As runners we go through peaks and valleys. We feel on top of the world one minute (or during one training cycle) and then struggle for motivation the next. We lose our running motivation and don’t really understand why a lot of the time.
The truth is there can be a number of reasons why this may happen, but chances are at some point during your years of running you are going to come across a period of lost running motivation. A period where running becomes a chore, feels harder, and the running motivation you once had seems to have fizzled away.
I’ve experienced several of these periods throughout the past 6-7 years, and have quickly discovered that your loss of running motivation usually boils down to five main reasons.
The good news is that NO it’s not because you are lazy or that you just aren’t good at running.
So, what is it then?
I’ve see many runners, including myself, feel like they are indestructible and that burnout will never happen to them. It doesn’t matter if you run 20 miles a week or 100 miles – you are not indestructible and that’s ok!
Burnout is a real thing. Did you know that even elite athletes often take anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks off after big races. It’s not a sign of weakness to take time off and let your body truly recover after big races. It is part of the running process that too many times people skip. It’s important!
Rest your body. Let it recover fully.
Burnout is not fun, I can tell you this from personal experience, and it can set you back further than those few weeks of rest. If you feel yourself losing focus ask yourself – when was the last time I really took time for my body to recover?
Too Much Repetition
As runners we often find a routine and stick to it. Training plans are great but even after our peak race is over, sometimes we keep in the habit of sticking to the same schedule as those training plans. As many of you know, I used Hansons Marathon Method to help me achieve my first BQ; however, when I tried to complete another cycle with it I couldn’t get my focus back.
The problem with using the same training plan over and over is that sometimes we need something different. That’s why a lot of people turn to coaches, but even with coaches sometimes they have one strategy and it doesn’t add enough variety.
Take a look at your current training and ask yourself how long you’ve been running the same types of workouts and runs (even if you are changing up the pace). If it’s been a while – chances are you may be suffering from too much repetition.
Not Enough Variety
Not enough repetition means that you are lacking variety in your routine. This doesn’t just mean you need a new training plan. Sometimes it means you are focus only on running.
Try adding in cross training or strength work 1-2 times per week. Go for a walk one day instead of a recovery run. As small of a change as it may be, adding in something different can keep your mind feeling fresh and excited to run.
Don’t forget – even with running variety is important. Don’t run the same course every day. Don’t run the same workouts each week. These are simple mistakes so many runners make time and time again. Add variety in your routine!
Needing a New Goal
I’ve always been a big fan of goals mostly because they give you a focus point. You know what you’re working towards each time you lace up your shoes. The common mistake runners make is that they may set a goal but it’s very similar to their last. Did you run a PR for the marathon? Great! What’s your next goal? Run another PR in the marathon! Many runners are in this never ending cycle.
Running isn’t always about PRs. Sometimes your body needs a brand new type of goal to work towards. For example, why not try to complete your first trail race or ultra? How about trying to improve your 5k/10k time instead of the marathon?
Adding in different “seasons” in your goals can be important in keeping things in focus and to help your mind and body. Working different muscle systems and setting different types of goals is so important to the mental health and stability of runners. You can always go back and focus on getting faster at your go-to distance after a cycle of something else.
Forcing Yourself to Do Something You Don’t Love
Time and time again I see so many individuals trying to force themselves into loving to run. There was a period where I took 4 months off of running and focus only on weight training and small cardio. The truth was – I thought I didn’t love running anymore.
In the end, that didn’t end up being the case but for many it could be! Do you browse Instagram or other social media outlets each day and see so many amazing runners? Do you keep telling yourself if they can love it so can I?
Sometimes the problem that people are having finding their running motivation is that they are trying to force it. If running isn’t for you – that’s okay! There are so many other areas you could focus on and it’s more important to find something you truly love to do because it won’t always be easy.
Ask yourself the sometimes hard question – Do I really LOVE running? This doesn’t mean you love it every day, but can you imagine yourself not running and still being happy with that? Don’t feel bad if you can! It’s better to find something you love than force yourself to do something you don’t.
We lose focus, we get off track, and sometimes we struggle to find our way back. That’s ok! As runners, sometimes our loss of focus boils down to one of these five topics I talked about above. Really step back and evaluate yourself and your training and you may be surprised to find the real reason is right in front of you.
The good news is – you can get your running motivation back!
Tell me about a time you’ve lost your running motivation!
Have you ever had to step back and re-evaluate your running?
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