Running is a very demanding sport, both physically and emotionally. Although the benefits often outweigh the negatives, sometimes you just start feeling burnt out and need a little extra motivational kick to get back in the swing of things. Here are a few ideas to try next time you find yourself feeling uninspired on a run.
Try a new route
Runners, like anyone, get stuck in their routines. Just like people cycle through the same 12 dinners for years, runners will cycle through their same 3–4 running routes until they could run it in their sleep. No wonder they lose motivation! It’s important to keep your mind stimulated while running and give yourself new turns, sights, and mile markers to look forward to. If you’re limited by where you live, try driving or riding your bike a few miles away on the weekends and beginning a run from a new location, or have a friend or family member drop you off a few miles away and run home.
Volunteer at a Race
Although many runners sign up and participate in races, far fewer give back and volunteer. Most races depend heavily on volunteers, and you’re not likely to ever be turned away if you offer your time. Volunteering lets you feel the rush of positive energy and enthusiasm of races without having to train and run in it. Seeing runners of all ages and athletic abilities working hard, achieving their goals, and celebrating at the finish line emits an extremely contagious good feeling that is bound to get you excited about your own training once again. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself signing up for the same race you just volunteered for.
Although shopping is not always recommended as the go-to boredom buster, few runners can deny the remarkable feeling a new pair or running shorts or shoes (or, if you’re on a budget, just a headband or fun colored shoelaces) can provide. Perhaps all runners secretly want to believe that new gear might make us faster runners, but honestly, who’s to say it can’t? It’s all about attitude, after all.
Read a book about running
There are countless inspirational books on running out there. We are all inspired by different types of stories, but here are a few to get your list started: Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, Ultramarathon Man: Confession of an All-Night Runner by Dean Karnazes, Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness by Scott Jurek, Running Through the Wall: Personal Encounters With the Ultramarathon by Neal Jamison and Don Allison, or Once A Runner (the only novel in this list) by John L. Parker. It would be nearly impossible to read any one of these books and not want to get back out there with a freshly inspired perspective.
Take a week off
If all else fails, maybe you’re just burnt out mentally and physically. Listen to your body and give it a break. Get some extra rest, catch up on your ‘to do’ list around the house, read a new book, and just relax. It never seems to take runners more than a week to start itching and reaching for their running shoes again.
Runners of all ability levels experience some motivation loss at times but, thankfully, it’s a very fixable problem. What are your motivation secrets?