Your running motivation is a fickle thing.
Sometimes it’s burning bright, powering you through dark and cold early morning runs.
At other times, it’s nowhere to be seen – and it feels impossible to muster the enthusiasm to even put on your running shoes.
If you’re currently suffering from a lack of running mojo, then take heart in the fact that you’re in good company.
At some point, practically every runner out there has lost their sense of innate motivation for running.
You may be suffering from burnout, whether from overtraining or simply from overwhelm in different areas of your life.
Or it could be that you’ve just lost the enthusiasm you once had for running.
You want to be an enthusiastic runner, but when it comes time to perform you just can’t find the energy.
Even if and when you eventually go for a run, things don’t feel the same. Your pace is shot, you’re bored, and you’re constantly looking to cut short your run and just go home.
Losing your running mojo can have a serious impact on your well-being – which sucks.
So let’s explore some possible reasons for losing that running motivation, then look at ways to get it back – and get back to your old self.
Let’s jump in!
How To Regain Your Running Mojo
Here are our recommendations for rekindling your running motivation – they might not all work for you, so pick the ones which you feel could help and try them out!
1. Ensure You’re Booking Proper Downtime
Often overlooked by runners – especially those with Type-A personalities – is the value of putting aside time for recovery, and relaxation.
We often spend too much of our waking hours in a ‘fight or flight’ state; whether it’s during exercise, or in a stressful environment.
While it might seem trivial at first, constantly being in this ‘fight or flight’ state (also known as a sympathetic state) inhibits your recovery process. Rack this up for a few days without any relaxing time, you can kill your running motivation and you’re heading towards physical and mental burnout.
Spending some time each day in a relaxed state means your brain is producing dopamine – the ‘happiness chemical‘ – and sending signals to your body to repair broken down tissues, relieve stress levels, and encourage sleep.
So book some active relaxation in your daily schedule – whether it’s hanging out with friends and family, Netflix binges, or a walk in nature (which you don’t log on Strava).
- Related: 20 Running Motivation Quotes
2. Stop Tuning Out Of Your Run (Ditch the Phone)
When running becomes a regular part of your routine, it’s common to start to find it a little monotonous.
Cue the earphones, and a good podcast / audiobook / Cyndi Lauper / artist of your choice.
While listening to audio can be a good way to make the most of your time on the trails, it often leads us to ‘tune out’ (or dissociation) of the run.
When we do this, we’re actively seeking to numb ourselves from the outside world, the here and now.
Over time, this creates the association in our brain that running is simply an obligation – something that we have to get through, and need to find ways to make it as painless as possible.
Well, guess what? It’s not true.
We’ve made running boring by choosing to force it into the background.
Next time you go for a run, leave the smartphone at home.
Improve your running motivation – focus on your breath, your steps, and listening to the ambiance.
3. Run For Yourself
Strava – and other activity tracking apps – are awesome tools.
However, they can be responsible for changing how you think about running.
Resist the temptation to compare your progress with other runners, or feel you’re being judged by your performance.
It’s easy to get into the mindset that you should be constantly bagging new PRs for different segments, or show a constant rate of improvement.
But this is an unhealthy habit – you’re mixing your reasons for running with external opinions. When you’re always running to try to impress or improve, it’s natural that you’ll eventually burn out.
Take the time to run for yourself, regardless of the pace or results – and you’ll feel your running motivation soar.
4. Change The Scenery
Running the same routes every day can become monotonous, and it’s easy to get stuck in a rut.
Give your running mojo a temporary shot in the arm by finding somewhere new to run.
Always running in town?
Take some transport and head off to find some trails.
Being surrounded by nature has also been shown to boost your mojo.
5. Mix Up Your Run Training
A huge risk for regular runners is that they get into a running routine, where they run the same distance and same pace every day.
Over time, their pace becomes a solemn trudge, their workout becomes monotonous.
I’ve been there, doing my 25 minute 5k’s every day. After a while it gets boring, and you lose the spark that drives your running performance.
Sometimes it’s necessary to shake up your running a little.
Introduce a new element, like hill repeats or intervals – they engage different muscles and wake things up a little.
It’s nice to go from a monotonous plod to an all-out sprint from time to time; it reminds you of what running is all about.
Not a fan of speed work? Try a tempo run, or a long slow run instead where you push the boundaries of how far you feel you can run – and boost your running motivation.
6. Cross Train
Still finding that you are just bored with all those miles?
Does the idea of putting on your running shoes repel you?
Don’t turn running into something you don’t enjoy – take the necessary time away from it.
(I’m speaking from experience here!).
Instead, redirect your athletic leanings towards cross training.
Whether it’s running-related resistance and strength training, swimming, yoga, or something completely different – find a different activity that gives you energy, as opposed to drawing it away.
Running will always be there for you to come back to.
7. Take The Necessary Time Off Running
Don’t have the motivation to cross train, or do anything?
You might be suffering from burnout – a condition that is as much a mental / emotional one as a physical one.
Some common symptoms of burn-out include reduced appetite, trouble sleeping, inhibited athletic performance and irritability.
If this sounds like you, then the best remedy is rest and relaxation.
Try to find something that gives you energy, whether it’s walks in nature or reading.
Let go of the pressure to perform and maintain your running fitness – it will always be available for you, but if you continue to try and train through burnout, it’s likely you’ll just suffer more.
8. Buy New Gear
To get a quick motivational ‘shot in the arm‘, go and buy yourself some nice new running shoes or treat yourself to the latest GPS watch.
While the affects won’t necessarily be long lasting, having some new gear to play with can temporarily excite and encourage you to push on.
9. Find Your Tribe
Running with a group, or one other person, is a totally different experience to running alone.
You’ve got company, you stick together, you share a pace and some conversation.
Studies have shown that running with others can improve your performance – but it also keeps you motivated and helps the time pass faster too.
If you’re feeling the pain from running alone all the time, consider finding a running buddy – or join your local running club.
10. Be Inspired By Others
Another way to give your running motivation a shot-in-the-arm is to expose yourself to inspirational stories.
Whether it’s listening to an ultrarunning hero like David Goggins talk about his relentless passion for never giving up, or watching Kristina Paltén’s moving TED Talk How To Dance With Life, there are plenty of stories out there to inspire your running journey.
Looking for something to read instead?
Many people were inspired by the book Born To Run, to either try ultra-running, minimalist running, or a bit of both.
11. Try a 7 Day Running Challenge
In search of something that will act like a defibrillator to your running mojo?
If you want to push your limits, do something uncomfortable, and form new healthy routines and habits, consider our 7-Day Running Mindset and Motivation Challenge!
What You Have To Do:
Wake up early every morning and go for a 30 minute run: first thing.
What You Will Receive:
- A structured 7-day challenge plan
- Daily check-ins with guidance, support, and supplemental challenges
- Access to exclusive video guides on mindset and motivation
- Access to our Facebook group to share progress and accountability, and ask questions
- Printable 7-day calendar
Have you struggled with losing your running mojo?
Share your experiences and suggestions below – leave a comment!