8 Top Tips for Running Motivation

Sometimes we all get a bit low on running mojo.

We have our own reasons and excuses. Maybe you’re still drained from a spring marathon or other race. Maybe life has been getting in the way. Maybe you’re struggling with fitness or health, or running has just been feeling a bit too hard recently.

It’s all too easy to come up with the excuses. But if you want to rediscover what made you love running in the first place, try out these ideas to get your running motivation back on track…

1. Don’t overthink it

If you spend too much time dwelling on how hard running is for you at the moment, and scratching your head about the reasons, you could be turning it all into a bigger issue than it deserves to be.

It might be time to stop worrying, stop overthinking it, and just start doing it again. Or at the very least, turn that mental energy into finding a positive route back into your running.

2. The first step is the hardest

The hardest part is often setting off. Leaving the house can be tough. Excuses are limitless: “I’m too tired today”, “a rest would do me good”, “I feel a cold coming on”, “I really ought to ______[insert duty] instead”, etc, etc.

Luckily, there’s a simple remedy. Decide to go!

Don’t fall into thinking that there’s a debate to be had with yourself about whether you’re going out or not. Stop the excuses, just lace up your shoes. The great thing is that once you’ve set off, you realise that the worst part was the anticipation.

Just that first step over the doorstep and the battle against the low mojo is already half won.

3. Be sociable

Run with a friend. If you’ve arranged to run with someone else, it’s not as easy to drop those runs just because you don’t feel like it.

It’s much more fun too, and a good chance to catch up. Chatting on a run will distract you from thinking about not enjoying it.

Think about joining a club too. It’s a brilliant way to make like-minded friends and to improve your running. Or if you’re already a club member make an effort to join in with club training and events. Fellow runners will understand the problems of occasional low running motivation.

If your current club isn’t helping your mojo, look around for a different club. There are all sorts of different clubs with different approaches – some are serious, some are fun, some train on tracks, some go off-road, some are obsessed with split times, some don’t wear watches. Even within the same club, different training groups often have a very different approach to running. Have a look around and you might be surprised what’s on your doorstep.

4. Mix it up, get some variety

They say a change is as good as a rest. Try changing what you do and it might lift you out of the rut. Here are a few ideas:

  • Route: Try going a different route from the same old, tired training route you usually use. Maybe avoid planning in advance, just go where your feet take you. Explore new areas and try new paths.
  • Walk: If running really isn’t working, go for a walk. You’ll get good exercise and fresh air. Walking is very good for you – low impact, burns calories, keeps the running muscles ticking over. And after a few walks, you might find you’re itching to run again.
  • Change your pace: Switch from longer slow runs to short fast ones, or the other way round. Have some fun with different types of running. Use intervals to keep the variety.
  • Fartlek: Instead of a planned session, try Fartlek (“speed play”) – free running where you chuck in intervals over whatever distance you feel like running, then space them out with jogs in between. These are fun and allow you just to run how you feel.
  • Try something new: for example, try running to music or a podcast if you don’t usually. (I highly recommend marathontalk.com!)

5. Have a reason…

Sometimes we need a reason to get out there: an upcoming race or challenge. If you don’t have a race in the diary, get signed up. A looming deadline is a sure fire way to get yourself going. Or your target might be getting to a certain weight by a particular date, or improving your parkrun time over the summer.

Fundraising can also really help to keep you on track, particularly with a cause you really care about. The reason for fundraising provides motivation in itself.

Alternatively, simply make yourself accountable to others. If you set a target and tell your friends and family, you are much more likely to stick to it, as well as getting the support and encouragement you need. Try writing up your plan on one of our Weekly Run Planner chalkboards and putting it up on your kitchen wall. As soon as everyone can see it, you feel more accountable for sticking to it!

6. …Or have no reason. Run free.

If targets don’t do it for you, try running free instead. Lose the watch. Change your mindset. Just go and run. Don’t even plan how far you’re going when you set out, just see how you feel. It can be amazingly liberating.

Even better, get out on the trails, run some hills or go on the beach. Get in touch with nature. You’ll certainly feel healthier for it.

7. Reward yourself

We all still have that small child inside us who occasionally demands a treat. So give in. If getting out of the door for a run is really hard, reward yourself for doing it. Have something to look forward to afterwards.

Post-run ice-cream, beer, hot chocolate, bubble bath, favourite TV programme, or whatever floats your boat.

8. Volunteer: give something back

While you’re not in the zone, use the time to give something back by volunteering at a race or two. Marshalling is a great experience, and is crucial to any event. Watching other runners zip past might just give you the taste for running again too.

Finally, good luck. It’s just temporary, you’ll be back to your running self soon.

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