How To Keep Your Running Motivation Up When There’s No Visible Progress
We have all experienced this type of frustration somewhere in our life, either personal or work-related. You know the feeling. You work and work and don’t seem to be getting anywhere. When that happens in your professional life, you might find yourself contemplating a career change.
What do you do if that happens in your running? Do you just quit? Walk away from it? Get frustrated? Or do you amp up your workouts, hoping to start to see results?
It is super easy to keep yourself motivated when you are making visible progress. For example, if you are watching the times get faster, hitting the track is easier than seeing that improvement.
If your goals include losing weight or toning your body, you will also feel pretty good about your workouts when your pants start to fit better.
But what about the weeks (or months) where you keep plugging along and don’t feel or see this progress? How do you stay motivated?
Do Runners Actually Enjoy Running?
Although you may not believe this, some runners actually enjoy running. If you are feeling less than motivated, perhaps you need to put the fun back into your running. Are you wondering how to do that?
One way is to join a running group. My women’s running group is a place where women can meet digitally or in-person to encourage, motivate and share workouts. The group hosts runs and meetups, sometimes with a fun theme.
The SRTT group I belong to held a Red, White, and Blue-themed run on July 4, 2023. We got together for running and fellowship. These runs help to motivate us to show up and keep showing up!
Another tactic is to participate in challenges. Runner Bingo is a way to keep yourself moving, especially through holidays! My chapter’s December Bingo has running challenges (such as go to a group run or run in snow), mental health challenges (send someone a note), and just fun, lighthearted actions such as making a snow angel. You may find yourself suddenly feeling like running when you are anxious to snap a selfie of yourself in your flannel or doing something else fun!
Find a Reason to Train!
Another way to get yourself moving again is to find a reason to train. This could be anything from signing up for a race to agreeing to run with an accountability partner. An accountability partner is someone who you meet on a regular basis to keep you moving.
This is especially true if you plan to get up to run before dawn. While running first thing in the morning makes you feel great for the remainder of the day, you may find it challenging to get yourself moving. When you have someone else depending on you to show up, it could help you stay consistent!
Another reason to train could be signing up for a race. When you have committed to a race that is upcoming, you may want to be sure you are doing all of the things you should do to be ready on race day. Once you have registered for a race, you should find yourself a training plan.
That is another great way to keep yourself motivated! Having a plan helps to build consistency for many people. I suppose it sounds crazy to some, but having that piece of paper can make a world of difference.
If you find yourself needing an additional push, perhaps you want to hire a running coach or personal trainer. This can work for a couple of reasons. First, if you are paying someone to write workouts or help you achieve growth, you are more likely to hold yourself accountable. You don’t want to be wasting your hard-earned money, do you?
How Do I Push Myself to Keep Running?
My first rule of advice to people who are unmotivated to run is simply this: just head out for 10 minutes. If after 10 minutes you simply aren’t feeling it, you can turn around. However, I often find that I get into a groove and go further than the 20 minutes that the out and back would have taken me on.
The next thing is to push yourself to run consistently. I mark on my calendar days I plan to run and pencil in rest days. If I know I have a challenging week of work; I might pencil in three rest days right off the bat. That gives me some grace, and I automatically know that I don’t need to worry about running on those really busy days.
If I have run with a set amount of mileage or a particular workout actually written on a calendar, I am more likely to do what is written. Now that won’t work for everyone, but for me, that right there offers running motivation!
Check out Runnerclick’s Passionate Runner podcast episode on small habits, big results: how to make running a habit with Ben Reale.
Buy Some New Stuff!
I recognize that for some, this may not be an option. However, it does bear mention. If you look good, you feel good. This could be anything from a fancy new Garmin to a new pair of running shoes to some cute new hair ties. Treating yourself to something new that pertains to running could give you the boost you need to get out the door.
If you can’t afford new items, consider hosting a runner gear swap. Some local running groups host these events where everyone brings gently used gear and takes something “new” home.
What To Say to Motivate a Runner?
If you are looking to motivate a runner, the biggest thing is to stay positive. No one thrives on negative energy! You can spread positive energy just by saying things like, “I’m proud of you!”
Some runners find motivation in hearing about your epic races and adventures. However, you should know that this can have the opposite effect on some people. If I am trying to convince someone to sign up for a race, I focus on the fellowship and fun that I had more than the actual race course or my statistics.
When I coach and advise new runners, my favorite thing to motivate them is just to remind them that we all started somewhere. People are often shocked to hear me reminisce about my early running days when I struggled to run a mile. All runners should remember their beginnings and not hesitate to share those moments with others.
Runners can benefit from positive energy and enthusiasm during group runs and at races. In my group, we all cheer when others finish the weekly run. Sometimes we loop back to “bring all the runners in.” Always we offer praise and support.
It helps to remind yourself that we all have off days. Heck, we even have off-seasons sometimes. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to find your running mojo.
It’s Okay To Take a Short Break
If you try all of these things and you are still struggling, maybe what you actually need is a short break from running. Sometimes a little hiatus is exactly what the body is craving, and you just don’t know it.
Just be careful not to disengage for too long, or you will have to crawl your way back again!
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