Pittsburgh’s weather has not been great for runners with races in the late winter and early spring. Low temperatures, combined with the wind chill, have sometimes made training outside brutal, if not impossible.
I understand the difficulty those runners have faced. I’m one of 12 people from Pittsburgh who will run more than 200 miles across the Caribbean country of Haiti on February 17. We have been training since October, and it has been challenging. Weekends have involved back-to-back long runs to prepare our bodies for the tough trek ahead. Some of those weekends were nice; others were just grueling. (One Saturday, I spent almost 4 hours running a marathon [26.2 miles] on a treadmill because the weather made it too dangerous to train outside.)
How have I stayed motivated to train during the past few months? Here are some of strategies I’ve used:
- Join a group run. I’m lucky to have 11 people on this journey with me. We scheduled group runs together, and that kept us motivated and accountable. Doing a long run on the Rachel Carson Trail with other runners is more fun than doing it by yourself.
- Mix it up. If you keep running in the same location, you will get bored. Mix it up: Take a different route and do a variety of activities. I’ve run through various Pittsburgh neighborhoods, taken different trails, and visited a number of parks. I even ran a 1-mile lap around my neighborhood. I’ve done hill sprints and strength-training exercises, and I’ve focused more on my flexibility.
- Make yourself accountable. I found that telling my wife about my long runs motivated me to get out and go. I didn’t want to give her a lame excuse for why I didn’t go on a run! You can also share your training plans on social media. Trust that the people who can see your profile will hold you accountability and offer their support.
- Dig deep. For me, this is the most personal motivator. I think about how far I’ve come and how lucky I am to be where I am today. I remind myself that I’m running for a great cause — a charity group, a person, or even families. Those thoughts often are enough to get me moving.
I hope you can use one or all of these strategies to stay motivated. Good luck training for your next race or physical challenge!