A blog by runners. For runners.

Running motivation: what gets you moving?


Someone busier than you is running right now.

I found this quote in a magazine over the weekend and it got me thinking about motivation. We all have reasons for lacing up our shoes and getting out there. For some, the reasons are purely physical, for others mental, even spiritual; regardless of what they are, we’ve all got them.

Today I thought I’d share some of my favorite motivators, in hopes they may help you when your own motivation is waning. In turn, I’d love to hear from you about what motivates you to get out there as well. Maybe we can learn a little from each other!

  1. Visualization. I know you aren’t supposed to live in the future but when I’m sitting on the couch contemplating a run I often visualize two scenarios. The first, how it will feel to finish my run, do my cool down stretches, and take a nice long shower. The second, what I will do if I don’t get out there, more time on the couch, in front of the computer, TV … before I can finish that thought I’ve usually already made up my mind and found my shoes.
  2. Doing it for someone else. My dad died three years ago. He was a sports enthusiast and a lover of the outdoors. Whenever I think I’m too tired or too busy to get out there I think of him. The simple fact that I can run and he can’t gives me the motivation I need. He taught me to love being active, the feel of cold air on my face, whether on a track or a ski slope. His memory reminds me that life is short and that I shouldn’t take my healthy, able body for granted.
  3. FOMO. My sister and I started using this phrase a few years ago, probably around the time Facebook became really popular, but I use it in relation to my running all the time. FOMO stands for fear of missing out and it’s a powerful tool. To begin I usually go to my dining room window, now I happen to live right along the Charles River with a clear view of the running Esplanade but this trick works in any number of places. Stand near a gym, a track, a trail and just watch the runners work out. Give it a minute, maybe two and I guarantee very shortly you’ll be jones-ing for a run. It might actually be wise to change into your running clothes beforehand so you can start running as soon as the FOMO hits you!
  4. Mind tricks. These work especially well on the treadmill. I don’t tell myself I have to run 3, 4, 5 miles from the get-go (we all know this is torture on a treadmill). Instead I set small goals, run for 5 minutes, run for a half mile then I can stop if I want to. Once I’ve hit that milestone, I almost always want to run for another 5 minutes or lap around the track. I move the measuring stick an inch, not a mile at a time. This helps make my runs feel more doable. In the end, I almost always run the full distance or time I was aiming for anyway.
  5. My dog. My dog, Eli, loves to run. To be honest, I probably wouldn’t have run nearly as much as I did this winter if it weren’t for him. There is something about the look he gives me when we’ve been inside for too long that tears me apart. All I have to do is imagine the look of pure joy — mouth open, tongue wagging as we run down the path –and it absolutely melts my heart and motivates my laziness.

As you can see, motivation can come in many forms. So, now it’s your turn. What motivates you? #motivateWJR

Written by Lisa Horvath.