If your plan calls for an outdoor run, check out the path ahead of time to make sure it’s safe. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

So you want to get off the couch and run in a 5K race.

Or maybe your goals are a little more modest. Perhaps you just want to adjust your sedentary lifestyle and establish a regular exercise routine to become healthier.

No matter what your plans, these tips from Frank Lerchen, a Spectrum Health athletic trainer assigned to West Ottawa High School, can help you get moving in the right direction—even when the snow flies.

“Basically, these are some tips that can help get people who are inactive to become more active and establish a workout routine that fits into their lifestyle,” Lerchen said.

1. Commit

Make a commitment to yourself and another individual. It could be anyone—a friend, a relative or just a running buddy.

“Find someone who can hold you accountable and will encourage you in a positive way,” Lerchen said.

2. Invest in quality shoes

A quality pair of running shoes is a must.

“If you’re going to do some avid running, use a good pair of standard running shoes, assuming you’re not on icy terrain,” Lerchen said. “Your feet and body will thank you and it might enhance the excitement of running just trying out that new pair of shoes.”

If you’re outside, review the running area, Lerchen said. Find an area you’re comfortable with—something that’s familiar to you. And make sure it’s a place you’ll enjoy. Look for a safe, ice-free area.

3. Plan it out

Create a plan tailored to your daily schedule and give yourself grace when things don’t go according to the plan.

“Life is busy,” Lerchen said. “And a commitment without a plan is just a wish.”

4. Train and recover

Consistent training and an intelligent recovery are paramount. As much as possible, stick to your routine by following a regular or semi-regular schedule. If you miss a couple days, try to get back on the wagon and continue. Do this consistently.

An intelligent recovery involves hydrating well and keeping an eye on all the factors that can affect your performance, whether you’re running, biking or engaging in some other activity.

“Get a good night’s sleep, have a healthy diet,” Lerchen said. “Manage stress. And warm up and cool down before and after the activity.”

5. Don’t compare yourself to others

This is sound advice, but particularly so when you’re just starting out.

“Comparison is the thief of all joy,” Lerchen said. “If you’re just trying to get off the couch, don’t compare yourself to others who may be participating in the same type of exercises or activities. You want (exercising) to be fun.”

6. Know the season

Winter exercise can present challenges that you won’t find in warm weather. Lerchen suggests placing more emphasis on warm-ups to avoid strains and sprains in cold weather.

“Also, if you’re outside, watch out for icy areas,” he said. “And even if you work up a sweat, dress in layers. You’ll want something that wicks away sweat so you’re not running in a fully saturated sweater or coat.”

The mechanics of winter running can also change. Runners need to take shorter strides for better balance, which will help keep them safe.

7. Celebrate

Some parting advice: Celebrate the little successes when you reach a goal. Even if you’ve just successfully completed all of the workouts you had planned, it’s cause for celebration.

“Enjoy a special meal with your significant other,” Lerchen said. “Treat yourself to a favorite dessert—but in moderation. Focus on the little things that help you enjoy the process.”