasn’t yet become second nature, try this: In the words of long-time Fort Collins cross country coach and runner T.S. Berger, “Start slow and taper off.” Jump in your car and measure out a one-mile loop beginning at your own front door if possible. Decide how many days of the week you are going to run—at least three and perhaps as many as five, and go out and attack that mile. Start slowly. When you can’t run any longer, walk. Once you’ve caught your breath and are smiling again, begin to jog. Repeat this scenario until you’ve completed the mile. When you can run the whole mile without walking, you’re ready to add some distance, no more than five minutes’ worth each week. And keep smiling. It means you’re having fun!