27 Running Motivation Tricks – How to Get Motivated to Run

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Cross Training For Runners
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David Dack

Looking for simple ways to improve your running motivation?

Then you’ve come to the right place.

In today’s post, I’m going to share with you a list of 27 of my favorite strategies for keeping running motivation high.

Sounds great?

Let’s lace up and dig in.

1. Find Your Big Why

Knowing your big why is an essential way to stay on top of your goals.

Sorting out your priorities begins with you asking yourself why.

Why would you pursue something when you don’t actually know why you’re doing it. It doesn’t make sense, right?

To find your deep why ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why do you want to run more regularly?
  • Why do you want to get fit?
  • Do you want to lose weight?
  • Do you want to eat healthily?
  • Do you constantly getting bullied?

Think about these questions for a few minutes, then make a detailed list of the reasons you want to accomplish your fitness goals.

Still a beginner? Try my beginner running plan.

2. Set The Right Running Goals

As a beginner, plan to run for 20 to 30 minutes a few times a week.

Write down your goals, so you use them as a point of reference—they’ll also evolve as you get stronger and fitter.

Sure, feel free to dream big, but remember to stay within your fitness level.

Getting hurt is a common motivation killer.

Here are a few more goals to consider:

  • Working out 4 to 5 times per week
  • Losing one pound a week
  • Doing yoga twice a week
  • You name it!

You’re more likely to accomplish your ultimate running goal—whatever it might be—if you break it down into short-term, mini, manageable goals.

Here’s how to design your running program.

3. Write And Rewrite Your Goals

Setting your goals is the first step.

Rewriting is the rest of the steps of the trip, as you’ll need to make constant tweaks in order to reach your destination.

That’s why goal setting is a skill.

The more you practice it, the better you’ll get at it.

Write down your goals every day—even if this seems redundant.

The often your rewrite your goals, the clearer and more refined they get.

Doing so also reminds you of what you want to achieve.

4. Turn your Goals into Pictures

Post a picture or a visual representation of your running goals somewhere visible where you can see it on a daily basis.

Take three to five Post-It notes then jot down your top fitness and health goals.

Make sure that each goal is a few words long, just like a mantra.

Run three times a week, for example.

Other examples include:

  • Losing an X amount of pounds,
  • Developing healthy eating habits,
  • Improving running performance,
  • Increasing total body strength,
  • Getting more quality sleep,

Next, print out your goals in big words. Then, post them up on your refrigerator, computer desktop, your wall, or at work.

If you are running as part of a team or club you can also create visuals of the above goals by making custom patches for each goal. You can choose services of a patch manufacturer like UltraPatches to get your patches designed and manufactured in various types for your clubs and teams for every specific goal you want to visualize and use them as rewards and giveaways for achievements to motivate and boost the morale of members.

5. Plan your Running Routine
in Advance

“Action expresses priorities.” Mahatma Gandhi

Plan, to the letter, the type of run, date, time, and place of each session in your daily calendar.

This might be the best time investment you’ll ever make.

For an average month, you might go for a total of 15 to 20 workouts, depending on your schedule and training goals, of course.

Next, schedule your sessions the way you do with your social events and work meetings.

6. Plan Your Gear in Advance

I hate to sound like a broken record, but success does favor the prepared mind.

This is especially the case when trying to become a regular runner.

The better you prepare in advance, the easier you make it on yourself, and the more likely you’re to do it.

I hate to admit it, but the number of times I skipped a run because I couldn’t find my favorite running shirt is quite annoying.

Lay out everything you need for your run—clothes, trainers, water bottle, headphones, armband, general positivity—then place them on the kitchen counter or near your bed, so you always have every ready to go.

At least, never run in a rush so you won’t get irritated before you hit the track.

Here’s how to overcome your running excuses.

7. Draft a Contract

This may seem a bit out there, but drafting a contract can push your motivation to the next level.

This is especially the case when you’re willing to do what it takes to achieve your goals.

Inside of contract, make sure to include the following:

  • Your long term goals
  • Your short terms goals
  • Your exact action plan
  • A list of your excuses
  • Rewards and punishments
  • Date at which you should reach your fitness goals.
  • Your signature and the date of signature

Next, hold yourself accountable for doing what needs to be done in order to apply the terms of the contract in your daily life.

8. Build a Support System

Research shows that building a support system can increase your odds of success.

This support system may include members of your family, friends, colleagues, and workout buddies.

Instead of plodding alone, build a supportive cast of encouraging and like-minded people, whether in person or online.

Just like my girlfriend and I, we try to be as annoying as possible whenever one of us is trying to be a couch potato or reach for the low hanging fruit.

Stay hard!

9. Find A Running Motivation Buddy

Having a running buddy keeps you honest—for both the short term and the long.

In fact, a workout buddy can provide you with a mix of accountability, competition, and support that can virtually ensure success.

Ask everyone—your family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors.

You can also join a local sports club, or go online to find the perfect match.

What’s more?

Make sure you share similar fitness goals and have the same fitness level.

10. Make a Public Commitment

Want to use peer pressure to the max?

Share your goals with others.

Sure, this might not work for everyone, but it’s worth trying as research shows that making such a commitment makes it more likely to achieve one’s goals.

Share your goals with your family members, friends, co-workers, online buddies, then keep them updated on your progress.

11. Have a Killer Running
Motivation Playlist

According to study, listening to music while working out can improve mood, boost athletic performance, and increase consistency.

It also makes your training more fun. You don’t need science to know that.

Choose music within a certain tempo: roughly 120 to 140 bpm, or beats per minute.

You should also update your playlist often to keep it fresh.

Nobody loves listening to the same tracks over and over again.

Additional Resource – Why is my running not improving

12. Reward Yourself Often

Write down a long list of your mini-goals.

Then, write down a suitable reward or treat for every mini-goal.

By suitable I mean, it’s suitable to (1) the size of the goal ( for example, don’t reward completing a 45-minute weight lifting session with a long vacation in Paris).

And (2) does not compromise your ultimate goal—so, for instance, if you’re trying to lose 30 pounds of body fat, don’t reward a short run with a dessert binge.

You’ll only sabotage your results.

Common rewards include:

  • A nice healthy dessert
  • Reading your favorite book
  • Taking a long nap
  • Going to a nice restaurant
  • Binge-watching your favorite show.
  • Getting a message
  • A hot bath

13. Get a Coach

In case you can afford it, get a coach or mentor to work with, especially when you feel like you need more direction.

Here are a few perks of having a personal trainer:

  • Provide you with a structure for your training.
  • Provide you with the tools you need to break through some of your emotional barriers.
  • Learn the correct form and avoid technical mistakes.
  • Hold you accountable for your progress, improve your consistency, and speed up your fitness gains.

14. Keep a Running Journal

Monitoring your training helps you detect a pattern in training, which is vital in uncovering what works the best for performance and injury prevention. This is the case whether you’re a stressed mother, overworked manager, or a busy student.

You can monitor your goals online by using an app like LogMyRun to prompt you to enter data about your training,

After each run, note the following in your running log:

  • Time and distance
  • How you were feeling (physically, emotionally, and mentally)
  • Approximate mileage
  • Running speed
  • Weather conditions
  • Pre-run meal
  • Calorie burn
  • Sets performed

15. Chart Your Progress

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”- Peter Drucker.

Not keeping track of your progress (or lack thereof) is the recipe for stalled results.

It also makes it more likely for you to forget about the little improvements you have made.

Keep track of your progress using a training log or diary.

Or you can also use apps like JEFIT, Fitocracy, or Fitness to keep tabs on weights.

Here’s what to keep track of:

  • Your weekly body weight,
  • Your body measurements,
  • Number of reps and sets along with the weight used on each exercise,
  • Your weekly running mileage,
  • Your daily calorie intake,
  • Before and after pictures,

Websites like MyFitnessPal and Fitbit are also great resources and tools for keeping track.

set running goals to improve your running motivation

16. Use Affirmations

Still, struggling with your running plan?

Try using affirmations.

Affirmations are specific, positive, and empowering statements that can help you overcome negativity, self-sabotage, etc.

Here is a list of some of my favorite affirmations.

  • I love fitness and exercise every day.
  • I am motivated at all times to work out.
  • I embrace success in all areas of life.
  • I am becoming more and more motivated every single day.
  • I find it easy to motivate myself and get myself in the right state of mind.
  • My life is full of purpose and motivation.
  • I feel motivated and am moving in the direction of my fitness dreams.
  • I am a highly motivated person
  • I am highly motivated, ambitious and driven
  • I am always looked up to as someone with high energy, drive, and motivation

17. Act Like it

This is an excellent tool I picked up from the world of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP).

And in essence, it’s the good old fake it until you make it tactic.

According to the “act as if” principle, it’s possible to manifest outer circumstances and conditions by acting “as if” they already happened.

By “acting as if” you already have something you want (even though you might not feel like doing it), you’ll create the conditions for it to manifest in your life with greater ease and possibility.

There is nothing spooky about it.

For instance, we can feel happy by acting as if we are already feeling happy (even if we are miserable as f**).

By doing so, you’ll find it that you actually start to feel motivated for the workout.

18. Use the Stick

Humans are not that complicated when it comes to motivation.

We are either motivated by the things we want—the carrot, or by the things we don’t want—the stick.

What’s more?

Research shows that pain is actually a stronger motivator.

To use the stick, ask yourself the following question:

  • What is the cost (physical, emotional, social, and health-wise) of failing to see your running resolution to fruition?
  • What are you standing to lose by not getting fit?
  • What are the consequences of leading an unhealthy life?
  • Next, write down your answers and revisit them on a daily basis.

19. Put Money On the Line

There are plenty of websites and apps that help you bet on your training goals.

If you don’t want to stay accountable for your action, you lose money or have to donate to a charity whose cause you don’t support.

If you accomplish your goal, you’re either rewarded with a paycheck or donation to your favorite charity.

You can also pre-book your gym sessions—and pay for them in advance.

Or plunk down some money for a race.

Once you prepare an ongoing group class or a personal trainer, you’ll want to show up to get your money’s worth.

20. Take a Recovery Week

Running, especially high-intensity training, can put a lot of stress on your muscles, tendon ligaments, joints, and the nervous system.

By taking time off, you help your body to repair damaged muscle tissues.

Schedule a recovery week every fourth or fifth week of intense training.

Do it in a periodic manner, and you’ll always come on top.

During the recovery week, you’re not allowed to run, lift, or do anything at all.

You only need to go on walks and mind your diet.

There’s no fixed rule on this. Feel free to set goals and recovery on your own.

21. Don’t Skip Your Runs

You might feel tempted to tell yourself, “No biggie, I’ve been running for a few weeks in a row…I’ll just skip it for a couple of days, then I’ll be back on track,” that may harm your running motivation.

Cracks are starting to form, and you’re trying to ignore them.

Make it a rule to not skip a single run, especially during the few first weeks. If it’s on schedule, it has to be done.

If you fail, don’t beat yourself up, nor be harsh on yourself—everyone messes up sometimes.

22. Run in the Morning

Research shows that people who exercise first thing in the morning tend to stay better consistent with their training program.

It’s a matter of priorities.

You’ll be less likely to get distracted in the morning when the rest of the world, especially your children (if you have any), are still asleep.

To make this a reality, set your alarm, put it somewhere it away from reach, lay out everything you need for our morning workout, then go to sleep.

Give it a try! Surely you are going to be addicted.

You can also try running twice a day.

23. Run Commute

Running is a fantastic exercise, but it’s also a great mode of transportation, so try running to or from work.

In some cities, running can be often faster than driving during rush hour.

Who knows, you might end up getting home earlier than you’d normally do taking the public bus.

The first step? Simply stuff your essentials—cash, credit card, ID, phone, etc.—into a runner-friendly backpack or fanny pack and run home from work instead.

Remember: Check for the safest and best routes in your location.

Additional resource – Ice bath for runners

24. Run for Health, Not Just Weight Loss

Lots of people take up running because they want to lose weight.

But regular training benefits go beyond the scale. In fact, if you’re only running to slim down, you’re not seeing the big picture.

Here’s what you stand to gain from exercising regularly:

  • Reduce the risks of chronic diseases,
  • Strengthen your body,
  • Decrease your risk of heart disease,
  • Strengthen your immunity system,
  • Improve productivity,
  • Add years to your life,
  • Fight off mental problems, like depression and anxiety,
  • Boost your endurance and strength,

25. Compare Yourself To Yourself

Being competitive is a good thing, but when you start comparing yourself to others, you might end up doing more harm than good.

This is, of course, something we all do: we look at the guy (or girl) next door and check if they’re doing or having better or more than us.

This achieves nothing but makes us feel bad.

Instead of comparing yourself to other people, build the habit of comparing yourself to yourself.

Yes, it’s a skill that requires practice, patience, and time to fully develop.

But, by building this habit, you’ll learn how to keep the focus on you.

On your own achievements.

On your own results.

And nothing else.

26. Be Grateful

Being a runner is a gift that you should never take for granted. Just think about the last time you got injured and couldn’t go for your 5-mile run. It sucks, doesn’t it?

But are you grateful?

If you’re not, which is likely the case, then

grab a little notebook and start jotting down the things you are grateful for. Begin with the obvious and build it up from there.

These might include:

  • Having a family that supports you,
  • Being able to work out (many people cannot due to serious health issues),
  • Having a roof over your head,
  • Being able to read these words,
  • Waking up this morning,
  • Getting to work on time,
  • Having enough money in your bank account,
  • Not living in a war zone,

27. Don’t Give up

Fall down seven times, get up eight,  Japanese saying .

Running motivation is a fleeting mistress.

It comes and goes. You cannot confine it.

In fact, making mistakes and falling off the fitness wagon is 100 percent normal.

Nothing happens overnight except for failure.

Failure can pull the rug under you without you even noticing anything going wrong until it’s too late.

Please, whatever you do, do not give up.

When all else fails, just keep on going. It’ might just take you a few tries before you make it to the end goal.

Keep on going strong toward achieving your goals.

That’s what matters in the long term—not just some hacks and tactics you picked up from a blog or website.


There you have it! The above running motivation tips should be enough ignite your fire and get you going as fast as possible.

Taking the first step is often the hardest, so the easier you can make that, the more successful you’ll be. The rest is just detail, as the saying goes.

Please feel free to leave your comments and questions in the section below.

Thank you for stopping by! Keep running strong.

David D.

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