Can you share a motivating tip to help me tackle my run after work when it’s already dark?
There are a few things I’ve found that helped me with dark after-work running motivation. First, I try to pack clothes and change at work and then run from there, or drive directly to where I want to run. Going home just increases my chances of wasting time and either missing a run or not getting in as much as I would like. I found too that it helps to have motivational reminders at work. It might be dates of your upcoming races, race memorabilia, quotes, or having your running shoes in view by your desk. Finally, telling your co-workers about your running goals can help since they’ll likely ask about your running plans after work, and help hold you accountable.
Treat yourself to an awesome headlamp, reflective gear and, if you live somewhere cold, really warm/waterproof mittens! Having the right gear will help motivate you to get out the door and will keep you safe while out there. Speaking of safety, make a plan with someone of where you are going and how long you are going to be out. A text to a friend, a note on the counter, something. Be sure to let the same person know you made it back. Also, see it as an adventure! Even the same old route you do every day will feel different at night. Finally, it helps to have a buddy… accountabil-a-buddy. Someone you know will be there will get you out the door. My 4-legged buddy ensures I do!
I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge fan of running in the evenings. My motivation sinks tremendously once the clock hits 3:00pm, so the thought of running in the dark is even more unappealing. BUT, no matter how much I’d rather just hit up happy hour, I’ll still head out for a run. My biggest motivator…the feeling of flying. Whether or not it’s true, I always feel faster at night. Being surrounded by darkness with only my trusty Petzl Nao lighting the way, my vision and perception will play tricks on me. Since there is no vista or long distance views, everything I can see rushes by, thus making me feel quick on my feet. Running in the dark will also force you to focus on your technical running skills.
This isn’t true for everyone, but I’ve found that I sleep better on days that I exercise. I know I’m bad about skipping workouts if I wait until after work, especially in winter, so I usually opt to get things done in the morning… which means 4:30am alarms…which isn’t for everyone. When forced to hit the road at night, I try to get lost in the small world of my headlamp. I choose to run near my home in the country, because the deep lack of light forces my focus to stay in my own tiny world. On cold nights, you can see the rhythm of your own breath. You hear your footfalls. You are only aware of the yard or so of road that lay ahead. No distractions. It can be very calming – very meditative.
For me, starting something that’s hard or that I’m unmotivated to do usually goes away by the third or fourth time I’ve done it. They say that it takes a solid three weeks of consistency in order for a new habit to stick. I like to consider running a habit rather than training or “I have to get it done” sort of feeling. When I make it a part of my regular routine, it just becomes a natural part of the day. I know that’s easier said than done, but the consistency will pay off.
I live in Central NY and during the winter it is dark by 4:45pm! I have found that having a small snack and a cup of tea that has caffeine in it about 30 min before I would be going out gives me the boost to get out there most of the time! I also make sure I have all my clothes and winter accessories packed and ready to go. And, as always, being signed up for a race (even if it’s a small local one) is a good motivator to get out and get it done! Good luck and happy trails!