Running is not all about race day. Motivation is often driven by an end goal which, in the case of running is often race day.
This race day pressure is what keeps many runners out running day after day. It is what gets them up early and what pushes them out after work for those late night miles. Running sometimes becomes a journey to satisfy a training plan. I know, I have been there.
I have heard people say that they do not have the motivation to ‘just go and run’ so the pressure of the race is the drive. ‘Sign up to a 5k run. It’ll force you to go run’ How often have you heard this suggestion as a motivator to run. Whilst it works, is this the only way to find the motivation?
Race day is not the only running motivation, there are other ways to get and stay motivated.
1.Understand Your Running Motivation
Knowing why you want to run is an important factor in your running motivation. Having a vision of your desired personal outcome is what will push you out for your run.
Your goal is personal, whether it is losing weight, getting fit or running with a certain distance or pace in mind. Knowing your end goal is the most important factor in knowing how far you have come, and how far you have to go on your journey.
A part of your running motivation is keeping track of your progress. One of the great things about a written training plan is being able to cross off completed runs and seeing your own progress as you work your way through it. If you are running for weight loss, tracking your weight daily to stay in touch with your goal may be the way to go.
Relevant Reading: What Can We Learn From Ultra Trail Runners?
2.Build Your Routine
Dont leave your running up to chance, the likelihood is that run will not end up happening.
As you would if your were training for a race, make a weekly or even monthly schedule for your runs. Note them in your diary as a commitment, mental planning is great but these are also the first plans to get dropped.
Be realistic. Don’t commit yourself to more than you can do. Start small and build. If you try to take on too much the chance is you will feel like you are failing if you can’t stick to your running plan. If you start small, you can add to your plan, you will feel like you are exceeding and this will contribute greatly to your running motivation.
3.Mix it up
Running the same route, at the same pace day after day will drive you to boredom. Your run will become more of a chore than a fun challenge.
A part of your plan should be to set different run types for different days. As we have already established, having your runs in your calendar is key, in addition add the type of run, and mix it up.
Set different days in the week for different types of runs; short & fast, intervals, group run, long run, discovery run, etc.
The discovery run; change from your regular route and neighbourhood to bring variety to you run, especially on longer runs. I have a beautiful local run round a lake, but to run 3 laps to make up an 18k run becomes a little repetitive. Instead, I map out a scenic run taking in some of the sites in the city, or connecting 3 or 4 parks in my run in order to shake up the scenery and see something new.
This was a great help in keeping an element of unknown and keeping my running motivation high.
4.Gamify your runs
This can take many forms and help greatly with running motivation. Turning your runs into a game can focus on things such as pace, number of weekly runs, total weekly distance or hours run per week. Joining groups on Strava can help with this as you will compare yourself to other athletes. If you need help here, feel free to come join us in the Loop Strava group. We will be happy to give you the kudos you need.
Alternatively, turn up the fun factor by ‘gamifying’ individual runs, such as:
- Take a tally of the number of other runners you pass and subtract the number of runners that pass you. What’s your score? And is it improving week on week?
- Take the playlist challenge, this fits well with interval training. Alternate your pace between fast and slow for every song. You will be hoping for that long song to fall on your slow run.
Check out some more ideas to gamify your runs
5.Join a Running Group
Getting social whilst running is a great running motivator. If you know other people depend on you, you are more likely to show up. Finding a group with the right pace for you is important or you may find your motivation starts to vanish. This is true both if you are too fast or too slow for the group.
Make it social, we organise a weekly social run on Saturday mornings. Whilst people come run, what they are really there for (I think) is the coffee after. A chance to socialise and kick off the weekend.
Making your group run more of a social gathering adds to the experience and the motivation.
6.Don’t Force Yourself
One of the great things about not having a race date in the calendar is that it removes training plan pressure. Your run should be fun. If you are tired or you just don’t feel like it, have a rest. No one is forcing you to go out and run (That being said, sometimes the runs when you are the least motivated end up being the best).
Taking breaks is a good way to maintain your running motivation by taking time to rest your body. Be cautious though, if you start to skip runs too often you may need to re-focus on your goals.
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Jeroen is a keen runner and triathlete. With over 10 years of experience training and participating in races, simply for the joy of sport he has turned to sharing his experience through the articles he writes. As a founder at Loop Social Sport Jeroen has focused his passion on creating a community of like minded individuals who not only train together but also motivate newcomers to take up sport, whether in person or via this blog.