Running Motivation: Make It Through The Warm Up


I’m often asked how I get myself out the door every morning to run, especially in the winter. It’s really not that complicated although this doesn’t mean that I don’t mentally struggle too.

Of course I don’t always feel like it!

running path

I don’t want to move, I don’t want to take off my pajamas and sometimes, the thought of getting started with my run sounds like such a terrible idea.

But I do it anyway. I don’t stop to think about it. I just do it.

The winter months really do make it more challenging though. It’s cold, it’s dark, and my mood is not interested in making it through the warm up portion of my workouts. My feet are cold and my muscles are cold, regardless of where my run is taking place in the winter. My body often fights me, like what the heck are you doing?!

Lately my focus is strictly on the warm up. Just make it through the warm up. I try to remove myself from those minutes of the warm up completely by allowing myself to go through the motions. I tell myself that it sucks right now but you know it will should be fine within 20 minutes. If it’s not, then go home.

I never go home.

Making it through the warm up is really the hardest part and probably what puts most people off from getting out there altogether. I’m not even talking about the dynamic stretching part of your warm up. I am talking about those early minutes of your run, be it outdoors or on the treadmill. You have to learn how to get through those several minutes until you reach that everything-is-in-sync, I am now warm, happy, and ready to run feeling.

Sometimes you feel warmed up in ten minutes and honestly, sometimes it’s five miles.

In case making it through the warm up is an issue for you too, I put together my top tips for mentally getting through it.

You can do it!

running motivation make it through the warm up

Acknowledge it. It’s okay to admit you aren’t in the mood or that you are going to need time to warm up. Rather than fight it, just acknowledge it. Acknowledging it doesn’t mean you skip it, you are just agreeing with your body but doing it anyway.

It’s okay to go home. I’m not really sure who ends up going home after getting past the warm up period of a run but tell yourself that it’s okay to turn around if you are still not in the mood. Trust me, you won’t go home but telling yourself that you can will make the warm up period easier.

Scale plans back. During those periods of lack of motivation combined with winter weather, its okay to scale your grand workout plans back. Run easy, run with no plan, run a shorter distance. Basically, run however you need to run and then reassess your workout after you are through the warm up. My guess is that you will end up running faster and/or longer than you expected once your body has officially warmed up and found it’s groove. And, even if you continue at an easy pace for a shorter amount of time, at least you made it out there and completed a workout.

Remove the pressure. For me, it’s the mental pressure of what else I need to do once I am finished with my run. I often need to remind myself that there’s no pressure, I have this block of time to run and I am going to make the most of it. Taking time to warm up is not taking time away from my run, it’s doing good things for my muscles and my body.

Cross-train your warm up. Quite often if I am in the gym in the winter, I choose the elliptical machine as my warm up. It’s okay to choose another exercise as your warm up rather than running easy! So many times I think I won’t be running because I just can’t but then I make it through a warm up on the elliptical and find myself ready for some speed on the treadmill.

Remember that it’s also okay to cross-train instead of run every day. Runners often get caught up in tallying their weekly mileage and sticking to their plans but it doesn’t have to be like that. Cross-training counts! Even if it doesn’t contribute to your mileage amount, cross-training is still a great workout and a good idea for  giving your body a mental and physical change of pace. Sometimes cross-training is all you really need to relocate your running motivation for the next day.

Of Possible Interest:

Don’t Hate The Treadmill! Workout Round Up

5 Treadmill Benefits For Outdoor Runners

Running Coach Q & A: Shorter Warm Ups + Cutting Back Mileage

Running Motivation: Tips For Making It Through Your Warm Up! #running #motivation #runningmotivation #winterrunning #fitfluential Click To Tweet

Do you sometimes struggle with getting through your warm up?

What do you to when you are lacking motivation to run, especially in the winter?




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  1. says

    These are great tips! For me, the struggle is when I’m waiting for my watch GPS to load and I’m standing in the cold. Just last week I walked outside into the cold, turned around and went back into bed. I didn’t beat myself up since I decided to just do it later (then I get sick but that’s another story lol).

  2. says

    I always end up making it through the run too once I’m out there, even if I tell myself I can stop early if I need to. Its definitely harder to get out the door this time of year, but I know I always feel so much better when I get a run in.
    Lisa @ Mile by Mile recently posted…Year of Running 2017My Profile