How to stay motivated year-round to run and train
Staying motivated year-round is essential to improvement. Here’s what you should know.
Some prefer to run in the heat of summer, others in the depth of winter, and the select few who swear by the treadmill year-round. However, how do you maintain the motivation to train and or compete year-round?
We’re not robots – we have struggles, downfalls, other commitments, and as I’m sure you’re aware, sometimes little to no motivation to train – especially on those cold, dark winter nights.
You’re not alone. In fact, many runners feel the same way, whatever time of year this may be. Our motivation switches week by week, month by month, and even day to day. Maybe you watched the great north run and felt inspired, watched a sporting documentary, or read born to run for the seventh time.
Motivation comes and goes, so don’t stress it. This article will discuss a variety of ways to maintain motivation throughout the year, helping you to remain consistent and see improvements within your running.
1. Learn to enjoy training
More often than not, we get caught in the training trap. We’ve got x miles to run on a given day, on the same route, with the same people, at the same time. Stop. If you’re not enjoying your training, your motivation will suffer even further.
Related: When do you start to enjoy running?
Take a step back, see what you’re not enjoying, and address this.
Slow down the pace, switch up the route, catch up with an old running buddy, and do your best to enjoy the run. Perhaps try something new, run your longest run, fastest run, or even head for the trails and get lost, it’s part of the adventure after all.
2. Goals, goals, goals
Setting goals is arguably one of the most important aspects of training to maintain and increase motivation throughout the year. Without a goal, you’re training for training’s sake. Having something to aim towards is a great way to increase motivation and to know exactly why you’re training in the first place.
Maybe you’re looking to lose a few pounds, have an upcoming race, or want to take part in your first-ever parkrun. Whatever it is, write it down and constantly remind yourself of these goals. Know why you’re training, and the motivation will come much easier.
Tip: Write down your goals and display them somewhere you will see them daily. On the wall? On the fridge? By the door?
3. Run with friends or a running group
If your training is becoming a little stale, why not try running with a different group of friends, or even joining a new running group? Training with others can be great fun, you may even learn a running tip or two along the way.
Likewise, running with a group often means meeting like-minded runners at a specific time. This increases your accountability and motivation to show up, certainly more than finishing work, lying in bed and eating a tub of Ben & Jerry’s.
4. Mix up your training
If you’re struggling to find the motivation to train, we recommend mixing up your training once in a while. For example, why not try including a little cross-training into your schedule? Head for a swim, a bike ride, the gym, or even a long hike.
Remember, cross-training can also improve your running! However, be sure to complement not replace, or you’ll just become good at cross-training…
5. Take a break
We were on a break! No, but seriously, once in a while, you do need to take a break from training. If it makes you feel better, even the pros take time off during the year. If you’re struggling to maintain motivation or worse running with little aches and pains, it’s time to put your running shoes in the cupboard, feet on the couch, and your mind into something new and refreshing, at least for a while.
You may be wondering how long the break from training should last? As a general rule of thumb, anywhere between two to six weeks is an acceptable break. Allow yourself time to recover from a hard year of training while providing a mental break from stomping the pavement on the daily – it’s amazing what a break can do.
Besides, you may return with a burning passion for becoming even faster… a blessing in disguise if you ask us!
6. Why not run in the morning?
While it can be difficult to wake up first thing, head out of the door and run, it can also be refreshing, a change of pace, and great for your motivation – especially if you have limited time on your hands.
If you’re often finding yourself tired and unmotivated towards the end of the day or perhaps after work (when you usually run), mixing up your routine and running in the morning may just be what you need.
Why not try it out a few times per week and see how you get on? It may just be the perfect time for you to train!
7. Layout your running gear beforehand
Do you frequently have the motivation to train in the morning but not after work? We suggest laying out your kit for when you get home, it’ll give you that extra kick in the butt to get out the door and log those miles.
Likewise, setting out your kit in the morning places a constant reminder throughout the day that you later need to train, hopefully getting you psyched up and ready to train!
Staying motivated day after day, week after week, and month after month to train isn’t easy – in fact, it’s super difficult. We recommend following the tips outlined in this article, setting realistic goals, and learning to enjoy your training that little bit more.
Best of luck keeping up the motivation and happy training!
Matthew is an avid runner, freelance writer, Durham University graduate, and the founder of Running101.