As the evenings get darker and the temperatures drop, it is easy to come up with reasons not to go out for a run. It may be tempting to pack away your running gear all together.
But wait, there are so many important reasons to keep running over the colder months. Running during the winter can strengthen your immune system, improve your mood, help you manage your weight and make you feel energised!
The benefits of running in the winter are clear, but it's still difficult to head out in the rain and wind. So, in order to keep motivated we suggest you set a goal, and not just any goal, a S.M.A.R.T.E.R goal.
Too often people set goals which are vague, such as to lose weight or run faster. Goals like this can quickly be forgotten or feel too hard to measure.
S.M.A.R.T.E.R goals can be more powerful and achievable. Each letter in the acronym stands for a criterion that your goal must meet. S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound and then you should Evaluate and Redo them.
An example of a S.M.A.R.T.E.R goal for a beginner runner might be to run two times a week for the next nine weeks and complete a 5km park run at the end of the nine weeks on the 26th of January. This goal ticks all the boxes below:
The first step is to make sure your goal is specific. Include as much detail in the goal as possible. Try and cover precisely who, what, when, where, why and how. This will mean your goal is clear and concrete.
Make sure your goal is also measurable. What exactly will success look like? There should be a clear objective marker which will tell you if you have achieved your goal. Numbers and times are easily measurable.
It is important to have big longterm dreams, but short-term goals should be something manageable for you personally within a shorter length of time. Think about the level you are currently at. Achievable goals should be on the outskirts of your comfort zone and keep you progressing in a healthy, gradual manner.
Your goals should be important and personalised to you. They should also be relevant to the long-term goal you want to achieve.
Your goals should also have a deadline. It's hard to get anything done without an end point. Setting goals with short-term deadlines can be more effective. You should have an exact date by when you plan to achieve your goal.
The process of working towards a goal should be evaluated to help you work towards a longer-term goal. Think about the lessons you learned while working towards the goal, the obstacles you faced and how you responded.
Lastly it is now time to set a new goal with all of the knowledge you learned from your goal-setting evaluation.
So now is the time to sit down and physically write out your S.M.A.R.T.E.R goal using the guide above. Put the goal somewhere that you will see it and tell someone else about your goal.
Don't let winter stop you!