How To Get Motivated For Running Outside In Winter

Running outside in winter: to many that phrase sounds pretty unpleasant. In fact, doing anything outside in winter can sound pretty unpleasant. Especially when you have the choice of being warm and cozy inside.

Running Outside in Winter

But after spending some time with the “it’s too cold to run outside” mentality, I finally decided to at least give it a try and, to my surprise, found that it can be not just bearable, but actually enjoyable.

All you need for a comfortable wintertime run is the right gear and a positive mindset. Motivating yourself to run outside in the winter is really that simple.

I’ve already gone over how to dress for winter running and the best apparel for running comfortably in the cold, so today I’m going to share my tips for getting motivated to run in the cold — in other words, how to take on a positive mindset and get over the mental hurdles that we all encounter when trying to take our winter running workouts to the cold outdoors.

How To Get Motivated for Running Outside In Winter

Getting Motivated For Running Outside in Winter

Here are a few of my own tricks and tips that you can use to get your head in the game if you want to give wintertime running a try but are having a hard time getting your booty out the door.

1. Run when there’s sunlight.

Of course, this is more difficult during the winter months when in many areas sunlight is more limited (right now, here in NYC the sun doesn’t start rising until about 7AM). But if you can push your morning run time back an hour or so it can make a big difference, not only because the sun can provide even just a tiny bit of extra warmth, but also for your mentality. Personally I find running when it’s dark AND cold to be much more mentally challenging compared to a chilly morning run that’s greeted by a beautiful sunrise.

Alternatively, if your more apt to run at the end of the day, try moving your workouts to your lunchtime break, or if you’re lucky enough to have such a flexible schedule, squeeze your runs in during the late afternoon while the last of the day’s sunlight is still shining.

Running outside in winter on the Brooklyn Bridge

2. Craft a few pump-up playlists.

Especially if you’re squeezing your winter running workouts in early in the morning, it can be quiet and lonely out on the road. Sometimes that’s a nice thing, but if you need an extra boost and a little something to look forward to, I always find that a new playlist with fresh music gets me excited to run, no matter what the weather is like outside.

3. Cancel your gym membership.

OK, I admit this might be a bit extreme and if you use your gym for other workouts often it’s probably not necessary. But just hear me out.

I recently cancelled my gym membership because I decided I wasn’t using it anywhere near enough to make paying the monthly fee worthwhile. Not only is this saving me a bunch of money every month (wedding money!), but since I no longer have the treadmill at my disposal, I have no choice but to go outside if I want to run. I’m not saying you have to cancel your gym membership, but it’s definitely been a little extra source of motivation to run outside for me.

Of course, this strategy could totally backfire, so if you’re good at going to the gym consistently and that works for you, then I’d say stick with that!

4. Sign up for a race.

OK, fine. This trick works during any season, but trust me, it’s a tried a true way to hold yourself accountable and stay motivated.

In fact, I’d say this tactic is best for boosting for motivation during the winter months because not only will you have a plan of required workouts to follow (and a race that probably won’t go well if you don’t follow said plan), but you’ll likely be training for a spring or summer race — a warm(er) weather running event to look forward to!

Yes, running outside in winter is a challenge (even for the most dedicated, enthusiastic runners sometimes), but if you come up with a training plan to follow (whether for a race or just for fun and fitness) and use these simple but effective tips, I promise you’ll start to enjoy and look forward to your outdoor workouts.

Do you enjoy running outside in winter, or would you prefer other workouts while you wait for the weather to warm up?


  1. This is my first winter without a gym membership and that alone gets me outside 5 days a week! If you love to run you just have to suck it up. The hardest part is getting out of bed the running part I’ve come to enjoy in the cold. Never would have thought I would be saying that. Plus needing to stay warm is a wonderful excuse for some new gear 🙂

    1. Right? No gym membership has been HUGE motivation for me as well. And I would agree, the hardest part is getting out of bed 😛

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