Five Ways to Keep Yourself Running When You Just Want To Stop

Do you ever feel like you have no motivation or desire to go running, and even though it’s been too many days since you last went, you cannot convince yourself today’s the day? Or you come home for the evening, and you’d rather do just about anything, like putting your feet up, reading, blogging, even cleaning your closet or hemming your jeans, rather than running?

I admit this happens to me all the time. Even though I know I’ll love the running once I get out there, it’s hard to create the motivation to go. Lots of my friends say they are inspired by my running, and that encourages me a lot for sure, but the truth is, there are so many days I really, really, really don’t want to go.

I’m not a naturally disciplined runner; I hear about running discipline all the time, but my brain doesn’t seem to grasp the concept. Sure there’s an amazing runner’s high, and there’s the zone so many talk of, but …  sometimes I feel the joy and sometimes I don’t, and honestly, I cannot pinpoint much that is different between those two states of mind.

You’d think I would have learned, but I never do. That when I finally go running, it’s usually such a beautiful run in the golden hour. Or the morning hour. Or the afternoon hour. Or especially in the mist or rain. It doesn’t really matter when I run, pretty much every time, once I’m out there, by about the halfway mark, I’m doing it, I’m loving it, I’m in the zone. Mostly.

And every time I run, I celebrate inside. Every single time, after every single run. And you should too, every time YOU go.

I celebrate because I have been running a year, and that’s a big victory for me. I was one of the people who said, oh I could never, never run. Like ever. And I meant it. And even now, after running fairly steadily for one year, with the support of a running group and my own sole adventures out on the roads and trails, I still still get discouraged and so tired. I still have trouble running without breaks. I find it hard to run up hills and in the summer heat, and quite frankly, sometimes I just plain don’t even want to try.

But running is good for me in so many ways, mentally and physically, so I keep going. And I hope you will keep going, and that we can offer each other encouragement.

So here are my best 5 tips that have helped me get out there on days or nights when I really didn’t feel in the mood for running:
  1. Music ahead of time. On my way home from work, I start listening to my running playlist in my car. As soon as I hear my favourite running songs, that part of my brain kicks in, and my body starts asking to run.
  2. Put on your running gear. Sometimes even when I’m not feeling it, I put on my running gear and then keep setting about my activities at home, dishes, laundry, reading or whatever. Pretty much the minute those running clothes are on me, my body starts asking to run.
  3. Run with friends! At least twice a week I am motivated to show up, simply because I have friends who are expecting me. If it wasn’t for this running village, I can promise you, I would not have lasted a year.
  4. Mix it up. Running the same 5 miles every day at the same pace gets boring after a while. Choose different routes. Move from your neighbourhood to a river trail, or vice versa. Switch to hill running, or speed training once per week. Slow it down or speed it up.
  5. Take it one day at a time, and celebrate each and every run as a victory. When too many days have gone by, forgive yourself and start again. Every day is a fresh day, and running is always better than not running.

I’m thankful for friends who run with me, and friends who encourage me. If I didn’t have my little running village, there is no way I’d be here, calling myself a runner. And I am so grateful that I run. Because when I make the decision to run, and it’s that perfect night, where dusk is on the cusp of turning to dark, and the sun is setting, and the river is calm, and the air is the perfect temperature and so fresh on the trails, I thank my lucky stars that I run, and I tell myself I will run every day for the rest of my life. It’s a huge gift, a complicated one, and a way of life I haven’t quite grasped or conquered, but a tremendous gift just the same.

And by the way, if you tell yourself that you could never run, trust me you can. I was that person, and I’m telling you, if I can do it, anyone can do it.heather-emond-313088-unsplash

Photos by Arek Adeove and Heather Emond