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How to Stay Motivated to Run When You Don’t Want To

Let’s be honest, most of us don’t really like running. I’m one of those people. I would rather be in the gym lifting weights, and if I absolutely must do cardio, I would rather opt to ride a bicycle or use the elliptical.

When I was asked to write this article, I knew I had to go to the source. That place deep down inside of me that I seldom share with other people. There I could find the “why” behind my disdain for running; and I did.

Ultimately, I don’t really like running because I don’t feel like I am good at it. I mean, if we are all being honest with each other, very few people enjoy doing things they don’t excel at.

On the other hand, I love motorcycle racing. Despite the physical toll it takes on my body, I would and happily do race motorcycles for hours on end with no regrets because I feel like I am good at it.

But this article isn’t about motorcycle racing. So, let’s get back to the topic at hand: running.

One secret I discovered that helped me get over my psychological issues with running is that not many people are naturally ‘good’ at running. Just like anything, running takes practice. If you expect yourself to be good at running from the get-go, you are setting yourself up for failure.

With that behind us, here are some of the ways I stay motivated to run when I don’t want to.

Stick to a Schedule
I have found that having a set time each day to work out is critical. Based on my health goals and personal preferences, I lift weights Monday, Wednesday and Friday during my lunch hour and I do ‘cardio’ on Tuesday and Thursday evenings after my kids go to bed. I have consistently stuck with this schedule for over 4 years now, and when I miss a day I truly feel like a part of me is missing.

Note: Experts suggest it takes 21 days of consistent behavior to make a habit. Don’t give up.

Don’t Think About It
I love lifting weights so when my weight training days come around I get excited and look forward to going to the gym. Cardio, on the other hand, I don’t like as much. When Tuesday or Thursday roll around I typically dread my workout all day, and when it comes time to go for my run, I am already in the “This is not going to be fun” mindset.

Guess what? When I am in that mindset, it isn’t fun at all.

I have discovered that if I don’t think about my workout at all during the day, then lace my shoes up as soon as my kids are in bed, I actually enjoy my run.

Find the Value in Your Run
We all know that cardio is good for you, but to stay motivated to run you must personally find value in it. To find value, you must go beyond the “well, it’s good for me” or “It helps me lose weight” reasons.

In my own personal experience, I have found that exercising with the sole intention to lose weight doesn’t motivate me. Instead, I find value in exercising because it helps me feel good about myself, and more importantly for myself, it helps me be a better motorcycle racer.

Remember: Running isn’t about the destination. It’s about the journey.

Listen to Your Body
I must admit, I am one of those people that will push themselves beyond their limits and when my body says enough, I keep going. There’s a part of me that feels like a failure when I have to stop and walk during one of my runs. I’m positive that I am not the only person that feels this way.

Stop. Stop thinking about walking during your run as a failure, and start listening to your body.

Without fail, each time I have refused to listen to my body I have injured myself and it set my training back.

Shake it Up
Running in the same place can get boring after a while. Some days I find myself on the treadmill, others I find myself looking for a new route through my town. Keeping the run and scenery interesting will keep you motivated. Personally, I enjoy trail running through the woods. The miles seem to go by a lot faster than running on a track, treadmill or sidewalk.

Set SMART Goals and Track Them
“SMART” is a goal setting strategy that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. Setting SMART goals will motivate you to keep running and push yourself in a healthy and realistic way.

The second half of this tip is to track your goals and progress. While there is a plethora of running and progress tracking apps out there, my favorite one to use is the Under Armour Map My Run app. This app tracks your time, speed, mile splits, route and even the playlist tracks that played during your run.

Each time I run, I push myself to shave a little time off my run. Once the distance I run becomes easier, I increase the length of my run and start the process of racing against past timings again.

Pick Your Playlist
Just like having the right gear will keep you comfortable on your run, picking the right playlist will motivate you to keep moving forward. I know everyone’s musical tastes are different, but at least try to find something you like that is also upbeat and fast. For me, getting lost in a good heavy metal playlist helps me forget about the fact that I am jogging.

We made it. I am so motivated right now, I am going to wrap this article up and go for a run.

I would love to hear how you personally stay motivated to run. Email to share them.

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