By Tianna Marshall
Ever feel like you’re losing the motivation to run? Don’t worry you’re not alone. It seems to be a very common thing amongst runners throughout their running careers. I for one, have been running for 15 years and have struggled with staying motivated over time, but have found ways to help keep my motivational mind set. When we first start running it is easier for us to stay motivated because it was our first-time training for something, we didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into and we aren’t out to beat PRs since they haven’t been set yet. It is also easier to stay motivated for the next few big races after your first. You now have that PR to chase which requires you to change up your workouts. But what do you do when you’re five years into running and start to get bored of it? Other than always wanting to chase breaking your PRs, you can try many things to solve your motivational blues.
I started running marathons in 8th grade, so it was easier for me to stay motivated longer than a lot of adults. Every season I had new teammates which really kept me going, besides being young and having the “I’m invincible mindset”. Obviously most long-distance runners don’t start at such a young age but being a part of a running group is a great way for anyone when it comes to staying motivated. It’s nice to be around people who understand the runner’s mindset and keep each other going. Being a part of a running group or just having a few friends to run with always gives you something to look forward to. If you’re not having a great running day, they’ll be there to help get you through it, plus someone else usually makes the route so you don’t have to think about that. After I graduated high school, I became a coach for the running program I started with. Being a coach really helped keep me motivated because I got to help people achieve the same goal I had when I first started running. Now coaching isn’t for everyone, but if someone were to ask you to help them train for a race, I’d take the opportunity and help them. Helping someone can really bring out the joy of running you may not have realized was missing. Imagine training someone to accomplish this goal that you had at one point in your life. Seeing someone else succeed with your help is extremely motivational because it can bring you back to the time when you first started this journey.
If guiding someone isn’t something you are interested in, you can try switching up your routine by adding more cross training. Cross training is very helpful for runners in many ways because you build muscle in areas you may not while running and you’re breaking up that cycle of constantly thinking “I need to do this many miles this day, this day and this day, along with these workouts”. The cross training gives you something new to look forward to. I personally love to mountain bike, swim, hike and kayak. You can really do anything active and it can bring those endorphins you get from a run; you just get to experience it doing something else.
Continuing on the track of changing up your routines, try finding new places to run. Running the same routes every week starts to get boring. If you live near trails, I highly recommend giving trail running a try. Being out in nature away from the world changes running more than people know. The difficulty of trails is awesome as well, because they can help with those PRs. You can also give race challenges a try. A lot of major races are getting into “challenge medal” mode. You could be that person who likes the extra bling so signing up for these challenges bring new goals into your life. You can try different race distances you’ve never really raced before. If you only race marathons try racing a half, 10k or get extra crazy and try an ultra. If you only race halves maybe try a marathon or if you’re a 5k-10k runner move up to the half. Focusing on different race distances require different training and a different mindset for each distance you go up.
If you’re just completely drained with little motivation there’s the dreaded “break” most long-distance runners don’t enjoy taking. A break doesn’t mean no running, you can run short distances to keep your endurance up, but you aren’t completely exhausted from hardcore training year-round. Taking breaks can boost your motivation because you’re craving to get back to that race training and your body has more time to recover. Now breaks can also be frustrating depending on how long you take them. if you take a longer break don’t get mad at yourself for not being exactly where you left off, it’ll take a little bit of time to get back to your peak endurance performance, but you will get there.
Now let’s say you reached a point in your life where you just want to run for fun, not chase PRs and all the above motivational ideas aren’t something that will work for you, you can run for a cause. Running for charities is extremely rewarding and knowing you’re out there making a difference in someone’s life because you’re doing something you love is one of the ultimate motivational things to do.
Lastly, if you’re just struggling to get out the door once in a while, my favorite thing to do is look at my first race and marathon medal. Those two medals have a huge impact on my life and reminds me of where I started, why I started and all the hard work I put into earning them and that is definitely motivating!