10 Effective Ways to Motivate Yourself to Run When You Don’t Feel Like It

10 Effective Ways to Motivate Yourself to Run When You Don’t Feel Like It

It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner, an advanced runner or a pro. Anyone can get into a situation where for some reason you have no motivation to go for a run. Then it can easily slip and you start making excuses why it just can’t be done today. But how long can you make excuses based on the weather, work or study duties and other important things?

How about doing it a little bit differently and indulging in a good dose of motivation instead of excuses? Today we have prepared some tips for you, thanks to which you will look forward to running even if you are being lazy or reluctant to do physical activity.

How do you get motivated for running when you don’t want to? Try these 10 tips

If you have days when you can’t force yourself to run, following these motivation tips can help you get up and finally set off. You will see that the feeling after the exercise is worth it.

1. Put together a smashing music playlist

What can reflect feelings better than music? When you are in a bad mood, you can embrace it even more with slow music. On the other hand, wild rhythms are a must at any proper party. How about turning running into your own party? There are countless apps in which you can choose from the millions of songs that will work best for you. If you don’t want to get up from the couch, play your amped playlist and you’ll see that you won’t be able to just lie still.

You may be surprised that music can also affect your performance. Even the results of scientific studies confirm that fast tones can positively affect your sports results and also reduce your subjective perception of fatigue during the activity. Another study showed the effect of music on prolonging endurance performance. That means that not only sprinters and endurance runners, but also strength athletes or HIIT fans can benefit from these effects. [1–⁠3]

How to choose the right music for running?

Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all playlist guide that will kick you off. Some people can listen to soothing jazz while running, and still give high performances, while others can’t benefit from anything, not even some fast rock or metal. To find out which type of music suits you best, try using already prepared playlists in the apps. You can often find those in which the songs are divided according to BPM (beats per minute). The higher the BPM number, the faster the music in the playlist and quite possibly your running tempo.

If you don’t know how to choose the optimal BPM for your run, try a simple test:

  • After a few minutes of running, time one minute at the pace you usually run.
  • Count the number of steps for the whole minute.
  • Repeat this test after the next part of the run.
  • Average these two values ​​and you will get a number that corresponds to the optimal BPM for your run.

You can then use this as your starting value. In general, however, you should choose a lower BPM for longer runs, and a higher BPM for shorter and faster sprints that you don’t need to keep pace for longer.

If you want to learn more about how music affects your performance, you should read our article Music and Its Effect on Performance – How to Put Together a Smashing Playlist?

How to choose the right music for running?

2. Listen to your favourite podcast

Does this ever happen to you? You want to do some cleaning, so you put on some podcast, listen to it and after an hour find out that the story is over and you have a perfectly clean house? It can work similarly for running. Today, streaming platforms offer so many podcasts that everyone can find something they like.

You can listen to stories, interesting interviews or the latest news in various languages. As a result, you will be in the picture, and you will also improve your foreign language. An hour long slow run while listening to a podcast will pass by like nothing. So, on top of getting your regular exercise you will also learn something interesting.

3. Remember why you started

Most of the activities we do have some meaning in our life.

  • We go shopping to have food and everything else we need for living.
  • We clean to live in a clean and pleasant environment.
  • We work to achieve things, make a living and fulfill our dreams.
  • We sleep to gain energy for the following days.

And now try to remember why you started running? You may be engaged in this activity out of habit. But what was the original motivation that made you do it?

  • Did you want to lose a few pounds of fat?
  • Was it your dream to run a marathon?
  • Have you gotten annoyed by losing your breath when catching a bus?

Your motivation could have been anything in the beginning. But if you’ve been running out of habit for a while, maybe it’s time to go back to the original idea that started it all and see if you achieved the goal. If you are not yet where you would like to be, bet on the power of visualization. Stop and calmly imagine how satisfying it would be if you achieved the set goal. Then all that remains is to realize that your future is in your own hands. So it’s time to put on your sneakers and set off.

Or you might be in a different situation. Maybe you have already reached your dream goal a long time ago, you keep running, but now you just simply hit a rock and it doesn’t work anymore. However, we are ready for such situations as well. It’s time to set a new goal.

Our article can help you remember why you started running – 11 Reasons to Start Running. How Will It Change Your Body? 

Why did you start running?

4. Set your goal

A certain internal motivation associated with the goal is usually at the beginning of every meaningful activity. And running is definitely one of them. If you have already reached your goal, good for you. But then it is time to set a new, at least comparably ambitious goal. However, determining it may not be as easy as it might seem.

The SMART method can help you. It states that each goal should be:

  • S – Specific
  • M – Measurable
  • A – Achievable
  • R – Relevant
  • T – Time-Based

Let’s take a better example. When a beginner aims to run a marathon, it probably won’t happen by itself. Unfortunately, such a goal is, for an inexperienced runner, relatively unachievable, irrelevant, and doesn’t even have a time frame.

While running a marathon may be your dream, it will help if you divide it into smaller goals that you can achieve more easily. For starters, it might look something like this:

  • For one month I will run every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Each run will last at least 40 minutes. 

In order to actually go running 3 times a week, it is good to decide in advance which days and at what time you will go. Then make a note of your run in your diary and perceive it as an urgent appointment. With this approach, it will be more difficult for you not to go running. When you meet this monthly goal, you can cross it out to mark that you’ve done it. Enjoy the feeling of happiness that comes right away, and then set a new goal that will keep you motivated.

And if you’re just getting started, you’re sure to find some tips in our article How to Get Started with Running? A Simple Guide for Complete Beginners.

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5. Recall the good feeling you have after a run

In addition to the good feeling you get for pursuing your goal, you may be motivated by the idea of ​​pleasant emotions that sport can evoke. Well, just try to remember how you feel after running:

  • You are energized by the sun or, on the other hand, by the good feeling that you forced yourself to go even in the rain.
  • The released endorphins give you a feeling of happiness and satisfaction.
  • You have a better overview of the everyday life issues.
  • Even if you are pleasantly tired, you actually have a lot more energy for other activities.
  • You are in a great mood.

And these are just a few of the pleasant feelings that come after running. Well, answer it yourself, isn’t it worth going out for at least 20 minutes?

Improving self-discipline can help you to make that step and go running. The article Self-Discipline: The Key to Success in Sports and in Life can help you with that.

What can runners rewards themselves with?

6. Reward yourself

Did you reach some turning point in your running? Did you manage to run 5 km in less than 25 minutes or did you finally manage 10 km without stopping? So it’s time to reward yourself. If you have something in your head that you have been considering buying for a while, it’s finally time to make yourself happy.

When it comes to running, it’s best to be rewarded with something that motivates you to move on. It is also a good choice to buy something that will make your run more enjoyable or help you achieve better results.

What can runners rewards themselves with?

And if you already have all the necessary sports equipment, you can reward yourself by cooking or baking some goodies after the run. You will certainly find inspiration, for example, amongst our fitness recipes.

7. Watch other runners

Of course, we don’t mean that you should stalk other athletes outside and evaluate their technique or clothes. Instead, to stay motivated, follow them on social media, where they share their performances and various tips that can help you, for example, run faster and/or properly. And if, for example, it pops out on you on Instagram that your favourite runner has done his training for today, won’t you want to get yours done as well? You also may be motivated by the times of others, seeing how far the skills of recreational runners can go.

Tracking other runners in various exercise apps can also help with your motivation. Depending on your location, you can find out who is running in the area and get tips for new routes. You may also want to test whether you can run the same route faster. And if you are a collector of likes, you may be motivated to run by the idea that after finishing you will share your performance and you will be rewarded in the app, for example in the form of kudos.

8. Look back at your successes to date

This point is more for advanced runners who are tracking their progress. Again, various apps can help you with this, for example by tracking how much you have moved over the last few months or years. Try it, have a look at how many hundreds or thousands of miles you have already managed to run. And don’t forget to check how much your time has improved over that time period.

What might have been a superhuman task for you a few months ago, now you can manage without any issues. You can also remember the various contests you have completed. Maybe you even have commemorative medals at home. It’s not out of the question to sometimes look back on what you’ve already accomplished.

And you just want to throw all this away and lay on the couch? I believe not. We all certainly have a common goal – to move forward and improve. The article You Think that Running Is Boring? We Will Tell You How to Enjoy It and Constantly Improve.

9. Run with friends

What is a bigger motivation than your loved ones? Therefore, try to get people around you to run as well. The unwritten rule is that shared joy is double joy, and shared sorrow is half sorrow. And that can be applied quite well to running. In addition, if you arrange a run with a friend, it is improbable that you won’t go because you do not want to. If you agree on a specific hour, you cannot back down. So when you’re not looking forward to running itself, you can at least enjoy seeing a loved one.

If you don’t know anyone who would go running with you, try to look for a running club in your area. You will meet people who share the same hobbies and will probably motivate you to perform better.

Run with friends and motivate each other

10. Turn running into a game and compete with other people

Do you have a smartwatch that counts your steps and overall activity? So connect with friends who have them as well, and make exercise a common challenge. The results of a study also confirm that you are likely to be more active this way. There were statistically significant differences in activity between a group that measured the number of steps just for each of its members needs and a group that also competed with other people. As a result, the ones competing with others walked an average of about 2,000 steps a day more. These findings are confirmed by another study. Within it, there was again a more active group of people who turned running into a game and competed with their loved ones. [4–⁠5]

Science also confirms to us that we have a kind of natural competition encoded in us that we can use to our advantage. So don’t be afraid to challenge your friends and make running and other activities a fun competition where all of you are the winners. And if not, you can at least feel good about the activity and also the fact that you have done something good for your health.

However, if you know that clinging onto numbers could have a rather negative effect on you and it could easily become an obsession, you’d better put your smartwatch and apps away.

What should you remember?

There is a weaker moment in the life of every runner, when you just simply have no motivation to put on your sneakers and set off. It’s completely normal. However, if even a short break does not help, it is time to reach for tips that will help you with motivation and return to your running performance.

Sometimes motivational music can work, other times a challenge among your friends. It’s up to you what you try. And if none of the tips help, don’t be afraid to try other sports activities. You will diversify your training routine and you will quite possibly be a better runner. And don’t worry, if running is a matter of the heart for you, you will definitely miss it soon. You will then return to training with more commitment than ever before.


[1] Marcelo Bigliassi et al. –⁠ How does music aid 5 km of running? – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25029009/

[2] Avinash E Thakare et al. –⁠ Effect of music tempo on exercise performance and heart rate among young adults – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5435671/

[3] Peter C Terry et al. –⁠ Effects of music in exercise and sport: A meta-analytic review – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31804098/

[4] Allene L. Gremaud et al. –⁠ Gamifying Accelerometer Use Increases Physical Activity Levels of Sedentary Office Workers – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6064890/

[5] Mitesh S. Patel et al. –⁠ Effect of a Game-Based Intervention Designed to Enhance Social Incentives to Increase Physical Activity Among Families – https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/2655242

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