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Running & Other High Impact

Running Motivation: 10 Tips When You Don’t Feel Like Running

There are very few people who love running all the time. At some point, most of us need some type of running motivation to lace up our shoes and get out there. Since running can be a great cardio workout with mental and stress relieving benefits, it is worth fighting through the desire not to run. Here are some tips to give you a new reason to get out and run even when you aren’t feeling like it.

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1. Listen to new podcasts, audiobooks, training plan, or a playlist

This is my favorite tip because what you are listening to can really impact your run: try something new. Don’t listen to the same old playlist. If music is your thing, build a new upbeat playlist. Consider starting a training plan, such as through Aaptiv, which has motivating coaches paired with great music (there are a ton of genres to choose from).

If you normally listen to music when you run and it’s getting old try listening to a podcast or audiobook. Podcasts that are stories, funny, or engaging are the best ones to take your mind off your run. A good book from Audible is also another great option to find a story to get immersed in.

2. Think positively of the benefits from running: physical health, mental benefits, getting outside, etc.

There are so many reasons to run. It can be great cardio that might be a breath of fresh air from your usual routine (whether it be spinning, swimming, elliptical, etc.) and works different muscles in your body. If you’re used to running, you might have seen some weight loss or muscle toning. For me, it doesn’t happen every time but sometimes I do feel a “runner’s high” when I’m done. I feel elated and accomplished – something that I don’t get from any other cardio activity.

If you can, I also encourage you to run outside. There are so many mental benefits from being outdoors and it can make a run feel totally different than if you were running on a treadmill. Choose a good weather day if you aren’t used to running outside. It might totally change your perspective on running.

3. Start a virtual running game

If you aren’t familiar with running game apps, they can be amazingly fun motivators to get you out and running. My favorite is Zombies, Run! a popular app that puts you in the role of a survivor in a world overrun with zombies. You are a runner who helps with missions, such as picking up valuable items in different locations and interacting with other surviving townships.

Each mission is around 30-40 minutes which is the perfect amount of time for a quick run, but you can also adjust it to your time or distance you’re looking to do. You mainly listen to your own music and will get pop-up story updates or pick up items notifications as you run. Even if you’re not a zombie/Walking Dead fan (I’m not) you should still give this app a try. There is a free option that limits you to an episode a week, so you have nothing to lose. They also occasionally offer virtual races, which is a great reason to get out and do a few extra miles.

Some other games you can try are Run an Empire where you capture places and compete against other people, Fit for Battle (IOS only RPG, Android in development), and Pokemon Go (meant for walking but some uses in running such as finding new pokemon, gyms, or hatching eggs).

4. Just get out there: don’t think about it, commit to a short run with no pressure

Sometimes this is the simplest tip when you are lacking running motivation: just don’t think about it, go out there and run. For many runners they will not feel fulfilled unless if they meet a certain distance or time. Do not hold yourself accountable to finish anything. Sometimes simply getting out there and doing one mile is enough. More often than not, when I start running with no distance goal in mind I end up running longer than I anticipated.

5. Run with a friend, family, or household member

This has been my running motivation as of late. Finding a household member (or friend or group, when allowed) will encourage you to hold each other accountable for running. Schedule it ahead of time, for instance a weekend morning when it’s nice weather (that’s our preference) will really make you get out there. No one wants to be the person left behind because they “didn’t feel like it”.

6. Set goals and reward yourself

This is a popular training tool when you have to log a certain amount of miles for race preparation. It can be applied to daily running too, though. Set realistic goals for yourself and if you meet them, reward yourself with a new piece of clothing, a good meal, a spa day – whatever motivates you to run. It can be as simple as saying you want to run one day a week for a month, then at the end of the month treat yourself to a new pair of cool running glasses (like these from Goodr) or a new running watch (this is my favorite affordable watch from Garmin). This will hold you accountable to a running schedule or plan, especially if you make your goals obtainable.

Looking for ideas on how to reward yourself? Here’s a list of some of my favorite running accessories.

Running colorful stairs

7. Run a new route

If you are a current runner, you probably are used to a few key routes near your house or nearby area. If you don’t run regularly, you might be wondering where to even begin. No matter which level you are at: look to run new routes and get out there. It can be really fun to explore new places or run further on routes that you never had before. I’ve uncovered some really beautiful locations in New York City I wouldn’t have found if I didn’t decide to take my long runs up North (I usually go South). Strava is my running app of choice and can even help you find new routes to run. Another great resource for finding new routes is Map My Run.

8. Join a running group

Running groups are best when you can physically run with them, as they normally have meetups that help you commit to running at a certain time. Even if now is not the best time to run with non-household members, don’t let that stop you. Consider joining online one of these groups, which have message boards and passionate communities. The social connection of being able to talk to fellow runners, or being updated on the latest running news, brings the running camaraderie that can be very motivating.

Need a motivating running group to join? Try the BFB Virtual Buddy Group which is an online program where you will be matched with a running buddy with similar running goals (could be anything from exercise to racing). Having a buddy is guaranteed to motivate you to run.

9. Make it social online: interact with friends and family with social media, join a running challenge or race

In this digital world I sometimes ask myself, did I actually run if no app captured it? When my apple watch died during an extremely cold half marathon a few years ago I felt like I almost didn’t run it, half the pride in racing is being able to share it! Find an app that works for you. My favorite is Strava but Nike Run Club app is also very popular. You can follow friends and family, take pictures, write comments – even if you are running alone (or prefer to run alone) you can still make running social.

Running challenges or virtual races are also great. Strava has a ton of these. Some other options: mentioned previously, Zombies Run hosts virtual races that you can participate in, Gone for a Run virtual races (some registration fees go towards charity), and Virtual Run Events virtual races (fees go to charity).

10. Get some running motivation from inspirational running quotes

If all else fails, inspirational running quotes can always help put things in perspective.

“Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it.”

— Oprah Winfrey

“If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.”

Fred DeVito

“Running is alone time that lets my brain unspool the tangles that build up over days.”

Rob Haneisen

“Remember, the feeling you get from a good run is far better than the feeling you get from sitting around wishing you were running.”

Sarah Condor

Related Running Posts

Have you discovered any new ways to motivate yourself to run?


  • Nick

    I’ve probably used all of these along the way!
    Another one to add to the list. Make the alternative worse. 🙂 For example, you have to clean up your email inbox. haha.

    • Michelle

      Haha, that is a great one! Going to have to think through a list of alternatives next time I’m really not feeling it.

  • Marjorie

    These are great ideas. I especially love listening to something while I run. Also, running for others eg raise money or awareness. Thanks for sharing.

    • Michelle

      Thanks Marje! I’m totally with you, listening to something when I run is so important. I’m envious of those who can run without anything.

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