Ways to keep up your early-morning workout when it's cold outside

Baby, it’s getting cold outside!

As if psyching yourself up to consistently exercise is not challenging enough, Mother Nature decides to drop the temperature while we turn the clock back an hour. For many of us warm-blooded types, getting out from under the covers on cold mornings requires a crowbar and a lot of internal dialogue. How can we keep up our fitness routine in these conditions?

Whether you’re headed out to the next room to workout, prepping for an outdoor run or going to the gym, these tips should help you survive the winter so that you stay active all season long.


The night before

Sleep in your workout clothes so you don’t have to do the quick “it’s freezing!” change in the morning. If you’re a runner, sleep in your base layer. Keep your sweatshirt bedside, slip it on before leaving the covers.


Wake up time

This is not a drill! Do you whatever it takes for you to not hit the snooze button. Leave motivational notes next to your alarm; display your goal clearly so it’s the first thing you see when you wake up. Download some creative apps, like Morning Routine, that force you out of bed.


Getting out the door

If you’re not planning on working out in your living room, you face the next challenge of actually getting out the front door. Raise your body temperature and heart rate with a quick warmup exercise like jumping jacks, squats, push-ups or dynamic stretching. Visualize how sweaty you’ll be when you get to your destination and start moving.

Buddy up. Suggest a carpool to some of your fellow early-morning fitness class goers, or find a running group or buddy. It’s a great way to hold each other accountable. And if you oversleep, there will be a few impatient fitness buffs banging on your door to wake you up.

If it's still dark outside, make sure to wear safety gear like these reflective gear options that will make you visible to drivers.


You did it!

When you return victorious, be sure to reward yourself with a hot shower and a hot cup of tea. You deserve it!

After a few weeks of a consistent routine, you will become more accustomed to the temperatures and maybe even (gasp) enjoy heading out into the cold.



Submitted by Jonathan Quist on

I started running two years ago, in mid-December in the Chicago suburbs. I didn't know any better, so I just ran outside. An experienced friend provided advice on what combinations of clothing to wear at different temperatures. Part of the trick is to not dress to keep yourself warm when you first start out - dress warm enough for conditions when you've been going at it 10 minutes or more.

For short runs, I'll eat a banana and have a glass of water or cup of coffee when I first get up, then get dressed and out the door fully fueled. For runs longer than about 8 miles, I'll have a serving of oatmeal with the banana. (With a small crock pot, it's possible to cook even a single serving of steel cut oats to perfection overnight.) I save the full breakfast for after the run.

As for motivation... well... the sight of dawn breaking over a frost-jeweled field is usually sufficient for me.

Specific running-related cold weather tips will be appearing in all the running magazines this time of year, for those seeking more detail.

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