Kyle is the writer behind The Travel Runner. He’s a full-time traveler and adventurer who’s visited over 20 countries, including places like Thailand, Mexico, Vietnam, and Albania. He prefers a slower pace to his travels to explore destinations more in-depth and to get a feel for what life is actually like there. When he’s not writing, he’s usually off exploring trails with his fiancée, Kaitlyn.
Discover 13 powerful ways to get motivated as a runner. If you’re struggling with how to motivate yourself to run, these tips will help you get out the door!
Putting on your shoes and suddenly your legs feel heavy?
Know you need to go on your run but can feel a weight pulling you away from your running shoes?
Having inner talks with yourself, reasoning about how you’ll go on a longer run tomorrow to “make up for it”?
If all these sound familiar, you’re not alone. Runners worldwide struggle with running motivation and often can’t explain why. It’s tough to get back into it.
The good news? There are ways to overcome your lack of motivation for running. And I’m here to share 13 of them with you.
So, let’s save time and dive right in.
13 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Run
1. Set clear goals
Your goal doesn’t have to be to compete in the Olympics.
Running to stay healthy, improve your time, or finish a race are all great goals for running. Whatever gets you out the door and helps you stay motivated to train.
Plus, having a running goal helps you track your progress. You can track weight loss, run an extra 30 minutes, or finish a tough race in a great time! Seeing your progress is a big hit of dopamine that keeps you motivated to stick with it. And sometimes that’s all we need!
Every runner is unique in their goals. So find yours.
2. Try new routes
Running your usual route and seeing the same sights repeatedly gets boring.
But new, fresh scenery? Brings motivation running back almost immediately!
So, switch up your regular route. Try going to an area you don’t go to. You can use tools like the Strava Heatmap and AllTrails to help you find new routes. You can also start from your house and see where your feet take you! Wander down new roads and become familiar with unfamiliar areas.
Or, if you’re a road runner, try trail running. If you’re a trail runner, try road running. Road running vs. trail running is one of the biggest debates, but both help!
3. Find your “why”
This and your goals may sound similar, but they’re not.
Your goals for running change as you progress. But, your “why” always stays the same.
For example, your “why” could be your children. You know they look up to you as a role model, and you want to set a positive example for them through running. Or it’s your way of dealing with mental challenges or trauma, and running helps you feel better. Whatever it is, it’s your “why.”
And when you have a reason to run, your source of motivation becomes obvious.
4. Reward yourself
There’s a misconception that runners are the healthiest people in the world.
And, in my experience, that may be the furthest thing from the truth! As runners, we love to reward ourselves.
Sure, people on social media talk about how they cut out sweets, alcohol, and somehow even oxygen. And it’s had HUGE improvements in their running. But for ordinary people, there’s nothing better than a greasy pizza and a beer after a run.
What am I even talking about here? I’m talking about rewarding yourself!
The quickest way to hate something is to remove everything you enjoy. So if you like some ice cream after a run, get yourself a scoop! If you like to game, then get your run out of the way and fire up the console to slay the sticks. Whatever your reward system is, find it and stick to it.
It’s important to celebrate your accomplishments — big and small. Otherwise, it becomes a grind, and you’ll grind yourself down.
5. Create a running routine
Some people only need a schedule, and they’re set.
Creating a running schedule is the perfect option if you’re one of those people. And it gives you a way to track yourself week after week!
Some tips to help begin your running program:
- Plan to run at a time that’s best for you (do you prefer morning runs or runs in the evening?)
- Sit your shoes next to your door for a run (this is a mental trick to help yourself)
- Find a local running club that runs at the same time as you (more on this in a bit)
This, plus any tricks that help you personally, go a long way toward helping you get motivated for a run. Or start a training plan to do the hard work for you.
Either way, following a training schedule helps get things back on track.
6. Shop for running gear
Let’s discuss a side of running that many don’t include here.
And that’s new gear. After all, how do you not have motivation while you have a shiny new pair of running shoes in front of you? Even people who never run would have difficulty not putting them on and going for a jog!
It doesn’t have to be shoes, though. A new hat, running clothes, or a simple pair of socks can motivate you to run.
Just don’t go overboard with your purchases. You still have to do some actual running!
7. Leave notes around your house
We’ve all seen it in the movies.
The actor closes the bathroom mirror, and the camera focuses on a bright yellow sticky note on the mirror — a not-so-subtle reminder to do what you need to do.
But it does work. The small reminders of your goal, “why,” or an upcoming race all give you a slight boost of motivation. And that may be all you need to get back into your groove. Search out the places you’d see them most. Bathroom mirrors, computer screens, and your fridge door are great choices. Then paste a message, a simple reminder, or even a fun drawing!
Sometimes you keep things simple, and they work!
8. Run with other people
Seriously lacking a desire to run?
Find some friends who love running, and that’ll change. Running with a group is a great way to recharge your batteries.
You’re no longer in your head, dreading each step you take while you count down how many miles you have left. Now, you’re chatting it up with others, laughing, and the miles fly by without realizing it. You have such a runner’s high and often don’t want the run to end!
So, join a running group or club and get your motivation back. Training partners are an excellent way to make running fun again.
9. Shorten your runs
If running feels like a chore, there’s no reason to force yourself through it every time.
Sometimes, you need to fight the doubt and negativity and push through. But other times, you need to listen to yourself and cut it short.
So, shorten that six-mile run to three. Or cut off one or two of the repeats from your speed workout. Either way, give yourself some rest so you don’t feel burnt out. When you’re constantly pushing, it’s easy to feel like you need a break. And that’s okay.
Even if you get out for 10 minutes, you still did something. And that’s better than no run at all.
10. Sign up for a race
Nothing like putting a challenging event in your future to get the motivation juices flowing, huh?
I’ve often done this when I’ve been stuck in a rut. Like a car trying to start, it seemed like I was starting before I’d fall off again.
So, throw a race in there I have to train for, and that’ll fix it. And it usually does. The excitement of a race gives you a boost to help get your running shoes on your feet faster.
So if you have a race (like a half marathon or marathon) you’ve been eyeing in the future, give it a go!
11. Listen to something
Does your mind run through how boring your run is and how you could be doing other things?
Well, you’re not wrong. So throw in some fun or education to your runs.
Whether it’s music, trail running podcasts, or audiobooks, listening to something helps. And it gives you something to look forward to.
I love history, and it’s hard to find time to learn more. So, my runs became my time to listen to history — podcasts, audiobooks, interviews. And I started to look forward to my runs even more! You could even throw in a running book if you really like to run. I recommend The Rise of Ultra Runners by Adharanand Finn.
You don’t have to learn anything. But bringing along your favorite music or a good book is a great way to make yourself want to run again.
12. Try a different exercise
Cross-training is the perfect way to get your motivation back.
An alternate sport is perfect for the days I don’t feel like running. So I’ll play basketball, do some yoga, hike, or try Muay Thai!
And you can do the same with other sports you enjoy. You’ll feel much better trying out something else than forcing another run. Plus, the fact that you’re exercising still helps your endurance!
Your body and mind will thank you for the break.
13. Just do it
This advice is counter to most things I’ve told you above.
Sometimes, you just have to do it. Go for a run and see how it goes. Enough fussing and excuses. Get your shoes on, and put one foot before the other.
I’ve had countless runs where I started wanting to do anything but the run. Then, it’s like a spell came over me. I began to enjoy the run, a smile came across my face, and I felt light! And, to be honest, I’ve never started and then regretted a run.
Sometimes the runs that start the worst end up as your best. And you won’t know unless you give them a chance.
So, lace up your shoes and start running. If you still don’t want to do it, turn around.
But getting started is sometimes all you need.
So, did these tips help you get motivated to run?
It’s not easy to get out of a running rut.
But with these tips to get motivated again, they’ll hopefully have you on the right path to stay motivated to run. And don’t be discouraged. Plenty of things get in the way and make it hard to get back into it.
The good thing is you’re trying!