Running Motivation Techniques

15 motivation techniques that will keep you focused and training towards your running goals. While some of these techniques may not be much on their own, collectively they can help keep you going through the sometimes seemingly endless weeks and months of training towards a dedicated running goal.

  1. Set Meaningful and Challenging Goals – Listed first on purpose, this is probably the most important of all motivation techniques listed. Picking the right goals that you can get emotionally involved really helps you to refocus when training gets tough during your busy life schedule. When you think about your goal, it should excite and even scare you a little. It’s this fear that helps motivate us to prepare!
  2. Set short term goals (daily, weekly, monthly) – Some training programs can be up to 24 weeks in length. That’s an extremely long time to hold your focus so setting monthly short term goals can keep you motivate along the way.
  3. Run with MusicMusic is a great motivator! Use it for your whole run or for the second half of a long run as a reward! You can even go one step further and build a mix of running music that helps you keep a good cadence.
  4. Run in a group – I’m not a huge fan of always running in a group as we are all individuals in training who are progressing at different rates. This means that some of us will not be working hard enough for a training effect while others may be working too hard. Running with others once or twice a week however gives you the opportunity to bond with other runners and chit chat while the miles tick away. It can also be a contagious motivation technique. Small things like having a set time to meet others also holds you accountable! If someone doesn’t show you can give them a hard time.
  5. Vary training intensity – This technique is both physically as well mentally important. Running slow all the time trains you to run slow. Intervals, hills, pacing runs are all exhilarating work outs that improve your speed, stimulate burn fat and keep things exciting.
  6. Vary training route and terrain – Running in circles or the same route day in and day out can get so mundane. Explore new routes and try running point to point routes such as from work to home. These can be motivating as you need to get to where you’re going!
  7. Provide visual stimulation – Of all the motivation techniques mentioned this one applies solely to the treadmill. If you train on a treadmill at home, try and place your treadmill in a room of the house that’s visually pleasing not a dingy end of the basement facing an unfinished wall! If you can, have a TV/DVD player propped in front for you to look at. You’d be surprised at how enjoyable a run can be while watching a movie and you’ll be more motivated to hit the treadmill if you’re looking forward to it. .
  8. Acquire fresh gear – Whether you’re motivated out of guilt because of the amount of money you just spent on your new shoes, or because they feel great compared to your last pair of kicks, updating some of your gear can be a great motivation technique to helps you to look forward to your runs in comfort.
  9. Post Your Goals – Making your goals visible provides a daily reminder of what you’re after. Looking at your goals at the beginning of the day is a great way to make your run a priority in your busy schedule.
  10. Keep a log – Keeping track of what you’ve accomplished, like ticking off a to-do list item can be very motivating. You are also building a valuable library of information that you can refer back to later if you wanted to see some details about what training strategies worked well for you.
  11. Read stories and articles – Reading about the training strategies, follies and even physical challenges overcome by other runners can be very motivating. You can also pick up different training tips and tricks to try to keep things fresh as you work towards your goals.
  12. Take Well Deserved Breaks – After working so hard to get into a training routine, it seems counter intuitive to take time off from running. However, recovery and down time is as much a mental break as it is a physical. Taking time off from running helps to contribute to a feeling of looking forward to running again.
  13. Help others – Giving advice and coaching to help others reach their running goals is gratifying and inspiring. This will motivate you to keep at your training as you never know who’s looking up to you!
  14. Run for a Cause – This is one of my personal favorites. When you get emotionally attached to a goal that is also serving to help others, nothing can stop you.

  15. Get a Dog that Needs Exercise! - This technique is not for everyone. You simply may not have the means, opportunity and space to responsibly own a dog that you can take running. Or, maybe you already own a pet or two but not the running kind. (...hey Pugs do have their charm!) Why then, is this listed as a motivation technique? Dogs often get you off your butt and moving when nothing else can. Personally, acquiring a Vizsla (one of the many loves of my life) started me on a journey of trail running and racing that I would likely not have otherwise taken. Little compares to observing the ultimate joy in your dog's face as she leaps through the bush soaking in all of the sights, sounds and smells of the outdoors. This is truly a win-win scenario!


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