Finding the motivation to exercise can be a struggle on a good day, and the cold winter months can make it even more difficult. Set yourself up for a successful run using these seven tips.

Meet a Friend

Set a date to meet someone for a run. They can hold you accountable for going through with your workout. It’s much more difficult to change your mind about exercising when you know someone is counting on you to show up.

Dangle a Carrot

Luring yourself out the door with the promise of a reward at the end works. Plan on eating a great snackafter, calling a friend, or maybe even doing a little post-run shopping. This strategy works best for short-term goals, though. If you want to run consistently, try making running a part of a larger self-care strategy.

Proper Footwear Matters

You need to take good care of your feet – especially in the winter. Keep warmth in and slush out by selecting shoes with minimum mesh. Choose socks that wick away wetness but keep your feet warm, like non-itchy SmartWool socks.

Dress Like It’s Warmer

The rule of thumb is to dress as if it is 10 to 20 degrees warmer outside than it actually is. You want to be warm but minimize sweating so you won’t get a chill. You should be slightly cool when you start. Dressing in layers with zippers at your neck and underarm area will allow you to ventilate air as you heat up and can help you to wick sweat away.

Warm Your Body Pre-run

Warm muscles are easy to move and lessen your chance of injury. Before you begin your run, move around inside your house enough to get the blood flowing without breaking a sweat. Run up and down your stairs, use a jump rope, or even do a speedy house-cleaning. If you’re meeting a group of friends, use your heated seat if possible or cover up in a blanket and wait in the car until everyone is ready to start running. The cold doesn’t feel so cold when you start warm.

Handling the Wind

There’s nothing quite like a gust of frigid air hitting your face. While it may be unavoidable in the winter, you can make it more bearable. Start your run by running against the wind and finish with it at your back. This keeps the breeze from blasting you after you’ve broken a sweat. Exposed skin is especially vulnerable. If extreme wind is in the forecast, consider slathering up with Vaseline or opting for a face mask before heading out.

Run Well in Rain

In Western Pennsylvanian winters, you may get rain, snow, or mix of both. Be prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws at you. Many experienced runners keep a spare pair of sneakers, a running outfit, and a towel in their vehicle. When it’s raining, you can use the plastic baggy strategy. Simply slip your feet into plastic baggies, then put on your running shoes. The baggies will keep your feet dry if you hit puddles. If your shoes get soaked, dry them overnight with newspaper. Crumple up newspaper and cram it tightly into your shoes, with the insoles removed. The newspaper soaks up the moisture in no time.

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