How To Stay Motivated For Running
When it comes to staying motivated, running is a mind game. Runners, especially long-distance runners, have a lot of time to think about why they run. At some point, you may question why you run and wonder if you should continue to get out there.
“What distinguishes those of us at the starting line from those of us on the couch is that we learn through running to take what the days gives us, what our body will allow us, and what our will can tolerate.”
-John Bingham, running writer and speaker
Numerous articles, books, and news reports have been written on the externals or physical side of running (i.e. training, injury-prevention, nutrition, running apparel, running accessories, etc.), but not as much time has been devoted to running motivation.
There are many ways for you to find and increase your motivation to run. Some of my favorites include setting goals (and rewarding yourself when you succeed!), keeping a training log, finding a friend (or many friends) to run with, volunteer for a race, entering your own race, and getting creative with your workouts.
Set Running Goals
Set running goals for yourself so that you can monitor your progress on a weekly or monthly basis. As you see progress, your motivation will increase. Below are some specific goal setting tools:
- 1. Be specific – In order to stimulate your motivation, you need to be specific with your goal setting. For example, do you want to get under 4 hours in your next marathon or maybe tackle a ultra marathon?
- 2. Set a deadline – Add a sense of urgency to your goal by adding a specific timeframe.
- 3. Set realistic but difficult goals – Your running goals should be achievable and challenging at the same time. An unrealistic goal will kill motivation but a goal that is too easily obtained will lead to boredom.
- 4. Develop a plan – Develop a plan to achieve your running goals and then just do it! By taking the time to decide on the specific steps needed to achieve your goals, you increase your motivation and your chances of success.
Rewards can be a powerful motivator (for kids and adults alike!). Many runners who have reached their goal treat themselves to some tangible reward: a new running shirt, a sports watch, a meal at a nice restaurant, or a special trip.
Use a Training Log
Keep a training log of each run. Record times, distances, time of day, weather, and how you feel. A training log allows you to see your progress and learn from your mistakes.
Run with a Friend or Group
Running with a training partner or running group makes time fly, provides accountability, builds friendships, and provides mutual motivation on those days when you or your partner(s) just “don’t feel like it”. If you don’t know of anyone to run with or are looking for someone with a similar pace, check out your local running clubs or stores. A listing will be added to this site shortly!
Volunteer for a Race
Sign up to volunteer at your next local race. By surrounding yourself with other runners who have goals that they are achieving can be contagious and you might find yourself signing up to do the race next year or looking for some other upcoming event. In addition, races rely on the help of volunteers and some longer races even make it a requirement that you do volunteer hours.
Enter a Race
Once you sign up, you will be motivated to get prepared for it. After the race is over, the adrenaline will keep you motivated for weeks and may even spur you on to enter even more races!
Get Creative with Your Workouts
Doing the same workout day after day leads to boredom and burnout. Alter your workout routine by changing things up:
- Leave your watch at home and run for the enjoyment of it without worrying about time goals
- Change the time of day you normally run
- Find some new running routes
- Change the distance you normally run;
- Challenge yourself by adding some speed or hill repeats