Donner Party Mountain Runners | How to stay motivated to run |

Donner Party Mountain Runners | How to stay motivated to run

Donner Party Mountain Runners
Trail Transmissions

The alarm goes off at 5 a.m. With a reluctant groan, you slap the snooze button and peer out the window into the predawn blackness.

You know the streets are coated with yesterday’s dusting of snow, and you’ll be wrapped up like an arctic explorer in techwear before you dare lace up your running shoes. The warmth and safety of your blankets are too delicious to leave, but you know you should go for a run.

With the encroaching darkness and dropping temperatures, how do you stay motivated to run before winter completely takes over and (nearly) requires a change of sport?

Although I do enjoy that break from running that the winter season allows, I find it helpful to keep getting out the door to enjoy these beautiful days of fall. Here are some thoughts on how to maintain your motivational mojo.

Go with friends

Training partners can keep you entertained and provide support. I know the only way I ever make it out the door in early morning, wicked conditions is when I’ve agreed to meet a friend at the trailhead.

If you’re looking for people to run with, you might join the Donner Party Mountain Runners and check out some of the organized group runs. Social media is also a great way to make running plans with others.

Have a goal

This could mean choosing a fall race and writing up a specific training plan to get you across that finish line. It could also mean planning a special run with friends, such as the one-way route from Sugar Bowl to Squaw.

Whatever it is, having that goal in mind and knowing that your improved fitness will bring it closer to fruition will add purpose to your mileage.

Follow a routine

If you make a habit out of anything, it becomes easier, and running is no different. Pick a time of day that fits your schedule and stick with it. Are you a morning runner? Then get to bed on time, and get out there every morning. Can you get out during the day or after work?

Make sure you pack your running clothes and bring them with you so you don’t have any excuses. When your body and mind are used to the routine, they are less likely to protest.

Mix it up

In complete contrast to my previous suggestion, sometimes stagnation can be the enemy. If you’re feeling bored with your running, you may need a change in routine. Try a new trail, or at least one that you rarely go to, even if it means a little bit of a drive.

Run at a different time of day. Your running route may look completely different at sunrise, or at night under a full moon.

Try a different workout. Maybe you want to add some speed work or hill repeats, or maybe you want to extend your usual 5-miler into an 8-miler. Whatever it is, sometimes a little change can add just the spice you need to keep your routine a little more flavorful.

With the aspens golden, and the trails smooth and tacky from recent rains, fall is ripe for time on the trail. However you are doing it, make sure you don’t miss out on these, the best days of Tahoe running.

— Author Gretchen Brugman writes on behalf of the Donner Party Mountain Runners, a local 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to informing and inspiring mountain runners in the Truckee-Tahoe area. More information can be found on their site,

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