Even if the weather is just right, your running shoes are new and you’re feeling inspired, it can be hard to start generating some running motivation (or keep it going). So what’s the secret? What are the best ways to keep running and not give up?
Today we’re sharing what works for us when battling with our inner selves before or during a run. Getting your running motivation isn’t easy but hopefully you find some help with these tips. Admittedly, some of these may be a bit strange. But for us, they work so it felt like they were worth sharing.
Tips for Motivation to Go for a Run
The act of getting your running shoes on and out the door can feel impossible at first. But just like the habit of brushing your teeth is second nature to you, running can also become a natural habit too! Forming habits takes time though, so we have a couple of running motivation tips to get you out the door and forming that habit.
For the most efficient way to get you consistently doing something, we suggest using science. So here are a couple of ways we know that have been proven to help you get motivated to run!
#1: Treat yo self
Say you want to get in the habit of going on a 20 minute run but you just aren’t feeling it. Bribe yourself.
Tell yourself that if you run for “X” amount of time or distance, then you get “Y”. For example, if you go on the run today, then you can justify the fancy cup of coffee on your way into work. No run means no fancy coffee though. Save your reward for finishing runs ONLY. This way, your running motivation will always be linked to that fancy coffee.
This reward style behavior is illustrated more in depth with Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit. If you’ve never read this book, reading it might be the added motivation you need to get after your goals!
#2: Use the help of a science based app
Creating a habit takes time, which can feel tiring. Why not recruit the help of an app to reach your running goals?
Moderately Fit has created a habit forming app that uses a simple scientific method to get you to meet your goals. With the app, you invest money that you can earn back if you complete your fitness habit daily. If you don’t work towards your goal one day? You lose your money to the community. All you have to do each day, is submit proof via text meesage that you completed your goal for that day. Each day that you complete your habit, you earn your money back and some from the community too.
Investing in your health is beneficial for so many reasons. Why not invest in yourself and your habits with this habit forming app?
#3: Change your environment
I recently read the popular book ‘Finding Flow’ where the author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi talks about activation energy. What the author illustrates is the idea that if you have a particular behavior you want to achieve, it will be easier (or harder) to achieve it depending on how much energy you have to put into it.
Csikszentmihalyi would say the best way to get to your goal would be to change your environment in a way that requires you to use the least amount of activation energy. For example, if you wanted to eat better, stock your fridge and pantry with the types of foods you want to consume. This way, you have less temptation around you and therefore it takes less energy to say “no” to those enticing foods.
The more you change your environment, the less energy you have to exert when it comes time to work on your habit. So could you apply this to running? Absolutely! Join a running club so that it is harder to say no to running one day. Or why not just sleep in your running clothes so you can literally roll out of bed and head on your run?
Tips for Motivation During a Run
There are many a way to attack your running motivation, especially during a run. The list below highlights our top six favorites in detail. But let’s start off the discussion with distraction.
The main over arching takeaway here is to basically do whatever you can to distract yourself from the fact that you’re running. Each of the tips we share today are in hopes that the less you are thinking about running, the longer you’ll last.
#1: Office hours
For some, exercise is a great time to turn your brain off and detox from the busy needs of daily life. But it can also be a nice opportunity to organize your thoughts and makes some plans without interruption. Why not use running as a time to hold your own office hours (for yourself) and answer any lingering questions or plans?? Talk about a prime distraction!
For a more specific example, if I have a busy week I might use running as a time to answer the following questions:
- What do I need to prioritize this week? What should I prioritize today (or tomorrow, depending on the time of day you run)?
- What sounds good for dinner? Do we have meals planned out for the week? Should I start a grocery list when I’m done?
- For a work event on Wednesday, what should I wear? Do I need to plan to do laundry before that? What else do I need to plan that day in order to get out of the door on time?
Is finding a moment in the day for some clear headed thinking, sometimes difficult? Knowing that you have some uninterrupted time during a run where it’s just you and your thoughts can boost your running motivation.
#2: Head into a dream state
Another in your head type of mental exercise I use is to think about something exciting while running. For instance, I love to think about where I’d like to travel next. Where would I go? What activities would I want to do there? Is there any food or restaurants that I’ve heard about that are must tries?
If you don’t have a prompt in mind, plan one out before you go out on a jog. Anything that allows you to focus outside of running will work.
#3: Game the run
Turn running into a game! One easy game you can play while running is “I Spy” but with yourself. Bet yourself that you can’t find 5 orange things (or insert whatever you want).
Or how about making the run a counting game? Guess how many cars you think you will see on your run and fix your mind and attention on counting cars (or animals, trees, etc.) the entire time. Sounds simple (because it is) but it works!
#4: Change up the vibe
Remember how we said it’s all about distraction? So if you’re running and starting to think about how you can’t wait to stop, then it’s time to change something.
Is the current song you’re listening to an all time jam? Change your song or playlist ASAP to something that will give you a boost for another few (and hopefully more) steps. Or if you haven’t tried listening to a podcast while running, it can be a game changer.
When it comes to podcasts, I mean it when I say there is seriously something out there for everyone. If you love a good whodunit, check out the True Crime category for popular podcasts. Love some good, cheesy reality shows? Listen to ‘Back to the Beach with Kristin and Stephen’ from Laguna Beach. We even made a list of our favorite CrossFit podcasts if you want to check that out.
Some of our personal favorite podcasts are My First Million, Huberman Lab or Side Hustle School. Talk about some running motivation when listening to any of those episodes.
Lastly, don’t sleep on the opportunity to use a run as a time to listen to a book. Audible provides a ridiculous amount of books to listen to and easily distract you from the run you’re on. If you don’t have a particular book in mind, check out there Best Sellers section for some inspiration. I’m telling you, it could be the key to unlock a longer run!
#5: Make short run goals
Got a goal of running for 5 minutes straight, or an entire mile (or more) non-stop? Sometimes when we set big goals, it can feel overwhelming in the moment. Instead of focusing on the fact that you still have 10, 20 or 30 more minutes left of your run, it can help to split the run up into short, mini runs.
For instance, 5 minutes of running might equal running by 10 houses, 5 times. Focus on the 10 houses you are running past, counting as you go. Try to make it by 10 houses. If that feels too hard, try to make it by 5 mailboxes. Keep setting (and resetting) your short run goals for optimal running motivation.
#6: Slow your roll
Hey, running is not a race (unless you sign up for one). For some, just by slowing down your running pace allows you to run for longer overall. Next time you feel the urge to stop, try running slower first. Even if you only run for 3 more minutes, that’s more of a win than stopping when you initially wanted!
As we mentioned, the best ways to get yourself out for a run is by forming the habit. Let us know if nay of the science based techniques help you get motivated. And next time you are on a run, take an assessment of the things you can change. Could you run slower, change up your music or focus on something else entirely? By working on these distraction techniques, you may find yourself running longer before you know it!