If you don’t know why you’re running, it’s hard to stay motivated. If you feel your passion waning, ask yourself why you started running in the first place, says Martise Moore, a running coach and the founder of GreenRunnerLA.com. Maybe you wanted to improve your stamina, clear your mind, run for a specific cause, or just try something new. “Write down all the reasons and stick them up by the front door. Now, your next run will be bigger than your excuses,” Moore says. You can also motivate yourself to run by thinking about how you’ll feel after your run. “Before I run, I always remember how amazing I’ll feel after, how my mood and creativity improves, and how connected I feel with my body, mind, and nature,” says Idalis Velazquez, Beachbody’s 30 Day Breakaway program creator and a former elite and D1 track and field athlete. “These benefits always keep me coming back for more,” she says.
If the prospect of running solo feels draining or intimidating, try joining a running club or scheduling a workout date with a friend. Running with other people means you’ll have someone to laugh with, commiserate with, and challenge you to push yourself. Plus, scheduling a run with another person provides built-in accountability. “Having a solid network of training partners and running buddies makes consistency much more doable,” says Velazquez.
Instead of running the same neighborhood loop, try switching it up, Velazquez says. If you’re accustomed to running on pavement, head to a grassy park for a run. Or if you always run dirt trails, mix it up with a track workout. Running new terrain is a good way to challenge your muscles and stave off running burnout. It’s also a good idea to vary your intensity, speed, and distances, too, says Velazquez. Changing your workouts helps break up the monotony of your usual running routine.
Sometimes, the best running motivation is rest. If you feel physically exhausted or emotionally drained from running, you may need a break. “Listen to your body and don’t be afraid to take a day or two off,” Velazquez says. Moore agrees — “Rest is an essential component for growth. Frequent breaks help the body heal and grow stronger,” she says, replenishing you so you can feel even better on the next run.
If you like structure and routine, following a training schedule can help you stay motivated and committed to your runs. “A training plan helps you prepare mentally and logistically, so you’re not wasting energy trying to figure out what to do and where to go. You just show up and run,” says Moore. To build a basic training plan, start by choosing the number of days a week you want to run, as well as how much time you want to run for, Moore says. From there, you can create workouts based on your current fitness level and goals.
“Rewarding yourself in the running process can help you stay motivated,” Velazquez says. Depending on what time you plan to run during the day, try motivating yourself with the promise of your favorite breakfast, a latte on the way to work, a glass of wine with dinner, or an evening binge-watching a new TV show. Having something to look forward to after your run can help you find the energy to lace up and get out the door.
Nothing gets you motivated to run like signing up for a race. A race gives you something to work toward and look forward to. Plus, “having a race training schedule is one of the best ways to spark intention and clarity for individual runs,” Moore says. To set yourself up for success, choose a distance and course that will challenge you, but not completely overwhelm you. If you’ve never run longer than a 5K, for example, you may not want to sign up for a marathon just yet. Most importantly, make sure the race sounds fun, either because of the location, the cause, or the atmosphere. You’ll be much more motivated to train for an event you genuinely want to participate in.
It’s easy to come up with excuses not to run, but what if you started using running as your excuse to do something else you’ve been curious about? You might want to try using a heart monitor during a cardio workout, for example, or maybe you’re dying to listen to a popular true-crime podcast. Or maybe you’ve been itching to sample the espresso from the new coffee shop on the corner. Running is a great excuse to indulge your other interests and passions. Go on a run to test out your new workout gear, listen to a juicy audiobook, or explore a part of town you’re not familiar with.
Learning about running — whether through a book, documentary, or podcast — doesn’t just help you appreciate it more, it’s also a good way to discover running tips and tricks. There are countless running-related films, books, and articles to get you motivated to run. Moore’s favorite running documentary is “The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats Its Young.” She also recommends the book”Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall, which she says inspired her to start running longer distances. Velazquez has a few favorite running books, including: “Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance” by Alex Hutchinson, “Once a Runner” by John L. Parker Jr., and”Running with the Kenyans” by Adharanand Finn. For movie inspiration, she recommends films like “4 Minute Mile,” “Free to Run,” “From Fat to Finish Line,” and “Brittany Runs a Marathon.”
“External challenges can be a powerful motivator,” Velazquez says. She suggests setting a goal for each run, like finishing your usual route 30 seconds faster or running a quarter-mile longer than normal. Make sure you track your goals and results along the way, either on paper or using a workout app. “Tracking your progress reminds you of everything you are accomplishing and how much you are improving,” Velazquez says, which can keep you motivated on hard days.