How to motivate yourself to go for a run, especially when it’s the last thing you want to do, is something that a lot of people ask me.
We’ve all been there. You set yourself a goal to go for a run but you just can’t bring yourself to do it.
You think of a million and one reasons NOT to go and quickly convince yourself that extra 30 minutes in bed are so worth it.
There have been many times in my life when I’ve procrastinated as if it was a sport in itself.
I’ve even had times where I’ve fallen out of love with running completely which made the prospect of going for a run all the more harder.
Every time I come home from a run, I feel much better for doing it – so why do I still let my myself get in my own way?
Sadly, there isn’t a magic formula that will get you out of the door. You just have to find a routine that works for you.
You’ll probably find this routine will change over time, and life will get in the way sometimes, and that’s ok!
To make this process a little easier, I’d like to share some of the tips and techniques that I’ve found useful over the years when it comes to motivating yourself to go for a run.
Some days it’s very easy to get out and enjoy it, other days it seems like the hardest thing ever!
Whatever your reasons for going for a run, I hope you find these useful.
How to motivate yourself to go for a run
Just get up and go
There have been lots of times where I’ve put off going for a run.
Whilst I procrastinated, I could’ve completed my run, got showered, and got dressed again and carried on with my day.
I thought of all the things under the sun that I could be doing.
Don’t let your mind overtake your original intention of getting out there and hitting the road.
Decide on a route, commit to it, then go! Depending on the distance, you’re normally home within 30-45 minutes which is no time at all.
Schedule for run like an appointment
When life gets busy, a good way to make time for running is to schedule it like any other appointment in your diary.
This way you can fit all your other tasks and activities around this slot.
This is especially handy when you have a full-time job (like me) or a family.
A few years ago when I worked for my previous company, I was finding that people were putting meetings in my calendar between 4-6pm.
Although fine, it meant that I couldn’t leave on time some days to go for my evening run when I got home from work.
So I ended up blocking 5-6pm out in my calendar so I could make time for my run.
If you struggle to go for a run in the evening due to work or family commitments, consider scheduling your runs in the morning before you go to work or at lunch times.
Join a running group
Joining a running group is a great way to motivate yourself and make you feel accountable to go for a run with others on a regular basis.
They also offer a great support network in return!
The key is to find a group that works for you and that matches your goals and running experience.
If you’re looking to really enhance your running, consider joining a group organised by an athletics club.
These tend to focus on making you a better runner at all levels, including looking at your breathing, posture and endurance.
If you’d prefer a more informal social group, you can normally find some listed on apps like Meetup, RunTogether and Facebook.
Many groups organise social activities too – whether it be coffee and cake or a pint at your local – these are all great incentives to finish your run!
Run with a friend
If you’re not quite ready to join a running group, find a friend to go running with you.
A good friend can be a great source of support and motivation on your run.
With the great outdoors as your playground, you may find it a better environment in which to talk about your day or your week ahead.
I love Parkrun because it’s free and gives you a great reason to get up on a Saturday morning.
Before I found Parkrun, I would often procrastinate on a Saturday morning and delay my weekend run to a much later time in the day.
Now I look forward to my run every Saturday, and by 10am I can say I’ve ran 5k.
You can register for your local Parkrun by visiting www.parkrun.org.uk
Related: What to expect at your first Parkrun
Plan your route
Another great way to motivate yourself is to plan a new and exciting route.
Run somewhere where you haven’t been before and explore your surroundings.
When I lived in central Cambridge, I used to love running along the Backs as it had beautiful views of Kings College and the surrounding colleges.
The thought of this always got me excited for a run.
Of course, with any route the imperative should be your own safety, so don’t go taking yourself off somewhere if you feel unsure about it.
And ALWAYS tell someone where and when you’re going.
Take a run selfie
When I started my Instagram years ago, it soon became a great source of motivation as I loved reporting back on my runs with a run selfie.
As a runner, you come across some beautiful scenery that cyclists and motorists often don’t get to see if you’re off the beaten track.
I know a lot of runners who have started Instagram accounts that focus on their running exploits.
This is certainly true for me!
Track your run
You could also consider tracking your runs to provide more accountability and a great record of your runs.
It’s hugely motivating to see all your previous runs and see how far you’ve come in a short space of time.
If you’re looking for something that’s a bit more fun, try an app like Zombies, Run! which imagines you are running from a zombie epidemic.
There are also other apps like Run the World that allow you to do ‘virtual’ runs in the USA, Europe and Australia.
Going for a run is a huge achievement! And with any achievement, there comes a reward.
We all have different ways to reward ourselves, whether it be a hot shower when you get home or a sweet treat.
If you prefer a more ‘formal’ approach, consider a reward system.
I once had a friend who put a gold star sticker on her calendar to mark the days she had gone for a run.
I thought this was a brilliant idea as she clearly got satisfaction from it.
No matter what your reward, you should always congratulate yourself for investing in your physical and mental wellbeing.
Running offers many health benefits, and I guarantee you will feel better afterwards.