6 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Run When You're Not Feeling It
You’ve got your running gear laid out, your playlist cued up, your training plan on how to run faster, and maybe you’ve even pumped yourself up with a few motivational quotes. And yet, when the time comes to start running, it feels like the last thing you really want to do.
“Everyone has been there, even elite runners,” says Certified Running Coach Kourtney Thomas, C.S.C.S. “It’s impossible to approach every run with the same high level of motivation and enthusiasm. That’s why you need to figure out what hacks work for you when you’re not feeling it but you still want to get that run.”
Next time you need some running motivation, follow these tips:
1. Revisit Your Reason
A big part of any exercise program is to think about your “why,” says Thomas. But it’s also useful to write down that reason and keep it handy. That might even be a motivational quote that resonates with you, or a drawing from your child that shows you running.
“When you just need a nudge, that reminder can be just what you need,” Thomas adds. When there’s cold weather or you’re feeling tired, that nudge can make the difference between lacing up or crashing on the couch.
2. Set Tiny Goals, One at a Time
Although large goals like training for a marathon or running every single day are useful for many people, small goals help, too. These are goals so tiny they might not even feel like a goal at all, according to Dr. Laith M. Jazrawi, M.D., orthopedic surgeon and Chief of Sports Medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center.
“Reaching even very modest goals helps your brain to recognize a victory, and that gives you a surge of reward,” he says. For instance, that might mean aiming to run to the next stop sign when you’re only about 100 feet away, even though your legs are burning and you want to stop. When trying to boost yourself to run, it could mean getting your running shoes on and making it to the end of your driveway.
“Stacking up these small goals turns into a big habit that becomes almost automatic,” says Jazrawi. “You’re training your brain as well as your body and conditioning it to help you get started.”
3. Change Your Playlist
This one seems almost too easy, and yet music is a huge motivator, says Thomas. Pick some new songs in advance that you want to hear and don’t listen to them until you’re on your run. That way, you’ll see your playlist as a reward for getting out there — and it will likely keep you running strong, too.
Learn how to use music for better workout results.
4. Slow It Down for a Workout or Two
Sprint training has its place, but don’t overlook low-intensity running. “Long slow distance” (or LSD) will always be the foundation of your running program. It helps particularly if you’re exploring a new route. Want something more scenic? Try hitting a local trail to soak in some nature. Slow miles are always better than no miles!
5. Prep Your Recovery
Let your recovery be the carrot dangling on a stick to get you through all your miles. Whether active recovery or a rest day is up next, put some thought into your after-run plan.
Just as you lay out your running clothes and have your tunes good to go, plan your recovery gear and fuel, Thomas suggests. That might be a foam roller, your post-run shake or snack, even some Epsom salts ready to throw into a post-run bath. Set out your coziest athleisure and compression socks, and get ready to get comfy!
6. Buddy Up and Join a Group
Finding a running buddy can inspire you to get out the door, so what could finding 10 running partners do? Research shows that accountability to other people can help you stick to a training plan, and could even make you improve your running efficiency. A study in the Journal of Social Sciences found that people tend to emulate the exercise behaviors of others, which is why you may do better in a group than on your own.
Can’t find one in your area? Grab your phone. Openfit Live offers running classes that make you feel part of an in-person group, and even have playlists to keep you going strong.