running in the winter

Coach Toby: 6 Ways to Stay Motivated This Autumn/Winter

In his latest blog post for Bookhounds members, Coach Toby Fells shares quirky and fun ways to keep you running through the dark and cold days ahead.

Summer is coming to an end, Autumn is on it’s way in and the cold, dark winter will soon be upon us.  Unless you are a winter enthusiast like myself, many runners find it much harder to find the motivation to run during the darker months.

I have compiled a little list of ideas that might help you stay consistent this winter (or any other time of year!).

Start ‘bagging’

I might have made this term up but bagging is essentially collecting things, in this particular case, things you can’t carry home with you.

You can be a bagger of pretty much anything. I bag Wainwrights, hills and mountains, I used to bag trig points and viaducts. I’ve seen people be enthusiastic baggers of post boxes, bridges, roads, footpaths, lakes, even roundabouts.  The possibilities are endless!

Choosing something to bag is a great way of giving purpose to your runs and can potentially get you running new routes, seeing new things and breathing life into your well trodden routes.

I use the Hill Lists App to keep track of any Wainrights/hills/peaks I bag and I used this very old-school website to keep track of my bagged trig points. When I bagged viaducts I listed them on a spreadsheet. I’ve recorded footpaths I’ve bagged using a highlighter on a map.

You could aim to bag every street in your home town or city this winter. Here is a little film for some inspiration.

Zombies, Run!

“An ultra-immersive running game and audio adventure. Every run becomes a mission where you’re the hero, with our immersive audio drama putting you at the centre of your very own zombie adventure story”

I used this app a couple of years ago when I was becoming bored of my runs around the same routes and despite not being the slightest bit interested in the zombie genre, it worked a treat and made for some great lighthearted fun.

It’s also a great way to trick yourself into doing some speed work too if that’s something you struggle with because every now and then you have to outrun the zombies!

I particularly liked that I could play my own playlist in the background which really took the experience to another level.


This app is a bit like a grown up version of Pokémon GO, but instead of catching Pokémon you visit ‘portals’ which are “places of cultural significance – such as art installations, landmarks and monuments – to collect valuable resources”.  I’ve not been signed up for long but so far my understanding is that by collecting these resources from the portals you can then take over territories in your area from the opposition (there are two teams, The Enlightened and The Resistance). You can even communicate with fellow agents on your team in your area although I seem to be the only agent in my sleepy village!

This is a great way to visit and learn about nearby places that you wouldn’t have encountered otherwise.

Set targets

Your targets could be mileage, time spent training or elevation targets. These targets could be weekly, monthly or any other time frame you fancy and you should set little rewards for when you hit them.

Keep the goals sensible, the last thing you want is to be injured for weeks because you decided to set a mileage target so ridiculous even the likes of Kipchoge would struggle!

Make a training plan

You are much more likely to stick to your training if you have a plan. That’s a fact. It doesn’t have to be anything complicated.  It can be as simple as putting dots on the calendar on the days you plan to go for a run.

Get a Coach

If you want a training plan that is specific to you and your goals and don’t have the time or knowledge to put one together, look into getting a Coach.  Not only can a Coach guide you through your training, they can also provide you with some much needed accountability. 

I hope I have offered some options you may not have come across on other running blogs and I’d love to hear if you gave any of them a go and if they helped.

Of course, not running much through winter is okay too. Whilst winter can be a great time to get in some uninterrupted, quality training in, it can also be an opportunity to recover and take the load off your feet so don’t feel pressured to keep up with us winter enthusiasts. Do whatever makes you happy!

Toby Fells is a Bookhounds Pack Member plus Founder and Coach at Queer Runnings.

Photo by Isaac Wendland on Unsplash.