Running, short or long distances requires motivation. Even if you are a long distance racer, the short distances in your weekly routine can be made out to be insignificant as you justify to yourself that missing it will have no negative impacts on your training. Or a runner who is always doubting that they will finish the distance might talk themselves into stopping once a shorter distance is completed. So what do you do when you lack that motivation during the activity? How do you stay motivated when running and what are the things you can do to stay focused. Let’s take a look at a few of those things.
Switch Up the Run
Get creative with your run and cut the monotony of the same path you always run. If you are planning on getting your normal 5 miles in on your normal course, then there will be many times that you just lose interest while on the same path. If you know the area well enough, veer off course and take a different route. This can be something that you prepare for ahead of time, having multiple different routes depending on how you are feeling. This will lend itself to be easier to do in some running environments than others, but it is an option to alleviate the boring nature of the same ole run. Change of scenery and focusing on that can be beneficial if you are someone that enjoys visuals during a run. Some runners will find this as a way to actually motivate themselves to run further, as you can run out in a new direction, knowing full well that you will have to run back to your starting point.
Visualize the steps of the run, setting mini goals or milestones along the run. Taking on a long run can seem overwhelming as you start out and when you are feeling the pain with 75% percent of the run left, it can get a bit discouraging. Breaking down the run into smaller sections (whether using distances or locations along the way), can seem far less of a daunting task. But constantly looking at your watch or phone to see the distance left can also leave you discouraged. Another option is with the use of your music. Can you break the run down into number of songs left? This is another way that you can get lost in thinking about something other than how the body feels with the activity.
Concentrate on your form. If you have had the liberty of training with a coach or simply run with a partner and conversed about form, you likely know what your downfalls are when it comes to your personal form. Concentrating on these things rather that how tired or sore you are, can snap you back into the run giving you motivation to finish. When running alone this will give you something to focus on and will likely take the majority of your concentration. This should be done with more frequency than most runners do, as practice makes for habit. This will benefit you as a runner and achieving your goals to increase speed and distance with less effort put in.
Like having multiple routes, having different options when listening on your headphones can also help you get out of the same rut, run after run. Have multiple playlists of varying genres to encompass each of the ways you could be motivated during your runs. Upbeat songs in your favorite genre will likely be a normal for most runners, but feelings for the day can change and you will need to be prepared with multiple playlists. Additionally, if you like to listen to podcasts while running, take the same approach with having multiple genres or topics. Alternating between music and talk radio can also eliminate another element of a mundane run.
Without having to focus on your electronics, there could be a sense of just understanding your individual performance during a run. With this approach, you will not track your speeds or focus on how well you are performing while you are running. You will focus on your running, the environment, and listen to your body. Opposite of listening to entertainment during a run, there is a thought that you disconnect from the music and talk radio and just enjoy the sounds of the environment, lost simply in your thought. Leave the electronics at home and run like those old timers did back in the day. You will likely know the distance and time, but remove it from your every thought during your run.
Thinking about where you’ve been and where you’ll end up, is another way to disconnect from the run and focus on your thoughts and emotions. This is as simple as thinking about life: what you have to do and how you will get it done or where you want to go in life and how you will get there. Save your thoughts for your run and kill two birds with one stone. Distract yourself from the run and plan your life at the same time. This can also be about reminding yourself why you are running, what your goals are, and how your current workout is all for that. The current pain and struggles of the run can be motivation itself.
Motivation can come from both external and internal resources. You will find those things discussed above can help you at different points during your training and are not limited as such. This list is not all-inclusive, but you may find that all of them help you in some way. Be encouraged to try these if you haven’t already and see what works best for you. Additionally, voice your opinions in forums like this and share what you used to stay motivated when running. You may find that others experience the same things that work to motivate you or find that your processes of motivation will help someone else.