How to Stay Motivated as Runner – 7 Helpful Ideas

How to Stay Motivated as Runner

Are you struggling with sticking to your running plan?  Do you ever dig deep to find that extra motivation to go out for your run and instead come up empty?

Welcome to the club!  I’ve been there many times myself.

I almost get sick of reading others experiences about how they talk like running is always wonderful, and they just NEVER seem to have any trouble finding motivation to stick with their plan.

I’m not one of those people.

In fact, I struggle all the time to consistently keep working out…and I fail…often. 

For the past few years, I tend to sign up for a marathon, work out REALLY hard for the 6 months leading up to the race, and then take a “break” when it’s over.

This “break” for me has stretched into weeks and months. 

So, if you want to read about someone that runs a 2:40 marathon and runs 80+ miles every week and somehow pretend that their “motivational” words apply to you; then be my guest and read RunnersWorld.com.

However, if you want to read from someone like me that truly struggles on and off with running motivation…and probably understands EXACTLY where you are coming from, then read on my friend.

My 2014 Story

If you haven’t had a chance to read my story yet, you can do so here.  I started running several years ago as a way to get back into shape and see what my body could do.

However, I’m also someone that enjoys donuts and long binge watching sessions on the couch.  I’m also not a morning person.  I don’t get up at 5am to run, but somehow I’ve managed to finish 4 marathons over the past 4 years.

In fact, from 2011 to 2013 I managed to fend off my donut consumption habits long enough to get in great shape.  I put in A LOT of miles and was able to set a personal best marathon time of 3:32 at the Leavenworth marathon in October 2013.

Shortly after the race, I needed some time to recover.  I was happy with my personal best time, but I was also completely exhausted from all the training I had been doing.

Unfortunately, this “break” extended into several months and I packed on a few pounds.

The break at the end of 2013 extended into 2014.  I did try to make a “comeback” a couple of times throughout the year, but I never strung together more than a couple of weeks of 30 miles or more a week.

I ran a couple of races and even a half marathon in late 2014; but overall, I skipped out on running for the entire year.

As a result of this basically year long break, I put on nearly 30 pounds (from my marathon weight).  I also went from running a 1:39 half marathon in 2013 to “running” a slow marathon time of 1:57 at the end of 2014.

You’ve never put on weight or gotten slower have you?  Ok.  I must be the only one.

Why I’m Motivated Now

However, something has happened.  After an extended break in 2014 and being completed unmotivated to run, I now feel like running again in 2015.

I’ve already strung together about 8 weeks of running 30 miles or more per week this year (it’s only March), and I’ve managed to lose 10 pounds. 

Due to my new found motivation, I’ve also signed up for several races, including a couple of half marathons and a full marathon in October 2015.

I’m back!

But what happened?  Why am I so motivated to run now, and what motivational nuggets can I transfer to you?  I was looking for my motivation dust that I could sprinkle on you, but I can’t seem to find it at the moment.

How to Stay Motivated as Runner

How to Stay Motivated as Runner

To the best of my knowledge, here’s How to Stay Motivated as Runner:

  • The scale.  When I’m not running, the scale has a way of reminding me of that…constantly.  Perhaps you are like me, when you are not working out the weight comes on rather quickly.  I also know that I don’t do well with diets (see the donut comments above), so the most effective way for me to lose weight is to work out.  The most effective weight loss workout that I know of (other than wrestling with sweaters on in a heated wrestling room) is running.
  • Friends.  Having people around you that are active and enjoy running is a natural way to get your mind thinking about going out for a nice easy jog.  For good or bad, I personally have a few friends that are pretty consistent runners, which can be an effective way to stay motivated or get motivated if you’ve started taking a “break”.
  • General Health. The health benefits from running are undeniable.  Not only does the exercise help you get down to your ideal weight, but it also improve heart efficiency and lung capacity.  There are also plenty of other health benefits that people have written about for years.  Overall, if you find living longer much of a motivator; exercise can help your general health tremendously.
  • Health of my Family. I’m married with 4 children and I want all of us to live long and healthy lives.  However, if the precedent gets set that our household is a lazy, donut eating household, that a pattern that will carry on into my children’s lives.  So, if I want my family to be healthy, I need to set the example.  This is the likely the same for you.  If you want others around you to be healthy, you can inspire them by lacing up those running shoes and leading by example.  This can be a big motivator.
  • Events. If I sign up for an event, I participate in it.  That’s just the way it goes.  And if I’m going to participate in an event, I don’t want to get last place…so I usually prepare for it.  As a result, a sure fire way to get myself motivated to run is to sign up for events throughout the year.  In fact, this year, I’ve already signed up for 8 races.  As a result, I know that I need to at least be in good enough shape to not embarrass myself at these events in front of thousands of people.  I cannot emphasize how well this has worked for me.  So, when you are feeling like, “Yeah, maybe I should sign up for that race!”…you should do it!  And maybe sign up for a few more throughout the year while you are at it.
  • Setting Goals. The name of this blog is “Runner’s Goal” for a reason.  When I have something concrete to shoot for, it’s motivating and rewarding to achieve those goals!  I set goals to achieve a certain weight, finish certain races, or achieve personal best times in different distances.  Any or all of these types of goals can keep you motivated throughout the year.  If you need a quick reminder of the most effective way to set goals, you can get a refresher on SMART goals here.
  • Running Community.  Seeing other runners at events and out on the trails is motivating.  This helps you feel part of a larger group of people all working hard towards their individual goals.  This community isn’t just at events either, there is a very live and vibrant community online that you can connect with in lots of places.  You can definitely stay in touch with me and others on our Runner’s Goal Facebook page.  However, there are plenty of forums and groups at places like RunnersWorld Forums and DailyMile.com.
  • Lack of alternative workouts
  • Watch or Read a Running Movie or Book.

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