5 Ways to Stick to Your New Walking or Running Plan in Cold Weather

  1. Dress for the conditions.
    You don’t need specialized clothing to go for a walk, but you will be more comfortable if you’re prepared for the weather. A few key pieces in winter include a neck gaiter to keep icy wind from rushing down your neck, insulating gloves, a hat that covers your ears, and pants that keep your legs from freezing where they are most exposed (usually thighs and bootie). Dress in layers so you can peel one layer off without ending up overexposed.

    Give special consideration to your footwear. You need a sock & shoe combination that is comfortable for walking or running that also keeps your feet warm. Your summertime footwear probably won’t cut it in winter. Conversely, a lot of winter footwear can be heavy and clunky—not ideal for covering a lot of ground. A good pair of wool socks can go a long way toward keeping feet warm but not too sweaty.
  2. Lay out your clothes ahead of time.
    Nothing kills motivation like searching for the right long-sleeved tech shirt in the cold darkness at 5:30 a.m. You’ll be more likely to get up and go if you have your stuff ready to change into. If you have gear, store it all in one place so you’re less likely to lose it between uses.

  3. Find a buddy or a group.
    It's easier to brave the cold if you know someone is counting on you to show up. Ask around at work, at school, on your neighborhood message board, or find a local group online. Running shops usually have lists of local running groups, and meetup.com has lots of running, walking, and hiking groups for various experience levels.

  4. Be realistic.
    Depending on where you live, winter may be mild or mind-blowingly cold. Or it could be both in the same week. Last week the wind chill where I live reached 0℉. You can get frostbite in that kind of weather in less than 30 minutes. Roads were icy from the previous days’ snowfall that melted halfway and then refroze. This is unusual weather for my city, so I’m not exactly prepared with an Arctic-worthy wardrobe. I chose to stay inside for a few days until the weather warmed up. I walked around the block a time or two, but otherwise felt it was safest to wait it out.

    If you’re accustomed to Arctic blasts in winter, you’re probably more prepared to protect yourself in the extreme cold. The point is that sometimes factors outside of your control will interrupt your habit. That’s okay. You can resume as soon as the circumstances change.

  5. Be resilient.
    New habits take time, energy, focus. We simply don’t have an infinite supply of these critical elements. If you run low on resources and your habit slips, it doesn’t mean you’re a loser or a failure. It means you’re human. Give yourself a big hug and start where you left off. It’s all good! 

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