Running is great… but sometimes, it isn’t as rewarding as other times. Maybe you just weren’t feeling it or maybe the weather was against you, or maybe, just maybe, it’s your motivation that’s lacking. If that’s the case, here are 10 easy ways to get you back out on the track.
1. Listen to something different
It’s easy to beat the voice telling you not to run if you can’t hear it. Music has been shown to have a big impact on performance, so changing up what you listen to can, change how you perform. The trick is to really mix up your style. If you listen to the same songs every run, change them up for today’s top tunes. If you already listen to rocking beats, listen to a podcast or audio book instead – get hooked on one and you’ll be looking for excuses to head out for your run, not to stay on the couch.
2. Track your runs
In the past few years, technology has brought new ways to measure how you run. From heart rate monitors to GPS wrist watches, quantifying our lives has become mainstream – as has quantifying our running. Apps like Strava give you a great place to store where you run, how far, how fast and how high, and can show you local routes and roads you may not know. If you’re looking for a GPS running watch that syncs with Strava, check out our friends over at Polar. If you don’t track your runs already, this can prove to be one of the most effective (and easy) ways to stay motivated when your inner challenger’s shouts to quit get louder. Knowing you’ve only got another 200 meters until the next kilometer mark or wanting to earn kudos from your online followers can spur you on to go that little bit longer. We recommend joining the On Running Club on Strava for even more motivation from the community there.
3. Have a challenge to conquer
An external challenge can be a powerful motivator to overcome the one that comes from inside, especially when you’re short on time or the weather’s against you. If you already track your running you’ll have a great base to build off to set yourself a personal goal. This could be running a faster time over a certain distance, which you try for once a week, or maybe pushing your longest distance, or elevation, or total runs you do in a month. The point is to have some kind of personal goal to measure each run against, giving you more reason to head out there with purpose.
4. Get running gear you love
When it comes to boosting motivation, looking the part has a big part to play. When the act of putting on your running gear makes you feel confident and ready to perform, then you’ve crushed another excuse your inner rival likes to target. This effect is further enhanced if you know your kit not only looks great, but feels great too. If you feel ready to run just by putting on your running gear, your inner rival won’t stand a chance. To maintain this positivity even if the elements are against you, boost your runner’s wardrobe with essentials for all weather conditions.
5. Join a real-life run club
If virtual run clubs aren’t for you, most cities have major run clubs or clubs part of local gyms that you can join to make running with others a part of your routine. Running in these kinds of clubs is a great way to meet new people, find new routes, and add in elements of competition and motivation. When you’ve committed to a run with other people, you’re more likely to train even when you’re not feeling it. And chances are, when you get there, you’ll have a great time and log some quality training. No clubs near you? There’s no reason why you can’t create your own run club with a few friends. Even running with one other person from time to time can give you new excuses to get out there.
6. Change how you measure your run
If you always run for an hour, change it instead to running 15 kilometers, however long that takes. If you always run to the same spot and same route, run instead for a certain amount of time and when your timer goes off, run back. The point of this exercise is to vary your motivation and to try different things that have you less focused on the end, and more on the journey itself, breaking routine and finding new interest in how you run. With time out of the picture for instance, you can concentrate instead on form or changing your breathing. Changing your goals gives you freedom to try new things.
7. Read a book on running (or watch a movie on it)
Humans were born to run, yet many of us don’t understand the mechanics behind what makes the human body is so great at running long distances. Or about the history of great runners and races. Or about what goes into making a running shoe. The point is, when you have a deeper understanding of something, you have more interest in it, and running is no different. Educate your inner competitor away by finding a book or film where the major theme is running. See how it in turn gives you new reasons (and appreciation) for running. Inspiration will follow, as mental blocks fade away.
“Run often. Run long. But never outrun your joy of running.” – Julie Isphording, Olympic long-distance runner
8. Work more workouts into your run
Running isn’t just moving from point A to B as quickly as possible. A lot of sports involve running, from soccer to hockey to CrossFit. To put a new spring in your step, try integrating aspects of another sport into your run, the easiest of which is a body workout. A simple starter’s workout to follow for a taste of this mixed-workout approach is:
- Run 3km
- Do 3 sets of: 25 push-ups, 35 sit ups, 25 arm dips, resting 1 minute between each
- Do 3 sets of: 50-meter sprints, resting 2 minutes between each
- Do 3 sets of: 15 alternating lunges on each leg with 1 minute of plank afterwards and 1 minute of rest between
- Run 3km home
9. Have a race in your sights
Nothing beats the challenge against yourself like a real challenge against others. If you’re a veteran of your local running events, aim big and aim exotic: a trail race through a tropical destination, an adventure obstacle race, one of the big six world marathons. The point is to make it something you’ll be proud to have done, then begin training for it to watch that motivation flow.
10. Run somewhere new
New places bring new feelings with them, so if you’re finding your current running route lacking luster, the appeal of heading somewhere new will really help you beat your inner rival out of the door. Again, running apps provide insight as to some of the major running hot spots near you that may be worth a go. Or if you usually run at a certain time, change it up: see our running at night guide for more ideas. You can even change the kind of run you do – from city running to trails, change can breathe fresh life into the sport. This kind of change also goes hand in hand with needing new gear, which (see point 4) can further increase your reasons and motivations to run.