How to Stay Motivated to Run

How to Stay Motivated to Run

Running is one of the most accessible and beneficial forms of exercise. It improves cardiovascular health, strengthens muscles, boosts mood, and provides a sense of accomplishment. However, it can also be challenging to stick with consistently. Lack of motivation is one of the most common reasons people stop running.

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Use these strategies to maintain the motivation you need to keep hitting the pavement and reach your running goals.

Set Realistic Goals

Setting specific, achievable targets gives your running purpose and keeps you focused. Effective running goals have a few key characteristics:

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Tailor Goals to Your Current Fitness Level

If new to running, make an initial goal to complete a 5K training plan or run 30 minutes 3 times per week. More experienced runners can aim to improve race times or increase weekly mileage. Set benchmarks appropriate for where you are starting from.

Make Goals Specific and Measurable

Quantify your goals instead of vague ideas like “get fit.” Concrete examples: run a half marathon in under 2 hours, increase weekly mileage by 10%, run 5 days per week.

Set Shorter- and Longer-Term Goals

Have some goals for this month and this year. Short term goals provide quick wins while bigger goals give long-term vision.

Schedule Regular Timed Benchmark Runs

Schedule time trials or races every 2-3 months to test and track progress towards time or distance goals. Seeing measurable results is extremely motivating.

Write Down Goals and Display Them

Post your goals where you’ll see them as a constant reminder. Tell friends and family to boost accountability.

Re-evaluate Goals Over Time

Adjust goals as your fitness improves. Goals that seemed impossible a few months ago may now be within reach.

Find a Running Buddy

Running with a partner or group keeps you accountable and makes running more fun. Here’s how to get the most from running buddies:

Recruit Friends Who Share Your Goals

Running with a friend training for the same event helps you motivate each other.

Join a Running Club or Group

Clubs provide built-in running partners. Consider charity teams too.

Schedule Regular Running Dates

Commit to specific days and times to run together each week or month. Consistency is key.

Mix Solo and Group Runs

Running alone allows focus on your specific needs, so blend into your routine.

Sign Up for Races Together

Having a race on the calendar creates shared training accountability.

Talk While Running

Conversation makes the miles go by faster while building friendship.

Make Running a Part of Your Routine

When running becomes a habit like brushing your teeth, you’re less likely to skip it. Here are tips for making running routine:

Choose Set Days and Times

Aim to run at the same time 3-5 days per week to build the habit faster.

Link Runs to Other Habits

Tie your run to an existing habit like your morning coffee to reinforce the pattern.

Create Reminders and Cues

Use phone alerts, visible shoes by the door, laid out clothes as cues to run.

Schedule It Like Appointments

Treat runs in your calendar as seriously as work meetings you’d never miss.

Prep Gear in Advance

Having items ready eliminates excuses of not being able to find things.

Note How You Feel After Runs

Recall how accomplished and energized you feel post-run to motivate getting out there next time.

Reward Yourself

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Reward Yourself

Celebrating progress along the way recognizes efforts and gives small doses of running motivation.

Build Rewards into Your Training Plan

Schedule something to look forward to each week or after key runs like new gear, a massage, or your favorite treat.

Record PRs and Milestones

Note running achievements like longest distance or new personal records to appreciate progress.

Share Successes Socially

Let people know about PRs and completed races on social media for encouragement.

Display Medals and Race Shirts

Fill a wall or rack with visual reminders of accomplishments.

Periodically Buy New Gear

Rotate in fresh shoes, apparel, gadgets to energize your running.

Relax and Recharge After Big Efforts

Reward hard efforts or races with adequate rest, recovery, and activities you enjoy. You’ve earned it!

Vary Your Runs

Monotony leads to loss of motivation over time. Adding variety makes running exciting again.

Mix Up Distances

Include short, medium and long runs each week.

Try New Routes

Explore different trails, parks, and neighborhoods. Discover new views!

Run to New Destinations

Run to a coffee shop, brewery, friend’s house, etc for your reward.

Enter Different Races

Change from road races to trail runs, etc. Vary race distances too.

Train For Different Goals

Rotate 5K and half marathon training cycles.

Run Indoors or Outdoors

Switch between treadmill and outdoor runs.

Listen to New Music, Podcasts, or Audiobooks

Find fresh audio entertainment to break the routine.

Train With Different Running Partners

Run with various groups and clubs. It keeps things lively.

Listen to Your Body

Forgetting to take rest days or pushing through minor aches can lead to overtraining, burnout, and loss of motivation.

Take At Least 1 Rest Day Per Week

Recharge muscles and energize your mind for the next run.

Know When to Call It Quits Mid-Run

End early if excessively fatigued or hurting and try again tomorrow.

Vary High and Low Intensity

Follow hard efforts with easier recovery days to avoid overdoing it.

Pay Attention to Physical Warning Signs

Heed messages like elevated resting heart rate signaling your body needs a break.

Note Mental Fatigue Too

Exhaustion, crankiness, lack of focus also indicate you need rest.

Recover Properly After Tough Runs and Races

Refuel, rehydrate, stretch, sleep and take easy days after intense efforts.

Don’t Ignore Pain or Push Through Injuries

Take time off if hurt to heal properly and avoid chronic issues.

Don’t Be Afraid to Take a Break

An extended break from running can get you excited about it again.

Use Other Forms of Exercise in the Meantime

Do cross-training like biking, swimming, or lifting weights to maintain baseline fitness.

Set a Definite Timeframe

Whether 1-2 weeks or a month, establish a set break period to prevent completely falling off.

Reflect on Your Goals

Use the time to think about your objectives and how to achieve them. Realign as needed.

Tend to Any Physical or Mental Fatigue

Let your body and mind fully recover and erase any burnout during time off.

Plan Your Return

Treat your first run back as an event to anticipate – maybe sign up for a race!

Find Inspiration

When your motivation lags, find influential stories, people, and quotes to re-energize your purpose.

Follow Motivational Instagram Accounts

Accounts of pros and everyday runners provide a boost of inspiration.

Read Books and Articles About Running

Immersing yourself in the sport sparks renewed passion.

Listen to Podcasts

Hear stories of runners overcoming challenges.

Watch Running Movies

Films covering iconic races, unique challenges, and remarkable individuals capture the spirit.

Volunteer at a Race

Being part of an event atmosphere is infectious energy.

Share Why You Run

Telling others your why reminds you of your purpose.

Keep a Running Journal

Writing regularly about your journey strengthens your connection and motivation.

Talk With Fellow Runners

Other people’s passion is contagious.

Join a Running Community

Connecting with other runners provides built-in motivation and support. Here’s how:

Become Part of a Running Club

Clubs provide training partners, social events, advice, and races to target.

Participate in Group Runs

Showing up for organized weekly group runs holds you accountable.

Join Online Forums and Groups

Connect with runners worldwide sharing tips and motivation.

Follow Running Accounts on social media

A boost of inspiration is always in your feed.

Make Running Friends

Plan meetups, shakeout runs, and coffee dates with new running friends.

Bond Over Race and Training Stories

Share the ups and downs to create connection around the sport.

Volunteer Together at Races

Giving back as a community creates camaraderie.

Track Your Progress

Seeing progress over time provides tangible proof of your gains. Here’s how:

Record Mileage Weekly or Monthly

Aim to gradually increase cumulative mileage month over month.

Log Key Workouts

Save tough sessions to demonstrate you’re stronger than weeks prior.

Enter Races Frequently

Having race results periodically shows ongoing improvement.

Take Photos After Major Races and Runs

Pictures help capture significant milestones you accomplished.

Keep a Training Journal

Writing regularly reinforces your journey and celebrates milestones.

Note Favorite Routes and New Places

Appreciate exploring new terrain – look how far you can go now!

Time Periodic Benchmark Runs

Seeing faster paces on familiar courses demonstrates real progress.

Take Care of Yourself

Caring for your overall health and wellbeing enables you to show up each day and put in the effort.

Prioritize Proper Sleep

Aim for 7-9 hours per night to allow muscles to recover and energy to be restored.

Eat Nutritious Foods

Fuel your runs with whole foods to feel and perform your best.

Stay Hydrated

Drink enough fluids daily and replace electrolytes lost while running.

Incorporate Rest and Recovery

Respect easy and off days as critical to adaptation and progress.

Address Mental Health

Seek help from professionals if feeling burned out, anxious, or depressed.

Manage Life Stresses

Running consistently is difficult with high general stress. Identify sources of stress and implement weekly relaxation practices.

Embrace Rest Days

Unplug on days off from running through activities like yoga, stretching, friends, and family time.

Stay Positive

A positive mindset sets you up for success while negativity becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Reframe thinking:

View Setbacks as Learning Experiences

Don’t dwell on a bad workout. Reflect on what you can change and focus on the next run.

Celebrate Small Wins

Note hitting even basic goals like running 3 days in one week. Progress takes time.

Stop Negative Self-Talk

Shut down that inner voice dismissing accomplishments or saying you’re not a “real” runner. Be your own cheerleader.

Prove Yourself Wrong

If you think you can’t do something like run 7 miles, do it just to override that false belief.

Focus on What Went Well

After hard efforts, reflect on positives like mental toughness gains rather than where you fell short.

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

Run your own race. What other people do has no bearing.

Be Grateful

Appreciate simply being able to run. Many people don’t have that privilege.

Don’t Give Up

You’ll face mental and physical challenges in running. Persistence and belief in yourself conquers all obstacles.

Recall Past Successes

When you feel like quitting, remember the progress you’ve made. If you’ve done it before, you can do it again.

Have a Growth Mindset

Believe you can become faster and stronger through consistent work. Skills aren’t fixed.

Focus on Doing Your Best

Making the effort is what matters. Let go of perfectionism and comparison.

Be Adaptable

Expect setbacks and be willing to adjust your plan when needed. Flexibility is key.

Trust in Your Training

Know that you’ve put in the work to achieve your goals on race day even when doubt creeps in.

Seek Support

Share challenges with others and ask for help when you need it. We all need motivation sometimes.

Remember Your Purpose

Reconnect with your core reasons for running – your why. That passion is still within you.


Running motivation ebbs and flows naturally. Using strategies like setting attainable goals, tracking progress frequently, finding inspiration from others, joining a community, and staying positive will help you stick with running when your drive decreases. But also, be kind to yourself if you need a short break. Soon, you’ll feel excited to run again consistently. Setting small, regular goals, pursuing the support and accountability of others, and believing in yourself powers you through rough patches. By making running a habit and true lifestyle, you’ll find motivation always returns. That sense of vitality and achievement from a good run awaits you!

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