A Runner’s Motivation: Combat lulls in motivation because the key to running your best is consistency

With running there really is no ‘off season’. There are quick lapses to allow for breaks, and don’t get me wrong, taking a break after a rigorous training cycle and racing season is INCREDIBLY important. However, at the same time, most athletes take only about two weeks before they get going again.
keep running
The ironic thing about running is that you can lose all that fitness you worked your @$$ off for pretty dang quickly; (Don’t believe me, talk to even a professional athlete when they go for that first run after their two week break!) yet, thanks to the miracle of muscle memory, consistent runners snap back into shape rather quickly too. So it’s about a two week hazing period after a break where the legs feel completely foreign and the lungs are screaming at you, but crest that hump and you start to hit your stride again and get into the swing of workouts.

If you’re not with a team running traditional seasons (ie: cross country, indoor track, outdoor track) you may be doing road races or training for a marathon. Trust me, there are no shortage of races to be had all year round. Is racing a necessity for being a runner? Hardly, I haven’t raced since Pikachu was giving kids seizures but I’m still a runner.

That said, many people need the excitement of a race as motivation to get in their runs and workouts. Lulls in motivation are something every runner deals with; though the trick to STAYING a runner is powering through them. Some ways to keep your running exciting and fresh, with or without a race coming up:

* Switch Distances: If you’re coming off of a marathon try training for a fast 5k. Working on your speed will always improve your longer races…think about it, the faster you can run a mile, the faster you can then hold a slightly slower pace for a 5k, 10k, and beyond.

* Go Long: Reflexively, if you’re coming off a string of 5k’s and 10k’s do some longer based threshold work and long runs as a half-marathoner or marathoner would do and you’ll improve your endurance. That will of course translate down in your ability to stay strong and close hard in those shorter races.

* Tackle Hills: If you’ve not done hill repeats or much hill running hit these suckers to improve strength. That extra strength will mean speed when you go back to the flats…plus, exploring new hilly terrain and trails can be fun.

run for cake

Dreaming of cake works as motivation too! ;)


* Run Naked: No, not like that, but running without a Garmin or being overly hung-up on paces is a necessity sometimes. Run for effort and do fartlek workouts away from the track or marked trails. Here is a fix for the times where you may just be feeling burned out on workouts OR you find yourself getting so stressed out about times and splits that you really do start to dread your workouts. You should never dread your runs.

* Explore: Find new routes, find new people to run with, go outside of your comfort zone…anything that feels like you’re exploring your running in a new way. Often times running turns to routine, which can be helpful in some ways, but every now and again you need to shake up that routine to keep that running fresh.

* Basics: If you’re finding yourself feeling burned out or not sure where you want to go with this running thing, just roll with it. Remember WHY you run, how it makes you feel, think of some of your favorite races and runs and figure out WHY you enjoyed them so much. Go back to running like a kid would, just have freaking fun with it.

The reason I bring up keeping your running exciting and new to you is because our sport hinges upon consistency. There is no ‘off season’ for being a runner you see? Doing the same thing all-year round will inevitably bring times where the repetitiveness is just straight-up boring or unappealing.

Yes, there will be days where your running feels like a chore…BUT you do that chore for the day because not soon thereafter will be the days where your running returns to the ever-amazing passion that makes you feel right. You just have to stay the course and keep yourself motivated through those lulls.

1) What is one way you’ve kept your running fresh and exciting?

2) What are you currently working towards? Whether it be a race, a new kind of training style, getting speedier, etc.

3) When’s the last time you ran ‘naked’?

best running shirts

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24 thoughts on “A Runner’s Motivation: Combat lulls in motivation because the key to running your best is consistency

  1. Oh my goodness, I couldn’t agree more with switching distances and tackling hills. Both have gotten me excited to be running at different points in my life. Right now I am coming back from an injury, so I am completely out of shape, but every run is kind of a victory so it is fun!

  2. I could definitely use a shake up in my training. I run on the treadmill ALL THE TIME. I am looking forward to vacation in 3 weeks (warm climate) so I can switch it up and run outside along the ocean!!

    I couldn’t tell you the last time that I ran “naked”!! Logging all my miles has become a game to me and part of the reason that I run. Creature of habit, I guess! :)

  3. I like having structure in my variation (no surprises there, being me :P) so I have days I do speed work and long runs and hills…it keeps it varied without me needing to remember to change it up :) I like reading your advice because it also gives me ideas for other things to switch!

  4. So much love for this post, but mostly for the Pikachu reference!

    I thought for awhile tat I was getting it wrong by opting for shorter distance for awhile, but it all fits together beautifully. This 10km goal for the next few months is a great motivator…and a great base to build on for marathon round 2.

    Thank you Cait Runner Goddess. Your words of wisdom never cease to help.

    • hahaha….glad that pikachu reference got u! ;)

      that’s wat i wish i could yell from the rooftops to lots of runners who feel ‘guilty’ if they are training for anything other than a marathon. training to run faster for shorter races is still crazy hard work, just in a different way…and PLUS that speed will then really give ur marathon the best chance for a huge PR…for which we know u’ll hit. :)

  5. I think my absolutely, most favourite thing to do when I’m low on motivation is to go find a new place to run. The change in route/atmosphere is a HUGE help! Running naked helps as well, because the numbers can make me go crazy sometimes!

  6. I love that you said you don’t have to run races to be a runner!! Lately I’ve been questioning myself because I haven’t raced in ages – I just like to run for me. (although I’m thinking about training for a race when I get over my stress fracture)

  7. I rarely run naked because I need to track mileage for training, but I’ve gotten better at not looking at my watch every three seconds. I can go for a 20 mile run and rarely look at it at all, and when I do, just a quick glance at the distance. Baby steps!:) And I am a race addict. I love doing them to keep me motivated!

  8. This came just in time! I ran outside tonight and complained ot my husband that I really didn’t want to go and I had too much stuff (hat, watch, ipod, gloves) and felt just blah. But you’re right – lack of motivation is normal and when in doubt, I should just “run naked”! I begin marathon training soon, so I’m sure I’ll be referring back to this post later. Thanks!

    • YAY for marathon training! but yea, sometimes i just have to force myself out the door and into those first few steps…but then i’m always happy i did. :)

  9. Great tips and funny how sometime we just don’t think of mixing it up. I love your point about consistency. Honestly in a year when I have really found my strides with running If I had to pick one thing that was different it was consistency! Short, long, easy or hard just keep running.

    This post also confirmed that I need to go out and mix up my courses… I can’t remember the last time I ran along the coast and I love it. Thank you! :=)

    • ummm, u’ve pretty much epitomized consistency my dear! it’s funny to look back at our ‘past’ selves and now we’d never think to blow off a run as easily as we used to. call it this strange addiction of ours. :)

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