Training and motivation

Winter bug stopped your running streak?

Germy the messy runner bristol winter cold flu face (2)

Hello there, ye Great British winter. You are a great season for running, with your crisp coldness and poignant-looking pathways, giving us the excuse to layer up.

But you are a terrible season for welcoming in those damned pesky germs. You know, the ones that scupper our best-laid running plans. That halt a nicely building running streak. Yes, you. YOU.

It always starts the same way (for me at least). A scratchy throat and encroaching leaden fatigue, leading into sinusy giddiness and full-face snot explosions. Lovely. That’s been me for the past week (lucky Harry!) and right now, as I type, clattering words together with a brain composed mainly of mashed potato.


The biggest frustration with being ill, is having to stop, even if your logical self knows it’s your body saying ‘woah there’. And especially if you’re the sort of person who can find it hard to get back into running after a much-needed break. So, writing from one germed-up amateur runner to another, here are some things I’ve found help me get through the dumbfounding boredom and infuriation of winter sickness.

Picking up a running / health / wellbeing magazine

the messy runner runners world winter flu germs (2)

Let’s face it, you’ll have time to pour through it now you’re all bunged up and in quarantine from the office. I find picking up (or getting your nearest and dearest to source a copy) of a good running-dedicated publication to be a pretty good tactic to keep spirits and motivation up.

Runner’s World is the obvious choice. Think panoramic photography of covetable round-the-world running spots, focus on improving and strengthening, forthcoming challenges and inspirational human interest stories. Gobble it all up and store it for later.

If you’re up to it, gentle stretching

I’ve found this to be a good halfway activity when feeling rubbish and a bit blue with it. Stretching is as important to runners as hydration anyhow, helping keep your body supple and moving so you’re not going from cold when you do get back up and running. What’s more, with plenty of yoga-based stretch videos of various lengths and intensity available on YouTube, it’s free! Even if you’re only in for one minute or ten, it’s a constructive low-intensity activity that’s not only good for you, but ensures down time doesn’t have to be tumbleweed time.

Running Shoot-3
© Tom Howl Fields

Get some fresh air to gauge how you’re feeling

Stepping outside is for me, along with stretching, always a good test of how I’m doing. Even in this nippy weather, getting out for a gentle trundle around the block, or even sitting out in the garden with a cuppa is a good idea. Again, it helps keep your body ticking along and gives you some of that lovely Vitamin D our bodies like. Yep, even on those gloomy overcast days.

Really listen to some music

Using your non-running time as an excuse to just listen has become a bit of a favourite thing of mine actually. I mean when was the last time you got to just lay down and absorb a full album? And I don’t mean while scrolling on your smartphone. I’m talking about conscientiously finding a record that spikes your curiosity, dimming or shutting off the lights, and having a bit of a headphones moment. Well, with or without your headphones. I find it both relaxes and indulges my hungry creativity monster.

Make a reinvigorating soup!

Soup is nice. And it’s usually pretty uninvolved to cook. Turmeric is tasty and with all of the hype around the wonder spice, feels even healthier to ingest than usual. I like making courgette and turmeric soup.

Courgette turmeric soup the messy runner bristol

Order something new to take out on your run

Is there any kit you’ve been hankering after but haven’t got round to acquiring? It could be a new water bottle, headphones, sweat band or socks – it doesn’t have to be mega. But again, researching and then waiting for the post to come is a fairly gentle, enjoyable and exciting activity (if you’re the excitable type).

Watch a motivational documentary

If you haven’t seen the BBC Mind Over Marathon documentary, which saw ordinary people experiencing various mental health issues embark on training to complete the London Marathon, first time round, you missed a trick. What a beautiful, and highly inspirational thing it was. Embodying the full power of running in helping lift the spirit and support mental wellness. I’d recommend this interview with MoM runners Jake and Poppy here. Or, of course, find your own nugget of inspiration.

Last, but absolutely not least, bide your time with this whole recovery thing. It will be worth it. Plus some, albeit forced, full-bodied space from the running game could help you come back wiser and more well-rounded.

I’d love to hear about your own Winter bug motivation boosters! Comment below or Like The Messy Runner on Facebook.

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