Motivation can be an elusive thing. Some days, I get home from work and cannot wait to put my running shoes on. I literally hit the ground running. Other days, I get home and see the couch and there is no chance I’m going to make it out the door. It happens to everyone, and I hear it frequently (especially from parents and people who have more constraints on their time). How can you stay motivated to run, or get your motivation back?
Whether it’s the occasional day where you just plain don’t feel like it, or getting back to running after months or years away, here are my surefire ways to get back your lost motivation to run.
This is my favorite way to handle the occasional “I-don’t-feel-like-running” scenario. The idea is to make your brain and your body so ready to run that there’s no way you can resist. For example, on those days when I just do NOT feel like getting up, and I have no reason to stay inside, but no motivation to go outside, I go and put on my running clothes. I do everything I normally do to go run. Then I sit down on the couch and turn off any distractions I have. And that’s it. I just sit there until my body and my brain get so bored, and are so ready to run, that eventually the motivation comes—if for no other reason than I am just sick of sitting there and need to get it over with so I can come back to eat and lie on the couch. This trick can be aided by a good workout soundtrack. Who can be in running clothes, listening to “Eye of the Tiger,” sitting on a couch? No one! The only time I have heard of this not working is in the event of the strategist falling asleep. Beware of naps.
Watch a Flick
I love to watch incredible sports stories to get inspired before a race. This strategy also works great to get the spark back when you and running have decided to see other people. My first suggestion is always Rocky (I am “Yo Adrienne” after all), but you can also look to classics like Forrest Gump, and Chariots of Fire. Check out our list of the Best Running Documentaries to Keep you Motivated for other movie recommendations.
Also, here’s our list of the best running movies on Netflix.
Read a Book
Revisit Past Victories
I’m cheesy, and I’m a craft nut. This means, of course, that I have an extensive running scrapbook with clips, photos, and bibs from my past races. I can’t flip through the pages and see those finish line photos, pics with my fitness friends, and notes from my former self and not be motivated to get out and run. If you don’t have a record of your running history, think back to your own victorious moments, or take time to revisit other kinds of victories you’ve had. Achievement feels good, and those memories will surely motivate you to get moving again.
There’s a great story about visualization at Elite Daily. In it, a Kung Fu master visualizes fighting a beast, the ways he could win, and the ways he would surely be defeated. After considering all of the possibilities and visualizing them, he’s no longer afraid of the tiger keeping him from walking the path to get supplies, and he’s able to defeat the animal without fear. This is not the only time I have heard the powerful benefits and possibilities of visualization. If nothing is keeping you from running, take some time to visualize it. Think about running a race, achieving a distance, or just the feeling of being in love with running again. Give yourself some time to imagine all of the sensations you get from a great run, and be prepared to get your motivation back!
Register for a Race
I just got done with my first marathon. It was a huge achievement for me, and a big, brilliant check mark on my bucket list. Since I started running two years ago, I have always had a race on the horizon to keep me motivated. I usually have a following run scheduled before I cross the finish line of the one before it. So…now what? How do I get motivated to keep running when I don’t have a convenient schedule to follow, with my paces and distances mapped out for me? I need to register for another race before I succumb completely to my crunchberry addiction! I am going to find the perfect follow-up to my first marathon. It might be a spring triathlon as a brand new kind of challenge, or just another marathon to keep me motivated through the winter, but committing to a future race keeps me motivated to exercise every day.
Borrow Some Motivation
Sometimes the easiest way for me to get motivated is to look to other people who have overcome obstacles. When I am not feeling motivated, I talk to fellow runners in online running groups, at My Fitness Pal, or in person. I ask people for advice, talk about tips that I have, and just reconnect with running. We chat about struggles, race horror stories, chafing—the usual. It helps rekindle the excitement of running and makes me want to get going!
And if All Else Fails…
If you have tried everything to get motivated and you are still finding that you don’t want to run, you have basically got two options. You can take a break and set a date to formulate a new plan when you feel refreshed, or you can force yourself. Seriously! You have control of your body and you can just plain make yourself run. Go out for an untimed, unplanned run with your favorite music in your favorite neighborhood and put on a big fake smile. Greet every person that you see. Wave at passing cars. Take a picture of yourself and your big fake smile running like a BOSS and post it to Facebook. I have done all of these things to cope with not being motivated, and sometimes those runs turn out to be my best!
This article was written for RunnersGoal.com by Adrienne A., a guest author