Newbie Runners: How to Stay Motivated and Keep Running!
As part of my new blog series on running, this focuses on something which I believe is one of the most important parts of running: motivation.
If you love running then this isn’t a problem for you, as you already have the motivation you need. But plenty of runners (and those who haven’t started yet) want to go out running more often but gradually lose interest or lose motivation over time.
There is no sure fire way to guarantee that you can make someone keep running – especially when the winter months come and the weather would put anyone off.
Stats can keep you motivated to run!
For me, it is all about stats (there is a reason this site is called Gym Geek). I love to make sure I’m beating personal records and that I’m running for longer distances.
And the only way that I know my running stats are thanks to Strava. (There are plenty of other tracking apps that will tell you all the numbers, figures and map routes that you could ever wish for – but Strava works the best for me).
I always keep my Strava heatmap (showing every route I’ve been) updated too (more for biking, I’m trying to cover every single road in my city. I tend to run the exact same routes so it is a bit pointless) and every time I manually update it’ll tell me “Last updated: 2 days ago”. I make a point to keep that number low and make sure I log enough runs to be regularly clicking “update now”.
Have a morning running routine and get out of the house early!
Another method that I find really gets you out of the house (and that is the most difficult part, I believe! Once out it is easy to stay out!) is to have a morning routine. Set an alarm an hour before you normally wake up and go for a run straight away!
Prepare the night before – get your running clothes, shoes and anything else you need, so you can just wake up and quickly get ready to head out. Perhaps have a small snack as soon as you wake (I like having a banana, it gives enough energy for a short run after waking, then I have a full breakfast when I return home).
In my opinion it works so well because you have nothing else to do but the running which you woke up early to do so. If you decide “at 8pm I’ll go for a run”, you might actually be engrossed in a TV show or book at 7.55 pm and not feel like going out.
It does also have the advantage that you get to clear your head as soon as you wake, and you already have a sense of accomplishment before the day has even started.
But the problem with waking up early to run is that it can make the rest of your day a long, tiring day!
It might take a little while to get used to running early in the mornings, but after a few weeks you’ll reset your clock and start waking up without an alarm. (Or, at least, we can be hopeful that you’ll get used to early morning wake-ups!)
If you are running before daylight then make sure to wear reflective clothes (and/or a torch/flashlight)
Find a running buddy – they’ll keep you motivated to join them!
Even if you don’t know any close friends that run, you can probably go online and find a local website that lists runners (or try on Facebook). Either way, you should be able to find someone who is in a similar situation and would like to find a running buddy.
I often find that I actually hate speaking while running. I don’t find it a sociable activity – I prefer headphones in when running, lost in my own thoughts.
But running with someone is fantastic motivation to:
- turn up! You won’t want to let your new running buddy down
- run faster! If you are even a little bit competitive, you won’t want to be running slowly!
- run longer! Similar to my previous point, you won’t want to give up when your running buddy wants to carry on for another 1km!
Join a club or a regular park run
Most cities will have at least one running club. Search online and join them! Having others who regularly run in an organised way will keep you motivated to go and join them!
Another option are ‘park runs’. These are organised free weekly timed runs all over the world. Most cities over around 20,000 people seem to have them. For me, they are every Saturday morning in a park across from my street (very convenient, I must say).
Enter a race!
One of the best motivations to keep running is to enter a race. You will know that if you don’t keep up with training then the race will not be easy for you to complete!
I am not really saying that you should enter a marathon if you’re struggling to keep motivated. But maybe a 5k or 10k!
Don’t get bored! Be sure to vary your routes when running
Running around the exact same 1km route 5 times to get your 5k is not going to be exciting. Maybe the first time you ever did the first 1k it might have been nice. But once you’ve seen the same segment of your run 20 times that week it gets very monotonous.
Find different routes. If you plan on running 10km get a bus 10km away and run home. Going for a run in the woods is a great way to avoid any boredom while running – you’ll constantly be alert when trail running.
Make some bets! If you don’t keep up with your running routine schedule, you lose!
This works for some people, and others think it is silly. But find a friend who you trust and give them $100. Make them promise to give it back only if you can prove (maybe via your Strava activity logs) that you went running as you said you would.
A good tip to not burn out: Take rest days!
You might be super motivated at the moment and want to run 7 days a week. That is great (I mean, don’t overtrain yourself!) but eventually you might just burn out.
Taking some rest days as part of your running routine will let you not get overworked. Maybe you can replace running with cross training one day. For me, I love biking and weight training. But some love swimming, rock climbing or other sports.
An important thing to add to whatever running routine you have: Warming up!
Some people can be easily motivated to keep up with their running schedule, but they neglect or don’t care about warming up. While you might feel that it is ok at the moment to go for a run without warming up, if you keep running long enough one day you’ll get an injury that could have been prevented by warming up correctly.
So whatever you do to keep motivated to run, make sure you don’t forget to keep motivated to do your warmups and cooldowns after a run.
Everyone has their own method to keep running… so I asked some experts from the running blog world!
But my methods won’t work for everyone. So I asked a few expert running bloggers about their tips to stay motivated.
Bryon Powell (iRunFar.com)
I stay motivated to run by enjoying the natural environment while I run and thinking of the adventures and experiences will allow me to enjoy in the future.
Noelle De Guzman (Kikay Runner)
Staying motivated to keep running is easy if you celebrate the small achievements. I know when most of us start running, we have some big goals in mind, like losing a chunk of weight or eventually running a marathon. But from couch to the finish line is a long way away and I can understand how most can lose interest after only a few weeks. So start small. Mark the calendar every day you get to run, even if it's only for 15 minutes (and you don't have to run all the way through; walk breaks are OK!). Pretty soon you'll feel really good about seeing all those X's in a row.
Another thing that causes people to stop running is boredom. I find that running to music really helps as it makes the time pass quicker and you'll be done even without realizing it. You can also spice things up by running varied paces instead of trudging along at one speed. If you're running outdoors, you can sprint to a nearby bush or lamppost, then jog to the next one, and then sprint again. (This is called "fartlek" or "speedplay" running.) As a bonus, these intervals will also make you a fitter and faster runner!
And if you're really struggling to find motivation to run, sign up for a small, short race. Crossing that finish line gives you a real high, and you'll find yourself seeking it out more and more. Now that's what I call a healthy addiction.
Maria (Running Myself Together)
I’ve been running for years now, and rarely lose the motivation to run. I attribute that to having found a tool that helps me with my anxiety and depression. Running helps settle my mind, so I run when my mind needs it, along with when my body needs it. For a newbie runner, I have a couple tips. 1) Create mini goals - your big goal may be to run a half marathon, but along the way you may lose inspiration. Have smaller mini goals like to run a mile a little fast than the last mile, to run with a running group for one of your long runs, etc. 2) Speaking of friends, find a group of running friends who will help keep you motivated. 3) Have an intention and purpose for each run and remind yourself of that each time you want to stop.
Jason (Strength Running)
Sometimes it can be hard to motivate yourself to run if you're not sure why you're running in the first place. Finding a race to run about 3-4 months away is one of the most effective ways to force yourself to commit to running.
That's because racing is just a natural extension of training. If you have a race on the calendar, you have to do the training if you want to do well. This "forcing function" improves accountability, motivation, and even results! Put that race on the calendar and plan accordingly. You'll be a whole new runner in just a few months.
Ruggero (Running Shoes Guru)
Staying motivated is a very frequently asked question and I am glad to give my take.
Motivation is fickle, discipline is what you need to keep running without slacking off. If you need to be motivated to go running, there will be many days where you are tired, the weather is too hot or too cold, there's this one thing you need to finish at home... Trying to find motivation every time you run is difficult and a sure way to skip many workouts.
Discipline, on the other hand, is a continuous commitment that you make to yourself. Establish precise days and time of the day when you will run. Have your trainings marked on the calendar or an app. And when the scheduled run comes up, just do it with no questions or no negotiations with yourself. Don't postpone it to tomorrow, don't say "i'll do it later". Just have a routing and stick to it.
Anne (fANNEtastic food)
The key for me is making running fun rather than a chore! That usually means meeting other people for the run so it feels like a coffee date via our running shoes, but I also love exploring new areas - running is a great way to get out and enjoy nature or to see more of your hometown! Try to re-frame running as something you WANT to do/CAN do vs. HAVE to do.
Dennis (Running Pinoy)
Keep it interesting: run in places you haven't been before, try doing it at different times (sunrise, sunset, etc.), or set new goals to achieve (e.g. faster 5K, longer distance, etc.). Having running buddies or joining running clubs also help.
I would also recommend tracking your progress and once you accomplish a milestone, treat yourself! If these aren't enough, maybe recalling why you started running can drive you back.
They had a few varied techniques – but all were very good tips from very experienced runners.
Hopefully some of their ideas will help you out. You should definitely check out their blogs, Twitter or other social networking links (all of which can be found above) if you are interested in running!
If you have any tips or methods please leave a comment below!
The admin staff at Gym Geek are all gym rats who love to share their fitness advice and knowledge!