Struggling for motivation over winter? Stay on track with these top fitness tips from Laura at Lazy Girl Running…

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It’s cold, it’s dark and it’s easy to sit on the couch. But summer will be here before you know it, and – trust us – you won’t want to be starting your fitness regime from scratch yet again.

To get some advice on how to keep your exercise regime up throughout winter, we’ve been talking to Laura Fountain, founder of the Lazy Girl Running, about how to keep up the pace when the weather’s cooling down.

From lazy girl to fitness blogger

“I’ve always been a writer,” Laura tells us. “I’ve worked as a journalist, and about nine years ago I was working as an editor, editing medical booklets for a charity. I had a bit more time on my hands and I needed to do something to be fit,” she says of her pre-blog life.

“I had always been lazy, but you know how you get this drip, drip, drip of messages telling you you need to do exercise? That you need to do something? Eventually I relented and went to the gym. I’d tried several things before – I’d joined a netball team, I’d tried running, I took up climbing – but I’d never really stuck to anything. I’d never really enjoyed it.”

But the gym wasn’t all smooth sailing either. Laura says the first time she went in, the instructor looked at her small build and said “oh you look pretty fit, you must know how this all works”. She was too embarrassed to say, “no actually, I don’t,” so she hopped on the only thing she really knew how to operate, the treadmill, and took her first steps to success.

“That first run was 1.14km and it took me 14 minutes,” she laughs. “I think I can walk a kilometre a bit faster than that now.”

But what really made the difference was keeping a decent log; Laura’s first big tip for fitness success.

1. Keep track of your progress

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“When I first started I wrote everything down in a notebook,” she explains. “I was walking and running and generally finding it really hard, but that’s how important it was to me; I wrote that first run time down to two decimal places. No matter how small the amount I was doing, if the next time I went I could do a tiny bit more and a tiny bit more, I could see that level was gradually building up. Seeing the little improvements, no matter how small they were, really motivated me. I don’t think I’d get that in many other sports.”

2. Take advantage of fitness and entertainment apps

While Laura went old school with her first notebook, there’s now a plethora of tracking technology available, and she swears by her Garmin watch.

“With my watch I measure how far and how fast I’ve gone. Sometimes I’m more interested in that than others but I always wear it so I can keep a log,” she says. “Sometimes I take my phone, particularly if I haven’t charged my watch, because I have the Strava app on it. I upload to Strava from my watch as well, but if it isn’t charged I can just put my phone on and measure with that. And, if I’m running a long way and I don’t know where I’m going, I can look at the map and find my way back.”

“Also, I do like to take the odd running selfie when I’m out and about – and I Instagram a few of those. At the moment I don’t listen to music when I’m running outside, but when I’m on the treadmill at the gym I do. I had to do a 10-mile marathon pace run on the treadmill back in May and I actually took my iPad and watched a film on iPlayer, because it was like an hour and a half of running on the treadmill!”

Her film of choice? My Week with Marilyn. “It just happened to be the right length.”

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Want to keep track of your diet as well as your training? Apps like MyFitnessPal – Calorie Counter and Diet Tracker (on Android or iOS) and LifeSum (Android, iOS) let you set personal goals and access dietary information to build an all-round healthier lifestyle. Or, for your own personal trainer and workout inspiration, check out the 100+ workouts on Nike+ Training Club (Android, iOS), Adidas’ Train and Run on Windows Phone, Android and iOS, or FitnessBuilder’s catalogue of instructional videos (Android, iOS).

3. Join or build a network

Laura’s certainly come a long way since her very first 1.14km run. She is now a personal trainer, running coach, marathon runner and author of two books – Tricurious and The Lazy Runner. In addition to recording her progress, she says one of the major things that’s kept her motivated is the community she’s fostered with other runners.

“In the early days I didn’t know anyone else who ran. None of my friends and family ran and they got a bit fed up of me talking about it, so I wrote about it on this blog. I didn’t really tell anyone that I was doing it at first. It wasn’t until I was nominated for a Cosmopolitan blog award in 2011 that I was like ‘oh yeah, so I’ve been writing this blog and I’m up for this award…’”

“Now a lot of my friends run, or swim, or cycle, so instead of saying ‘oh do you want to go for a drink or a coffee?’ we’re more likely to ask whether they want to go for a run or a swim or something. Having that network is important. I now have a private Facebook group for my runners too. All the members are current and previous members of my running groups, and they all live around north London like me, so they use it as a way of going ‘oh, I’m going to run this evening, does anyone want to join me?’”

4. Choose the gym or well lit areas

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In winter, Laura says she and her groups tend to stick to the roads:

“Many trails aren’t lit at night, and you don’t want to trip over and injure yourself. It can also be a bit eerie running around a park at night. When it’s dark we use a block that’s 400 metres round, so about the same distance as a running track. There are no roads that you need to cross – you just have to be a bit careful when you’re going round corners that no one’s coming the other way – and we do interval training. Interval training is a great option if you’re limited on space. I also use the gym around the corner from me where there are treadmills. There’s a lot you can do if you think about it.”

That includes yoga for those down-dog days – time is no excuse. Try 5 Minute Yoga – Quick Workouts for Flexibility on iOS or the popular Daily Yoga on iOS and Android.

5. No matter how small, just start

Final words of motivation from Laura? “Just keep going.”

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“Some days it’s going to be cold, but if you keep running from summer, through autumn and into winter then you will gradually get used to that drop in temperature. It’s probably more mental than physical, but you’ll know that today you might need a longer-sleeved top on and next week you put an extra one on top of that, and by winter you’re putting on a jacket, but you’ll notice it a lot less than those people who start up running in February thinking ‘oh I need to get fit,’ or ‘I need to get back into running.’ They’re going to struggle a lot more.”

Need more winter fitness inspiration? See Ordinary Cycling Girl Donna Navarro’s tips for safe cycling on city roads throughout the darker months.