Friday, December 21, 2012

How To Get Off Your Butt and Run (aka Finding Motivation)

Don’t pretend you haven’t experienced or felt it. Don’t act like it’s never happened to you. It’s a widespread and sometimes infectious disease that we all contract every now and again. What do I speak of?

Loss of Motivation

I received a message the other day from a reader that might just resonate with a few of you, especially this time of year.

“Recently my running motivation is gone. Nowhere in sight. My work out motivation is still there... is this normal? Possibly my body telling me I need a break? I freak out since I'm not running as much, but when it comes time to run, I choose sleep.”


Oh, what to do about this? Or, not to do about this? Well, there’s always the option of eating Cheetos and drinking Coors Light and ditching running altogether. But, in lieu of that…

Sometimes loss of motivation to run is your body’s (and your mind’s) way of saying “Hey, give me a break. You’ve been killing me all year and I’d really like some down time.” Give yourself permission to pull way, way back. After awhile, you might actually find yourself craving the run again.

If you really haven’t been running that much and still don’t feel like running maybe you just don’t like to run (Gasp! What are you crazy?). Is there anything else you can think of that excites you more? There are lots of ways to be active, running is only one. I will agree that with running you get the most bang for your buck if you only have a thirty minutes or so – but if you HATE it, why do it?

That said,  if you truly do like to run, but have just plain lost your motivation, here are some tips I’ve found helpful:

1. Shut Up. I think the single most self-sabotaging behavior that keeps people from doing what they say they are going to do is that they think too much. If you tell yourself you are going to get up and run in the morning, then freaking get up and run in the morning. Do not wake up and look at the temperature and decide it’s too cold. Do not check in with your body and decide you are too tired. Do not look at your calendar and decide you are too busy. Do not take time to think up excuses that will keep you from doing what you said you were going to do. Otherwise, you’ll just find yourself in the same boat tomorrow morning. Only you’ll feel even worse about yourself.

2. Go Naked. Don’t have a race, time or distance goal. Leave your watch at home. Go run just for the sheer pleasure of running. You might like it more that way.

3. Sign Up and Pay Up. Do the opposite of #2. Pick a goal. Maybe you need the extra motivation of having a race PR to work towards or a distance you want to dominate.  Then, sign up and pay money so you actually do it.

4. Write It, Don’t Fight It. Every time you run or workout, come home and write down how you feel. Keep it short. A few words will do. Invigorated. Energized. Confident. Then, the next time you don’t want to run make yourself read your post-run list.

5. Grab a Warm Body. Make someone go with you. This one works because if you can’t be held accountable to yourself, maybe you care about not letting someone else down. Set up a running date with a friend or sign up with a group. Scientific research shows you’re 80% more likely to show up if someone is waiting for you (I made that up, but it sounds good).

6. Keep It Real. If you overwhelm yourself with high mileage goals or paces that you aren’t ready for, you’ll only get discouraged and quit. Start where you are. And, for God’s sake, don’t compare yourself to others. Just because some bloggers run multiple marathons per month or put in 120 miles per week (f&ckers), doesn't mean you have to shoot for those goals. This is your journey. Do it right for you, which might mean taking very, very baby steps.

Got any tips to beat complete loss of running motivation?



  1. I prefer my Cheez-its with wine. It's much classier.

    On the loss of motivation front - I find that group activities are a great way to get back the mojo. If you spend enough time around other runners you find yourself saying something like, "A winter trail marathon? At night? Where do I sign up?!" Or maybe that's just me...

  2. Donuts? Heavy drinking? Watching The Thorn Birds miniseries on VHS?

    All kidding aside, I tend to just take a break. The motivation always returns eventually.

  3. I always make sure I am not over trained first before I push myself through the slump. But to get through any slumps I make sure I never hit snooze on my alarm. Once I do that I am done for.

  4. Thank you for this SUAR! I've been in that 'no motivation' mode for a few weeks now and your thoughts are inspiring me to get back out there and run (or at least do something to get moving again). I especially like #1. 'Shut Up' because it's been too easy to talk myself out of going on runs lately.. I have two Rock 'N' Roll Halfs this spring so I need to get going!!

    I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday! Cheers! ~Ronni

  5. I'm on a break right now. It took a few days to embrace it, but I've been training hard all year and I'm tired and busy, and honestly feel like crap, so I haven't run since Monday. Gonna try to get myself out there tomorrow. It'll be my first run in the snow :) I sorta am looking forward to that.

    I guess something that motivates me is doing something different. I like races not only for the "atmosphere", but also because it's some place different. I like that change of scenery, so perhaps setting a route that is different or running in the snow or rain, or in odd climates that have more bad weather than good, in no rain or snow, would be a good plan to motivate.

  6. I definitely agree that running nakes helps. Whenever I get a major case of idon'twanna for a while, I make sure I have no races set up, no goals, no garmin. Then I go to interesting places to run, like parks, trails, etc. And I just run to run. I listen to the birds and wind in the trees and feel the rhythm of my feet hitting the ground and my lungs filling with fresh air. After a few weeks of doing this once or twice a week, I'm refreshed and ready to go hit it hard again, garmin and mp3 player ready to go.

  7. I don't have anything new to add but agree with your "go naked" tip. When I am lacking in motivation, I am most likely going to have a sub-par run. It will only depress me further to come home and look at the Garmin and see how slow I was running. If I don't bring it (or even a watch), then I usually run at a relaxed, comfortable pace and enjoy my run. This helps increase my motivation for the next run!

    Love the pic of the Cheetos and beer...sometimes I take that route, too. :)

  8. I'm a little disappointed that your bottles of beer aren't even opened...;)

    My motivation/mantra is "Do what you can, when you can." If you can only get in a mile or two, then run a mile or two. If you can only run at a slow pace, then run at a slow pace. Doing something is ALWAYS better than doing nothing. 1 mile is better than 0 miles. I recently saw this quote "Even running slowly, you're still lapping the folks on the couch." (I paraphased...).

  9. Well put! I particularly like the comment about over thinking the run.. just suar! :)

  10. I'm sorry to point out that your beer bottles aren't opened...but you probably already knew that!

    I actually relish running outside this time of year. It is always interesting--dodging snow, ice, the cold...makes me feel tough. But no pressure, nothing to train for...just enjoy the run. And you have to keep going because if you stop and walk...brrr!

  11. Run some place different. Take a different route, start going the other way. It gets to be a habit to run the same route, and then you start timing yourself. Judging yourself. Getting down on yourself if you're a bit slower.
    Do something different on your runs. Count your turnover. Close your mouth and breath only through your nose. Of course this is only good if you're trying to train in zone 2.
    Try doing the warm up you're actually supposed to do, not the one you really do, which is probably inadequate.
    Get your head in the game. Even though you might not be running fast, think about your running, trying to be smoother, or doing a mid foot strike. Or don't think of the run at all and follow some pace booty, even if it kills you.

  12. great tips! i have to remind myself sometimes of #1, to just shut up and go do it. last week for 2 days in a row i was like, ill run later in the day, i have stuff to do first, its cold out early and of course, took the 2 days off bc i never got around to running. ohswells.

  13. My best motivation for running is having two kids that argue constantly and a demanding husband occupying the house. Gets me out every day!

  14. 1. Shut Up.

    SOOOO True! If only I could remember this before I start thinking! Thanks SUAR. Have a wonderful holiday!

  15. I love the idea of the naked run! I am definitely going to try that!

  16. Yes, start doing Jillian Michael's dvds and that will snap you out of it. You'll be begging to run again, no matter how unmotivated you felt beforehand.

  17. Keep it real - such great advice. I think that reading other blogs brings out my competitive nature even more than normal. I have to constantly tell myself that it doesn't matter what anyone else is doing, I can only do what my body allows or I end up hurt (like now!).

    Love the picture!!!

  18. Major lack of motivation here. Mine isn't motivation to run, mine has been motivation to eat less. I eat right, just been snacking more. This lack of motivation is born of frustration. I've been through a tough injury/ illness year. I haven't been able to run in 7-8 weeks now and have been in PT for the 3rd time in the past year. Yeah, suck it up! That's what I need more of! Not just SUAR but STFU/ HTFU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. this couldn't have come at a better time. my working-out mojo is just gone. it's sad but my major motivation lately has been the ridiculous amount of sweets and booze I've been consuming...

  20. Love! I was feeling this on Thursday and decided I'd give myself a pass until the 26th, however, last night i was craving a run. I woke up this morning and went to the gym because I really wanted to run. :)

  21. Really good post. End of November I decided to do something similar to "Go Naked" because I was burnt out. I still run 3 times a week but at whatever pace works for me on a given day: no structured workouts, no pacing or time goals - I just run for fun.
    And whatever intensity I'm missing in running, I make up for it in the pool.

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  23. question- do you run when you are sick? Ive been sick all week. today went out for 1st run since i got The Crap. horrible run. had to walk 2 out of the 6 miles of it. miserable. any advice? suggestions? Thank You!- Katie

    1. Usually if it's just a cold and I'm a bit run down, I'll run. But if it's affected my longs/bronchial or I have a fever, vomitting,extreme fatigue, etc I don't.I was actually going to do a post about this. I think the rule of thumb is that if symptoms are from the neck up it's okay.

  24. Thanks, thanks thanks!
    3 months and still struggling. I think next time I do a marathon I need to give my body some down time and then I will not be struggling 3 months down the track like I am this time. I love your comment of making excuses and not getting out of bed. Your awake. Something is better than nothing and yes, if you dont you feel even worse tomrrow. I know - that is excatly what its been like me.
    Merry Christmas Bess and may you run like a dog is chasing you into the New Year!

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