There are plenty of moments in every runners’ life – multiple times, I might add – when you can’t wait to go for a run. You feel pumped, you’re energized and your body is in just the right shape physically/mentally to complete a trek that makes you feel amazing inside and out. If you ask most runners what gets them going and what actually kick-starts their mood to head out the door, it may be our obligation to train for a race, knowing how you’ll feel afterward, or it may be the pure discipline we have over our mentality. Yes, I can testify that it’s satisfying to find the perfect pace on the perfect day with the perfect conditions – feeling like we’re soaring over the road – and finishing a refreshing run that unleashed our stress, making us feel accomplished.
What about those days when you really don’t want to get out of bed and you can’t even picture sliding into your running shoes. And what about those days when you’ve worked long hours, your spirit has been crushed by strenuous projects and you have anxiety about getting enough sleep to function? Those are just a couple of factors that can demotivate you from heading out on a run.
Despite the fact that we’re runners because all of the sensations – chemically, physically and mentally – do so many positive things for us, we can’t always push away those moments that are less than enthusiastic.
How can you find the motivation to run and get going when times get tough? Some solutions are all in your head and others take a little more and dedication to get the gears in motion!
Get Real About Why You Have No Motivation
Most experts will suggest a list of ways to generate motivation to get out on run, including common sense ideas – like create a schedule for yourself or whip together a list of new running tunes that will pump you up for your run.
Before you put actions into place and force or drag yourself outside, get down to the nitty-gritty of your “problems”. One way to nip your discouraging demeanor in the bud is to get out a pen and paper and write down what’s stopping you from running. Is it weather related? Work-related? Are you facing health issues that may worsen if you’re too active? Are you in unfamiliar territory somewhere away from home that makes a new trek somewhat out of sorts?
There are a slew of “excuses” we make and then there are real valid reasons for being unmotivated and not wanting to go out on a run. The first and most important thing you need to do is be honest with yourself about why you’ve lost the thrill to get up and get out.
If the factors stopping you from heading out the door are all in your head and you can’t go running because you’re busy thinking about how to deal with a problem, train yourself to realize that you can go running and deal with these issues at the same time! You may not feel like running when you’re going through a lot emotionally because you may feel drained, which leads to a lack of overall energy as well.
Another important thing to do is forgive yourself if you can’t find the motivation to run because you’re facing a physical barrier or challenge. Maybe you’re getting over a virus or head cold. Even though your body may be craving exercise, listening to your immune system is more important when it comes to being healthy enough for physical activity and not relapse.
You may also have no choice if you can’t run – or get discouraged from running – because of your professional life/obligations. These days, many of us don’t have spare time in the morning or evening to utilize for running. If this is the case, again, sit down with a calendar and consciously acknowledge those days when you will have an hour to dedicate to running. Overworking yourself and not having “me time” to replenish your energy can result in burnout, unnecessary fatigue and loss of energy.
No matter what reason you have deep down for not hitting the pavement, it helps to look at the reality of your inner battles and take control over your actions.
Trick Yourself Into Going For A Run
A few winters ago, I was completely discouraged from running due to the frigid temperatures and months of waiting for daylight savings so that I could run after 7 p.m. and still see the sun! It felt shameful and sad to be defeated by the elements and I’d taken many breaks from running for months at a time – until the guilt set in!
One of the ways I battled this wave of feeling unmotivated was going for a simple walk along the trail I usually ran. But I also tricked myself into thinking it was just going to be a walk! Sporting my athletic gear and tunes, I told myself that I’d take a brisk walk along the highway, no pressure and no challenge set to how many miles I could conquer.
For some reason, somehow, I’d “tricked myself” into running, because once I was out on the path and taking in the scenery, I felt a jolt of energy, inspiration and a connection to the road. Sometimes, hitting your old running trail just for leisure reminds you that running isn’t always about forcing yourself to go out and give it everything you’ve got. You can also trick yourself into going on a run by telling yourself you’re just going outside to take some photos of the sunrise, sunset or to capture some scenes around your neighborhood. Once you’re out there, get a slow run going and don’t pressure yourself to finish in a certain time at a specified pace.
One of the reasons runners might feel unmotivated to get out the door to begin with is that psychologically, we may have already thought of a challenge for ourselves that we don’t want to feel pressured to complete. This may make us feel tired before we even left the house! Instead of having a long run planned in your mind, go out for fun and fresh air and then see if you feel like taking on the road without the pressure of finishing a certain mileage within a certain time.
This method can lead to the next solution for finding your way out of that hole of uncertainty!
Lower Your Expectations
Yeah, you heard me – lower those expectations!
Hardcore runners constantly have to push themselves to go for long runs, hit their targeted pace, strength train and keep their pulse recorded to get the most out of their trek. If you’re just “not feeling it,” stop pressuring yourself to go for a serious run in an effort to challenge your skills/techniques and stamina.
When you lower your athletic expectations, such as simply running 1 mile instead of 6 (for some this is like tasting a teaspoon of cake when you want a whole slice!), you’re mentally “lowering the bar” on the pressure you feel to force yourself to get out there.
Believe it or not, you can run one mile every day and it will be sufficient enough to keep your body active and engaged until you’re ready to pick up more mileage as you gain more motivation. Sometimes, if you’re laying on the couch and think about the strain you’ll be enduring on a long run of 10 miles or more, all you need is to set the bar lower and stop forcing yourself to take on as many miles as you would on your best days.
You might very well find that after you’ve only done 1 mile, you want to keep going!
Stretch It Out
Some runners will tell you that they feel the least motivated to go out on a run when their bodies aren’t feeling quite “with it” and they’re not in shape to get their motors going.
It’s true – getting the motivation to run is almost like giving a good old fashioned pull on the rusty chain of a lawn mower to get the motor started! Our bodies sometimes operate in the same fashion, we need to have a starting point to get our internal motors going to feel “ready” for more physical activity.
Feeling tired, stressed and lazy can be a downer! All you may need is a few good stretches to remind your body that it craves a run!
Just start with some simple moves, touching your toes, extending your arms and legs and doing some windmill stretches. Once you get your blood circulating, you may start to feel more alive! Of course, your daily movements and steps are completely different from consciously targeting certain muscles.
Depending on what time of day it is and how much running you need motivation for, your energy level may be different. If you have time to run in the morning but still feel flat, practice stretching for 10 minutes and warm up your muscles/nerves. A few yoga stances may also assist in getting you going. You may feel more apt to run after you’ve pulled the proverbial motor to kickstart your body into workout mode. When your body remains stagnant for long periods of time, it’s harder to get motivated to do much else.
Hence why the saying is true “a body in motion, stays in motion” – so put it to use!
Good Company Makes For Good Running!
Time and time again, you’ll hear from athletes and experts that running with others is great motivation to get off the couch and get back in the game.
This is a foolproof way to make sure that you’re held accountable for your laziness because when others are expecting you to join them on a run, you’re much more likely to grab your gear and go! You don’t want to let your fellow runners down – and if you join a running group or team, you’re more likely to feel like you have a support system on your side, especially on those days when you have a case of the blahs.
In my experience, joining a running group at least once a week helps foster motivation. When I know I have to be somewhere with others who shared my passion, it inspired me to push myself on a weekend morning when I would usually sleep in and skip going on a run!
If it helps, running with others in a non-competitive fashion may prove to work even better since you’re not feeling pressured (as already mentioned) to cross a finish line in a certain time. The great thing about the running community is that we’re all supportive of each other and have the ability to motivate each other – no matter how fast or slow we tend to be!
You Snooze, You May Not Lose!
It’s a given that running is an activity which requires energy – even if you’re only going a couple of miles. Harnessing that energy means you need to get enough sleep and feel refreshed enough to want to go for a run. If your excuse for not running as often as you’d like is because you’re tired – mentally or physically – carve out ample time to get more sleep and try getting to bed at an earlier time every night if your work or school hours allow this flexibility. Some people need more rest than others, but if you’re clearly a zombie and can’t get your body moving, maintaining that lethargic feeling is all it takes to pass up a great run.
The Basics Of Staying Focused
There’s a laundry list of standard ways to get and stay motivated when it comes to sticking to your passion. Whether you make a routine for yourself that helps you stay on track or change up your running habits by making a new playlist to trek to, getting motivated can be as simple as changing your attitude and remembering why you began running in the first place.
As long as you stay committed and reap the benefits of being a runner, you’re on the right track to a fit life and you may even help others get motivated too! Happy trekking!