As a women’s running coach, and member of a women’s trail running group, I often hear the following complaint: “I don’t seem to have any motivation to run lately.” These words are usually coupled with a sense of failure and in some cases, a consequent state of lethargy and depression.
Think about it. One minute you are setting goals, reaching new milestones in your training, getting faster and stronger, and feeling as if you’re on top of the world. Then all of a sudden something happens, maybe sickness, an injury, or a hectic work schedule. Your training is impeded and eventually comes to a halt. You not only lose all of the gains from your hard work, but you also lose all of the empowering feelings that success and progress stir up in a person.
So what do you do? How do you get your running mojo back?
Step one is identifying the contributing factor or factors to your reversed state of training. Sometimes the answer is not obvious, as it is in the case of injury or illness. Your loss of mojo might be due to a build-up of stress in your personal life, a lack of sleep, or a poor diet. Whatever the case may be, try to accurately pinpoint the cause and make that your starting point to getting back on track.
If none of the above applies, and you’ve simply lost all enjoyment in running, it’s probably time to consider some new strategies in getting yourself out the door. I’ve had my own recent battles with motivation and sometimes running feels like a chore rather than a joy. I’m fortunate however, in that I have the ability to force my thoughts towards the positives and focus on how great I feel after I’m done running. This is enough of an incentive for me to put my running shoes on and start running.
My strategy doesn’t work for everyone though, and that’s something else to realize: what works for one person may not work for another. With that said, let me share with you with a few tips that might help to rekindle your love of running:
Tip #1: Lose the Garmin
If you’re someone who has been running for a long time, then you know for sure what your average running pace is. The problem with this, when you’re in a running funk, is that you will hold yourself to that standard, and your Garmin will be your telltale device. Even if you tell yourself you won’t look at your Garmin, don’t believe it – you will. So, just leave it at home! Run free, at whatever pace feels good and liberating.
Tip #2: Run With a Friend or a Group
This is a no-brainer. Running on your own is therapeutic for many runners, but when you’ve lost your mojo, it’s time to recruit the support of running friends. The advantages are three-fold: making a commitment to meet a running partner makes you accountable; great friendships are formed through running; and time goes fast when you’re running and chatting, and having fun.
Tip #3: Forget About Training and Racing
Are you a runner who typically signs up for races and commits to a training plan? Then it’s possible you’re burnt out and in need of a break. I love to train for races and compete, but I also know that at the peak of my training I will hit a low-point where I feel so tired that I begin to resent having to run. I‘ve learned how to push through these phases and continue training, but it’s necessary for me to schedule some down time between races. If taking a good amount of time off from training and racing is what you need (and be honest about it), then make sure you do yourself the favor. Instead, spend some time participating in cross-training or other activities you might enjoy.
Tip #4: Remember “Get to” and “Got to”
A friend shared this concept in a blog post recently and it’s worth passing on. She said that when she loses motivation to run, she tells herself that running is a privilege. It’s something that she “gets” to do. After all, not everyone has the ability to run. Some are sick, some are crippled, and some have no time. But if you are fully capable of running, then don’t think of it as something that you’ve “got” to do today. Be grateful instead that you have legs that are mobile, lungs that are strong, and a body that is healthy – all of these things mean that you “get” to run today.
Finally, don’t beat yourself up. Losing your mojo is not a weakness. Consider it a “phase” in your running routine, and have hope and confidence, knowing that phases pass.
Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.