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.
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:
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!