Re-thinking the way you approach running could help you re-find your lost motivation.
It can happen to the best of us and can strike for all sorts of reasons.
When you’re getting back into running after an injury or an enforced break. When the initial excitement of a new training plan fades. When an event your targeting gets cancelled. When the fear of failure begins to stop you from giving your best. The list goes on.
So what do you do when you’ve lost your motivation to run?
The usual sound advice consists of tips like:
- Set new goals and break them down into manageable chunks.
- Mix up your workouts.
- Sign up for an event to keep you focused.
- Join a running club or run with a friend.
- Use an app to track your progress and give yourself some competition.
All great advice that can help keep you on track. But could also easily do the opposite. When running becomes a thing that has to be done, or a time that has to be hit, or a distance that has to be covered, it can end up being debilitating when it comes to actually getting out the door.
Instead, try switching your mindset. Stop thinking about running as ‘training’. Remove the pressures of performance and goals. Instead make the run itself as interesting, enjoyable or useful as possible.
Here are 5 different ways to shake things up so that you actually want to get your trainers on and get out the door.
Go exploring not running
Make the aim of your run to explore somewhere new. No pressure on time or effort, just a mini-adventure. Take your time. Stop when you want, walk when you need, whatever feels good. Just go somewhere that’s interesting and new.
To do it is easy: Run somewhere you’ve never run before.
It could be to a specific place. Around a lake. Along a river. To a monument. Up a hill.
Or it could be more simple. A road you pass every day, but have never actually been on. A path that you have no idea where it goes.
You could try to run all the paths/streets in your area. Or use a map to find new trails that you have never been along.
In a new town or city? Get your trainers on and go exploring.
Part of a city you don’t know very well? Go run around it and check it out. You can even make a day of it, seeing the sights and sample the food and drink when you want a break.
However you do it, you’ll be surprised how quickly the miles pass as you explore new places.
Run in the rain
That feeling of not wanting to venture out when it’s chucking it down is normal. But, fight it, and you’ll get rewarded with a seriously invigorating run.
The first few minutes are rough. You feel every drop. Your clothes get cold as water soaks through to your skin. You plod on until you can’t get any wetter and then it all starts to change.
Your heart rate rises and your muscles loosen. Your body starts to warm up and you stop noticing the rain. The paths are empty (who would be stupid enough to be out running in this?!). You feel like you’re on your own adventure. You vs the elements.
The miles are passing by and you feel unstoppable. You get back and you feel amazing, full of life and ready to enjoy a bit of hygge time and some comfort food, knowing you earned it.
Run in the dark
As the nights start to draw in, for a lot of people their running motivation can take a big hit. But, running in the dark can be not just enjoyable, but a mini-adventure.
Running with just the beam of your head torch for company is something really different. Your focus is narrowed to just the path ahead. You can be running on a path you’ve run a hundred times, but it feels new. You concentrate intently on the path ahead. All around is just pitch black. It feels almost like meditation. Miles pass without much thought of how your body feels.
Running in cities at night can be just as captivating. The world looks different in the dark. Often the places that are so busy in the daytime are empty. The roads take on a different feel under the amber glow of the street lights. The pavements are all yours.
Run to accomplish something
This is similar to running to complete a race, like a 10k or a marathon. It is a great motivator, something to aim for and a challenge to achieve, but you don’t always need to enter an organised event.
Setting your own challenges can be just as rewarding and boost your motivation. It could be as simple as running to work for the first time, or more adventurous like attempting to run up a mountain or two (it doesn’t need to be fast) or cover a certain distance.
FKT’s (fastest known times) have become really popular over the last year with the lack of organised events. Heading out to cover a route in the fastest time, but when it suits you, gives people a great focus on their running.
It doesn’t have to be a challenge. You could just be running between errands that you would usually drive between, like dropping stuff off somewhere or buying something, or the school run, just take a backpack and make it into a run instead. Or join up with a great organisation like GoodGym, that combines group runs with helping people out in the community.
This one’s not for everyone, but for those that love a little adventure, this can turn a run into a game that will make the miles fly by.
A word of warning, be prepared and don’t do anything stupid. Getting lost is not the way to explore mountains you haven’t run on before.
Set off with someone and somewhere where you’re safe, with a map/GPS and phones, as well as supplies to keep you going just in case. Check the weather, have a plan for if you really do get lost and need some help, and give yourself plenty of time before it gets dark!
In the countryside, heading off with a rough plan, but on unfamiliar trails can lead to an epic run. You see the world differently as you pass new places, noticing everything around you as you try to figure out the best route. You can run at a pace and in a direction that suits you depending on how you feel and what you see. If you crave freedom, it’s a great way to run.
This works particularly well if you need the feeling of adventure when stuck in the city. You could try heading in one direction as best you can (e.g. North), and just keep going. After, say, half an hour, turn around and run back to the start, but without using the same streets as before. Sometimes you’ll be back quicker on the return leg, but more often than not you’ll take a lot longer as you try to figure out the best route to take.
With your mind occupied with trying to figure out the route, the running never feels as hard. The addition of a little adrenaline when you have the feeling of being a bit lost gets you running pretty fast!