20 Tips to Maintain Running Motivation

Every year when the snow starts to fall and the temperatures drop, I struggle a bit with maintaining my motivation to run. This is a pretty common phenomenon. The days grow colder. The streets and sidewalks become sketchy from snow and ice cover. The hours with available daylight start to dwindle. Suddenly, getting outside can start to lose its appeal.  Running is a lifetime sport, however, and not a seasonal one. It is something that we can do no matter what time of year it is. Everyone experiences days or even weeks or months where their motivation can wane. As with anything in life, the key to success in running is maintaining consistency in training. Here are a few tips to help keep your running motivation up, no matter what time of year it is!

1. Run with a training partner. It is much easier to push yourself out the door if you are planning to meet someone. Having a training partner provides motivation, inspiration and accountability. Plus, the social aspect makes the miles go by more quickly.

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2. For days when you have no one to run with, music can be a huge motivator. Fill up a new playlist with your favorite songs. When running with headphones, always be safe and make sure that you can hear, either by keeping the volume at a low level or by only running with one ear bud in. Conversely, if you always run with music, occasionally run without it. Let the sounds of nature soothe and motivate you.

3. Set short-term and long-term goals. Sign up for your one or two big goal races for the year and sign up for other smaller, local races as part of your training cycle. If your “A” race is a marathon, scheduling in some 5ks, 10ks and even a half-marathon in the lead-up to your goal race provides great incentive to stay moving. The shorter races can also double as speed workouts.

Joel running

4. Have a training plan in place that includes daily and weekly goals. These goals will vary, depending upon what distance race you are training for. A daily goal might be repeats on the track or a recovery run. Weekly goals might include total mileage that you hope to hit for the week.

5. Don’t forget about your dog! Your dog needs exercise, too. Since I recently acquired a new dog who loves to run, I find running in the rain and snow to be so much more fun. The worse the weather is, the more my dog loves to run. Watching him enjoy the snow brings a whole new kind of fun to my own running. Even when the weather is at its absolute worse, I take one look at my dog and know I have to get myself out the door.

6. Reward yourself. If you get in all of your planned workouts for a week or a month, treat yourself to something, whether it be new running gear or a nice massage.

7. Use a running app or join an on-line running community where you are accountable to other people.

8. Run somewhere new. If you always run in your neighborhood, schedule a day where you drive to a trail or even to another city for a race.


9. Join a social running group. There are tons of social running groups in most cities now. Check out your local running store and ask if they host group runs. Some restaurants and brew pubs also host group runs.

10. Try running at different times of day: early morning, lunch-time, or after work. Mix it up.

11. Find ways to fit in runs, even if you are in a time crunch. I know that I have done things like dropped my kids off at their activities and just run for the hour that they are there. Other moms I have talked to have run laps around the soccer field while their kids practice.

12. If you feel overwhelmed by the thought of going out to run on any particular day, tell yourself that you only need to run for 20 minutes. If you get to 20 minutes and you still don’t feel like running, then stop. If you feel good, keep going. Sometimes just getting those first minutes in is all we need to change how we feel.

13. Make sure you have the best shoes for you. Shoes that fit properly are by far the most important piece of running equipment. A good pair of shoes may prevent you from becoming injured. Do not skimp on shoes. Visit a running specialty store where the employees are trained to do gait analysis and fit you accordingly.

14. Invest in proper clothing. Summer running is pretty basic: cool and breathable clothing will help make you more comfortable. For winter running, staying warm and dry makes all of the difference in the world. Warm tights and tops will keep your core warm. Gloves that are warm and wind and waterproof are crucial. Good socks and a hat will also go a long way to keep you toasty. On the coldest of days, I sometimes use hand and foot warmers.

15. For winter months, it is important to have proper traction. There are things that can be slipped onto the shoes to prevent from slipping and sliding. Kathoola microspikes work well for very extreme conditions. Yaktrax are also popular. Some people put screws in their shoes. The king of mountain running, Matt Carpenter, explains how to make screw shoes here:

16. As the days get shorter, make sure to have a good headlamp or flashlight. As much as I love bright sunshine, I also find that there is actually something that feels magical about running in the dark.

17. Always be prepared for your run! If you are an early morning runner, lay all of your clothing out the night before. If you run at lunch time or after work, pack your bag before you go to bed so that you are not rushing around in the morning trying to gather things.

Elizabeth I running

18. Do some cross-training. Cross-training is an important component of any training program. Swim, bike, weight train or go to a yoga class. Doing other physical activities will help prevent mental and physical burn-out and will help to avoid injury.

19. Find inspiration from others. Read some running-related blogs or running books. Watch some movies about running.

20. Finally, on those days that you are really having trouble getting out the door, practice gratitude. Remind yourself that you are fortunate to have a healthy and strong body that is able to run. Remember that there are many people out there who would love to run but are unable to do so. Get out and embrace your health and physical well-being! Training to run for a cause, such as Project Purple, gives you a reason to get outside and train each and every day!

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