The past 14 months have been a challenge. A smattering of in-person races dot the calendar. Virtual races abound! BUT, some are burnt out on those virtual races. And, while races are not the only reason a runner runs, it undoubtedly helps us maintain some of our motivation. A serious lack of races, and the plain craziness of Covid-19 have running motivation at an all time LOW for many runners.
As a matter of fact, a recent Runner’s World article had this survey question:
Are you having a hard time getting out the door lately?
76%: Yes, I’ve been feeling really unmotivated recently.
24%: No, I still look forward to my runs to break up the day.
Clearly, low (or lower) running motivation is in full swing!
Heck, during more “normal” times, low running motivation is fairly common. And, it’s not simply a lack of willpower, but the unending tasks and responsibilities that zap our time and energy. Not to mention, we often struggle with allowing ourselves to be a priority.
What’s a runner to do when low running motivation rears its ugly head?
FIVE Tips to Help Low Running Motivation
1) MIX UP Your Routes.
Doing the same routes endlessly will bring on boredom, no doubt. We know the course so well, nothing seems new, and our routes bring us little spark. We could be blindfolded, and still find our way home
Find a new route, or mix up a previous route at least a couple times each month. Perhaps a weekend run (Saturday or Sunday) will work better as time constraints ease, allowing you to drive further for a run.
If you always run on roads, sidewalks, concrete, try a trail run. The change in scenery is not only good for the soul. Your feet will appreciate, and benefit from a different type of terrain/challenge.
At minimum, attempt to run your current routes differently (alter them some, run in the opposite direction). That alone will provide a bit of fresh perspective.
2) JOIN a Friend, Group, or Peloton for a Run.
Meet with a friend.
Yes, it’s a bit trickier as we emerge from the Covid pandemic. I’ve been regularly meeting a few running friends on Saturdays for a run. We often run our own paces separately, but then meet for a socially distanced coffee post run. It’s a highlight for the week!
Run groups are beginning to rebound. Reach out to your local running store, or search for run groups (ie in Facebook). One of our local running stores (The Big Peach Running Co.) has a group run one weekday evening, and every Saturday morning.
Yes, Peloton. They have indoor and outdoor based runs for different run durations. Someone guides you through the run. They pick music to match your effort. It’s a well thought out concept (for both out and indoors) that may give some pep in your step. (Is there a cost? Yes, but the first 30 days are free. I use Peloton for yoga/strength training, the $9.99/month is worth every penny.)
3) Have a GOAL!
Groan, this doesn’t seem like a fresh idea, does it?! As said, races provide some mojo – and rightly so. But we can think of goals differently. It can be a goal specific to that week, such as completing all planned runs for the week, improving your pace on a speed workout, warming up/down for each run, etc.
Chunk it down to a smaller time frame…
It does NOT need to be an overarching “big goal” (finish a half-marathon). Those goals are important, too. But, if you’re training for a goal that is five months out, it’s helpful to have other wins along the way.
These “smaller” goals provide purpose to your miles, and allows you to work on something in the here and now.
P.S. Write that goal down – where it can be seen “for best results!”
4) Mix Up Paces and Workouts.
Do you eat the same breakfast every day? Or order the same item off the menu each time? Maybe you do! But, many folks don’t because: it’s boring. Boredom, feeling stale, are not conducive to showing up for a run workout!
Plus, it’s not good for your running! Same pace/distance/route is not the way to improve as a runner. Our bodies perform better with variety; a lack of new stimulus means less growth or improvement (mentally or physically).
Changing up your workouts doesn’t need to be complicated. Throw in a speed workout, a tempo run, a fartlek run, hill training, or an interval run.
All new workouts at the same time? NO! Just subbing ONE different workout in your weekly run schedule will keep interest up, and your fitness, too.
5) Allow Yourself Some Variety, or a Break
When all is said and done, maybe you’re just not feeling it. You may need a break from running, or, need more variety in your routine. That’s okay.
But not so fast… It’s a good idea to ask yourself WHY you’re in a funk – are you burnt out? Do you run out of obligation? No races on the calendar?! Do you feel you’ve hit a plateau? That way, it’ll be easier to know HOW to fix it. Running is a wonderful habit that you likely don’t want to lose, especially if it’s a short bout of low running motivation.
All that said, it’s okay to take a break for a while (decide how much of a break though so two weeks doesn’t turn into two years!). You likely will come back fresher, and with more passion.
A less “drastic” option is to sub a different type of workout in for a run. It doesn’t have to be an “aerobic swap.” It can be strength training, yoga, hiking, swimming, cycling, you name it. Better to move in a different way, than not at all!
What are some ways you’ve overcome low running motivation? I’d love to know!