19 Ways to Stoke Your Running Motivation
From dirtbag weekends to vision boards to adventure runs, here is a collection of tried-and-true methods for rekindling your running fire
Some days, I wake up humming with excitement at the prospect of lacing up my running shoes and hitting the trails.
Other days, I feel far more enticed by the prospect of, say, eating pancakes in my pajamas. Or, I get sucked into computer-screen land and realize only too late that I’ve spent my whole day indoors—because sometimes it’s just hard to gather the motivation to get out for a run.
But once I’m out running, of course, I never think, “Darn, what a mistake this was!” On the contrary, I’m always grateful for my decision. If you’re anything like me, though, sometimes you just need a little help getting out the door.
Here are 19 ways to help you get psyched for your next run.
1. Plan a “dirtbag weekend.”
Sometimes lack of motivation stems from feeling stale in your routine—running-related or otherwise. You don’t have to quit your job and move into a van, though, to enjoy the perks of being a dirtbag runner. Instead, plan a weekend-warrior road trip to travel somewhere new and explore trails you’ve never visited before. This can be a solo endeavor, an adventure with friends or a miniature vacation with the whole family to camp out and explore new outdoor spaces.
2. Discover a new route.
Alternately, you can explore closer to home, too. If you always run the same loop, run it backwards. Try commuting to work on foot, if that’s a possibility. If you live in an urban area, skip the usual running thoroughfares and take different side streets on your next training run. Many apps can help you find new routes, too.
3. Devour some trail-running media.
There have never before been so many forms of trail-running-related media to gorge on whenever you need a little boost to get out the door. From magazines like this one to videos to books to blogs to podcasts (which you can even listen to while running), there’s no shortage of content to get you pumped up. If you’re training for a race, look for media or race reports about that particular event. Just don’t get so sucked into the YouTube vortex that you never make it out the door!
4. Leave your gadgets at home.
The more steps we have to take to get ready for a run, the more overwhelming the prospect can be. Take a break from all extraneous running gear—your phone, camera, GPS watch, heart-rate monitor, FitBit, headphones, gaiters, compression socks and whatever else—and just run. Revel in the purity of our simple sport.
5. Volunteer to build or maintain trails.
Sharing a sense of responsibility for the trails you run can have a great impact. Find a local trail-work party by reaching out to local trails organizations, race directors, running, hiking or mountain-biking groups, or your local Forest Service office. If your hometown lacks trails, here’s a primer on how to build a trail town from scratch.
6. Sign up for a race.
For those of us who thrive on having a specific goal to strive toward, nothing channels running stoke as much as a race on the horizon. From a motivation standpoint, the best race is two to three months away—ample time to train in a meaningful way for it, but not so far off on the horizon that you can procrastinate. Find your next trail race here.