Seven Ways to Motivate Yourself to Get Out and Run

Confession time: sometimes I just don’t feel like getting out there for a run.

justgorun_featured_620x335Motivation posters like the one pictured here would have you believe that Nike is right. You just do it. But we all know that sometimes the last thing you want to do is go for a run even though you know it’s going to be good.

If you are suffering from the same lack of “get up and go” as I do from time to time, here’s seven tips to help get you out the door for your run:

  1. Build in a reward at the end – if you find yourself craving one of those Starbucks holiday drinks or a bowl of ice cream (or whatever your favourite thing is), make it into a reward that you only get after you run. No run? No reward.
  2. Tell the world – alert your Twitter friends, and post it on Facebook. A quick “Running 8km tonight!” post is all you need. When you announce it to friends, it’s more likely that you’ll hold yourself accountable and get out and run so you can follow it up with a proud, “Ran 8km and felt great!”
  3. Make it a habit – get one of those habit apps for your phone that you can set up to remind you to do different things like run 5km four times a week, or drink 8 glasses of water a day. These apps are powerful tools that help you make good habits, or break bad habits. My personal fav is Habit List but you’ll find a bunch of different ones in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.
  4. Make each run a small part of a bigger goal – set a weekly mileage goal, or work towards a race. Having a reason to run, even if it’s something as basic as “run 20km every week” is a surprisingly effective motivator in the off season. Having a race on the calendar is even better.
  5. Think about it all day – married couples might relate to this one. Build a little excitement about your run by dropping yourself hints and thinking about it a bunch of times throughout the day. Set up a reminder or two on your phone that says something like, “Run tonight!” and have it alert you in the middle of the afternoon. In other words, get a bit worked up about it.
  6. Habit List is a great app to help motivate you to get in the habit of running

    Habit List is a great app to help motivate you to get in the habit of running

    Put out your gear in the morning – before you head to work in the morning, lay out your running gear so when you get home you won’t have that excuse to fall back on. It’ll serve as a reminder that you wanted to run, and make it just that little bit easier to get out the door. Sometimes gearing up is 90% of the battle when it comes to making a run happen.
  7. Remember the last time you ran when you didn’t feel like it – flip back through your running log (you keep one, right?) and look for an entry from another day when you didn’t want to run and did it anyways. I guarantee that log entry will say something like, “Didn’t feel like running, but once I got out there, it was great.” This time will be the same.

What’s your motivation to run? How do you kick yourself in the butt to get that run in when you’d rather sit on the couch and watch tv? Share your secrets in the comments!

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2 Responses

  1. rozalita says:

    I’m firmly in the “make it a habit” camp. Rewards are good and having long term goals definitely helps, but for me there’s nothing that makes it happen like taking the choice out of it. Is it Monday? Then we’re going to the gym. End of conversation. It doesn’t take too long before the mandatory fades and the habit forms and it just starts being what I do.

    • James Koole says:

      Schedules and the resulting habits that come from following them are great. Where I hit problems is when I don’t have a schedule which generally happens when I don’t have a race on the calendar. I loved the run streak I did earlier this year for that reason – the kids would ask if I was running today and I’d say, “Is it a day of the week? Then I’m running.”

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