Unless you love exercising it’s hard when the days are short and grey to get motivated to work out.
It’s even harder if you don’t have a goal, be it a bikini or wedding dress to squeeze into.
Without a social event to slim for, why not book yourself on to a race to help motivate you to get fit?
We have rounded up the 12 best races in early 2013. Find your favourite, book a place and start practicing – we guarantee it will keep you pounding those pavements this winter...
What: ELLE has teamed up with Nike to bring you the ultimate 10K run in London's Regent Park on the evening of May 18.
7,000 women will lace up their trainers and head off on a route twice around Regents Park. A suitably fashionable event we have all sorts of top secret surprises along the route and in the runner's village at the event - it’s run, festival and rave all rolled into one. Trust us, you won't want to miss it!
Where: Regents Park, London
When: 18 May
Medal: Yes, of sorts (it's top secret)
What: If a marathon sounds too much like hard work then head to parkrun.org.uk. They organise weekly 5km timed runs that are free.
Simply browse the events listings around the country, find a run, then register to take part.
You’ll be emailed your time post- race so each week you can aim to beat yourself! Great motivation.
When: every week
What: Raise money for the NSPCC and tick ‘climbing a mountain’ off your to-do list by reaching the summit of Mount Snowdon, which at 1085m is the tallest in England and Wales.
When: 23-24 March (other dates available)
Cost: £169 + fund raising
What: If you keep getting knocked back by the notoriously hard-to-get London Marathon, then maybe it’s time to move on.
The Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon is one of the top long-distance races in the country but with little over half the entrants of the London race (20,000 runners compared to 38,000 in London) it makes for a less crowded run.
When: 6 May
What: If you prefer getting on a bike to pounding the pavements why not take on a long-distance cycling challenge?
Moon Riders organise 100km night time bike rides from London to either Cambridge or Brighton.
The route is sign-posted, there are support riders along the route, as well as two snack and one hot meal stop.
Where: London to Cambridge
When: 10 May
Cost: £49 when you sign-up + £300 pledge to charity or £139 when you sign-up
Medal? No, but you get a well-deserved celebratory breakfast
What: If you prefer team sports then this challenge will be for you. Gather a group of willing friends and take on the famous Three Peaks Challenge – all you have to do is climb the three tallest mountains in England, Scotland and Wales, Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon, in 24 hours. Easy...
Where: Lake District
When: June – September
Cost: from £320
What: Dip your toe in to Lake Windermere and tackle a ½ mile, 1 mile, 2 mile or 5km ‘wave’ (or swim to you and me).
It’s a wetsuit-only event, but you can hire these. A bit of a free-for-all, there’s no swimming pool-esque lanes in this lake so only strong swimmers need apply.
If you haven’t swum in open water before, stick to the half or one mile distance.
When: 14-16 June
Cost: from £32 for ½ mile
What: Walk your way to a half or full marathon and raise money and awareness for breast cancer.
The overnight walks take place in London (11 May), Edinburgh (8 June) and... Iceland (13-17 June).
Oh and ideally, they like you to the walk in your bra.
Feel up to doing all three? Then sign up for the 3 Land Challenge.
Where: London, Edinburgh and Iceland
When: 8 June
Cost: from £47.50
What: While the undulating coast line of North Devon makes for a scenic run, it’s also physically demanding.
Whether you sign up for the half or full marathon you are guaranteed a challenge.
Great if you have run a half marathon before or want a more challenging marathon than London’s relatively flat course.
Where: Woolacombe, North Devon
When: 30 June
Medal? Yes, as well as a complimentary cream tea!
North Devon Marathon & Half Marathon: 30 June
What: Three triathlon distances covered in and around the lake that played host to the rowing events at this year’s Olympics.
Choose from Super Sprint (450m swim/10km cycle/2.5km run), Sprint (750m swim /20km cycle/5km run) or Standard (1.5km swim /40km cycle /10km run).
Where: Eton Dorney, Buckinghamshire
When: 21 July
Cost: from £37 for the Super Sprint
What: Okay, this is not for the fainthearted, The Spartan Race may only be 5km but the obstacles you come up against will make it feel more like a marathon!
With mud, water, climbing and even fire to contend with (and no route map to analyse beforehand) this is a true challenge of mental and physical strength!
Where: Redhill, Surrey
When: 25 August
What: Carried out over two days the London Triathlon has a selection of distances to suit all, whatever your age or a gender. You can even enter as a team, ideal if your breaststroke isn’t as strong as your sprint.
Where: ExCel Centre, London
When: 27/28 July
What: Take in the stunning views the Lake District has to offer during these 17km + trails.
Choose from panoramic views of Morecombe Bay, the wonder of Beatrix Potter country or the picturesque countryside of Kentmere. Anything to distract you from the rugged, hilly terrain...
Where: Lake District
When: from 16 March
Cost: £24 each or £65 for all three
Medal? No, you’ll get a T-shirt