Bundling up with cold weather gear will make your workouts more comfortable.

How to Stay Motivated to Exercise on the Shortest, Coldest Days

Don’t get discouraged if it’s not always easy to get yourself out for a run, especially at first. It takes time to make running fun. The more you run, the better your body feels and the more motivated you are to keep running. And when it’s dark and cold before you’re even off work, it’s that much more challenging.

If you’re worried that winter is getting you down and interfering with your running, remember that there are always going to be good days and bad. On the good days, running is really fun and enjoyable, while on the bad days you need to listen to your body. Make sure you’re not pushing yourself to the point of pain or even hating to run.

Run to a Beat

I don’t run with music during a race, but for longer solo training runs or on those days I’m dragging, I put on my iPod and the music gets me pumped up. I have a running playlist with uptempo tunes, some older, some newer. My son is into hip hop, and some of those are great to run with. One song that always peps me up is La Isla Bonita by Madonna — it’s so catchy. But when you run with music, keep the volume low, and always be aware of your surroundings.

Don’t Worry about the Weather

I’m not afraid to run in the rain. Unless it’s a blustery stormy day, it feels good to run in the rain! Having a dog is helpful, especially in the early mornings. I’ll get up with my husband and we’ll get the dog out running, then take a shower, and get ready for work.

Learn New Routes

Explore different routes so you don’t get bored. Pamakid Runners, producers of the Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon and 5K, hosts free training runs for four weeks prior to race day. Every week is a different route. One week it’s across the Golden Gate Bridge, another week it’s through Fisherman’s Wharf, down the Embarcadero and to the Giants’ ball park.

Psych Up with Race Events

Another way to build momentum is to sign up for 5Ks prior to the Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon. I love running 5Ks because they’re only three miles long. Even if you’re a beginner, you can run and walk the race. You get pretty jazzed with all the runners, spectators, and entertainment. The best feeling is after a race. Crossing the finish line, you feel accomplished, and it’s so exhilarating. Lastly, as my running coach says, “On race day, have ‘happy and positive thoughts’.”

Veteran marathon runner Jodi Thirtyacre works for Kaiser Permanente as the manager of the Department of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology at the San Francisco Medical Center. Jodi began running when she was only nine and ran track in high school. She kept up her regimen in college and ran her first marathon at 21. Jodi is the captain of Kaiser Permanente's teams for the Half Marathon and 5K.