8 Motivational Tricks To Motivate Your Next Run

by Rachel Tavel
Originally Published: 
Woman hiking in the mountains.
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It happens to the best of us. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or a motivated newbie just trying to get started, there are plenty of days when you just don’t feel like doing anything, much less like going for that run. (Yes, it’s true: Runners don’t always feel like running!). Sometimes, life gets busy, the weather gets ugly, and the temptation to watch Netflix instead of lacing up and heading outside can be stronger than the will to work out.

If I learned anything from my days as a college rower (hello, 5 a.m. workouts in the freezing Maine rain!), it’s that sometimes, less thinking and more doing is the only way to go. Don’t sit around waiting for the moment when you feel like going for a run, because that moment may never come. The trick is to just go, even when you don’t feel like running.

Running out of excuses yet? (See what I did there?) Let’s not forget the many health benefits of running. And have I mentioned the emotional benefits of running? If these reasons aren’t motivating enough, then it’s time for some additional help.

Here are eight tried and tested tricks to motivate you to get out the door when you just don’t feel like going for a run.

1. Just Go.

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This might seem like an obvious one — maybe even too obvious — but it’s that simple. Don’t give yourself a choice! Don’t let yourself think about the alternatives. Decide you’re going to run, commit to it, and practice drowning out any conflicting thoughts.

When I used to have to wake up at 5 a.m. to be on the water before sunrise, I came up with a life hack: I'd sleep in my workout clothes! When that alarm went off in the morning, I knew it was go time, no matter how dark or cold the morning was. There was no thinking, no deliberating, no considering how I felt – I just went. We all did. Each night, I’d set my alarm so I could sleep as long as possible while still allowing myself the seven minutes I needed to get up, use the bathroom, brush my teeth, grab a banana, and get out the door. Preparing the night before left little time for excuses. So don’t think, just go.

2. Schedule Your Run Into Your Day Like It's An Appointment You Can’t Miss.

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When life gets so busy that it feels like there isn’t time to workout (trust me — we're all busy), look at your calendar for the week, find that one hour time slot you need (or even just 20 minutes!), and schedule it into your Google calendar or whatever e-calendar you are using these days. Unlike that annual teeth cleaning, you’ll be excited for this appointment. And like a consultation with your dentist, you may feel just the right amount of guilt if you skip out.

3. Plan Around Your Workout.

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This goes hand-in-hand with tip number two! It’s easy to prioritize everything else — that dinner date, that movie you wanted to see, that happy hour you were planning to go to, that book you were going to finish… but what about that run you were planning to go for?! If not for your present self, do it for your future self who will look back and say, “Thank you for going on that run.”

The weeks come and go, but the feeling that comes after a good run stays with you for days. (Sure, your social calendar might hate this one, but that’s why you need some runner friends!)

4. Reward Yourself For Going.

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We all have different ways of rewarding ourselves — maybe it’s splurging on a too-expensive juice, maybe it’s buying a few macaroons on your way home (just me? Ok then...), or maybe it’s letting yourself splurge on those sophisticated spandex you’ve been eying on your walk home from work. Maybe all it takes is an old-school sticker to keep you motivated (yeah, I said sticker — who misses stickers?!).

That said, reward yourself: Put a calendar on your fridge and stick a fun sticker on every day of the week that you run. Then look back at your month, and give yourself a pat on the back for all the stickers up there. That is your hard work (and dare I say, artwork?) displayed on the fridge. Create a system where a certain number of stickers per month earns you an even bigger reward! Regardless of what that “reward” is, give yourself a pat on the back because the best reward is that you’ve been good to your body, and your self.

5. Get Some Fun Workout Clothes.

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It may seem silly, but there is something about wearing brand-spanking-new gear when we workout that makes us feel good doing it. If you bought some awesome new running tights, don’t you just want to wear them ASAP? Whether it’s a new pair of sneakers, a pretty sports bra, or just a loose fitting tank top that makes you feel powerful, put it on and take it for a test run (literally). Look good, feel good, run more.

6. Commit To A Running Group’s Weekly Run.

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Sometimes, we need outside factors to make us feel accountable. Join a running group (or even a social group with a running problem!), commit to a weekly run, and turn working out into a social activity. Many running groups combine running with happy hour or brunch, so find the group that works for you! Before you know it, you’ll be looking forward to your workouts — even if it’s mostly for the beers you'll share with your new friends after the run.

7. Download Some Motivational Music.

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I don’t know about you, but when I’m feeling sluggish, the right song blasting in my room can really give me the push I need to get out the door. There are so many playlists out there these days. There are even some that use music to pace longer runs. Pick the playlist that works for you, and feel free to secretly star in your own motivational video while you’re running. Nobody needs to know it’s happening but you.

8. Remember: It’s Always Worth It.

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It’s so hard to get out the door, but know that you will, without a doubt, feel like a better version of yourself when you walk back in the door after that run you almost didn’t do. This is a fact. If you’ve tried everything and nobody else’s tricks help you, it’s time for you to motivate yourself. Next time you go on a run, write down why you did it, how you felt afterwards, and if you’re glad you went. Do this every time you run. Then, on that day when you’re not sure you feel like going, pull out that list and read it to yourself. Then slowly put on the right music, slip into your favorite workout clothes, get those stickers ready, and block off the next hour... because it's time to get moving.

Every run is for you, and nobody else. It is the reward. Remember that.

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