16 Ways to Stay Motivated to Run

As much as you may love running, everyone experience wanes in motivation sometimes. Whether a disruption to your routine throws you off, or you just feel bored with the same old route, a dip in the desire to run is common. Maintaining your motivation is critical to sustaining your running habit.

Try some of these ideas to help you stay motivated to run:


Run on Mondays

woman running near a lake

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Starting the week with a run sets the tone and pattern for the rest of the week. You're beginning the week the way you want the rest of it to go.

Running on Monday also helps if you know you want to get in a certain number of runs during the week. By day one, you already have the first run under your belt.

Feeling that sense of accomplishment so early in the week gives you a boost of motivation and confidence that you can take through the week. And Mondays can be stressful! Running is a great stress reliever and an excellent way to help you deal with the challenges of a new week. 


Commit to a Race

Finish Line
Finish Line.

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Put some money on the line by signing up for a race. Look for one that has a reward you'll appreciate, whether it's a route with gorgeous views, a fun atmosphere (say, live music or people in costumes), a charitable donation to a cause you support, or a cool t-shirt or medal.


Start Your Own Running Tradition

Marathon runners.

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Make one of the races you run into a tradition by choosing one race that you always do every year. You'll stay motivated to train and participate in keeping your "streak" alive.

Try to get some friends or family members to do it with you to make it an annual event that you all look forward to.


Be Prepared

Runner's Tote Bag
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Set up systems so you can run without even thinking about it: Lay out your clothes and a snack the night before a morning run, or keep a bag packed with running clothes and shoes in your car.

You'll be prepared to take advantage of any unexpected opportunity to run. Even if you can only run for 20 minutes, some running is better than no running, and it will help you maintain your running habit.


Have a Vision

Mental training is very effective. Visualize yourself achieving a running goal, such as crossing the finish line at a race. Really picture yourself there. What will you see, hear, and feel?


"Adopt" a New Runner

man and woman putting in earphones to run

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It's exciting to watch someone new to running get interested in and rave about the sport. If you know someone who wants to run but doesn't know how to get started, offer your assistance.

Provide some essential training advice and gear knowledge—and, more importantly, much-needed encouragement. Although running with your protégé may not be challenging physically for you, seeing the sport through a new runner's eyes will help renew your motivation.


Work With a Coach or Trainer

Or seek out an expert. If you're feeling stuck or frustrated or having trouble meeting your goals, consider booking a few sessions with a running coach or trainer. This can help you break out of a plateau or re-discover what you love about running.


Run In the Morning

Snow running
Snow running.

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Whenever you run in the morning, you might feel as though you've gained a couple of hours during the day. There's no pressure to run in the evening since you already got your miles done in the morning.

Finding time to run in the evening always gets challenging as work and home responsibilities start popping up. Runners who run early in the day are more consistent with their running than those who try to do it later.


Take a Break

Giving yourself breaks in training is vital for staying motivated and preventing injuries. For healthy, consistent training, your body needs regular recovery periods.

Build rest days into your weekly running schedule, and plan for "recovery weeks" (when you decrease your overall weekly mileage) every four weeks. Also, make sure to work cross-training, such as walking, biking, or swimming, into your training schedule so you don't get burned out (mentally and physically) from running every day.

If you don't have time to do an entire workout (and it's not a rest day), don't take the "all or nothing" approach. If you're short on time, go for a quick two-mile run or get in 20 minutes of strength training.

You'll still get some benefits, and you'll feel much better mentally for not skipping a workout entirely.


Plug In

If you love data, get a watch or app that can help you track your runs. Keeping a training log is an excellent way to track your progress and stay motivated. Many fitness trackers and apps allow you to make a journal or notes, in addition to logging your mileage and the date.

It's easy: Enter a few comments about how you felt (i.e., "finished strong," "felt sluggish first two miles"). Having a log lets you review your stats regularly so you can see what you've accomplished and set new goals.

You can also use the Charity Miles app to help turn every run mile into a donation for a charity of your choice.


Add Variety

man running on road golden hour

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You'll get bored or burned out if you keep doing the same workouts days after day. Change your runs by finding new routes or adding speed intervals or hill repeats to your workouts.

Or join a club. The social aspect of running is one of the key reasons people start and it's also why they stick with it. Find a local running group or recruit some friends or co-workers to run with you.


Place Your Inspiration Prominently

motivating note says you can

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Surround yourself with reminders and stimuli that will inspire you to run. For example, place running books on your coffee table, make one of your race photos the screen saver on your computer, or post motivational running quotes in prominent areas, like on your refrigerator or bathroom mirror.

You can also pick a mantra, a short phrase that you play over and over in your head while running to help you stay focused and centered. It can be your inner motivation when you need it most (and you're away from your at-home reminders).

Finding a mantra isn't complicated: It can pop into your head as you're listening to your tunes, chatting with training partners, or flipping through a running magazine. Choose one that fits your running style and personality, such as: "Easy does it" or "Harder, faster, stronger" or "Never give up."


Set Goals

Pick a goal—such as finishing a 5K or a half-marathon—and tell people about it. Post your training schedule at home and work, so you have constant reminders about your goals.

If races aren't your thing, set a mileage goal (30 miles this month, for example) or try a running streak (where you run at least a mile a day, every day, for a set length of time).

You can even choose a goal for every run: Anything is fair game, from "I'll do the whole route without walking" to "I'll smile at everyone I pass" to "I'll do three sprint intervals.

Celebrate your accomplishments, too. Display medals or photos from your races so your achievements keep you motivated.


Enjoy the Health Benefits

One of your training goals may be to improve the way you look and feel. So make sure you periodically remind yourself of the health improvements you're making.

Get your blood pressure tested, or step on the scale and check your weight. Think about how much more energy you have and how you now have a healthy way to relieve stress. Notice whether you're sleeping better or feel less anxious or moody.


Think of Running as "Me Time"

Even if you run with a buddy, running is an excuse to devote time to yourself and your needs, not anyone else's. It's a short escape from your responsibilities. But don't feel guilty.

Giving yourself a mental and physical break benefits both you and those you're responsible to, like coworkers and family members.


Reward Yourself

running gear

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When you meet a bigger goal, treat yourself to some new running gear or a massage (this also helps with injury prevention) as a reward for your hard work. The treat will make you feel energized, and reinforce your commitment to your training.

By Christine Luff, ACE-CPT
Christine Many Luff is a personal trainer, fitness nutrition specialist, and Road Runners Club of America Certified Coach.