How Do I Motivate Myself When I’m a Beginner That Is Starting to Run?

If you’re reading this article, it’s likely that you’re either considering taking up running, or you’ve just started to run.

Running is one of the best activities you can do for your health. It’s a great cardiovascular exercise that burns calories and can help you lose weight. Running outdoors in the fresh air can also help your mental health and reduce stress levels.

However, a lot of runners struggle with motivation. It’s often the case that once they get out the door, they are fine, but they sometimes struggle with that motivation to get out running – especially after a long day.

In this article, we’ve put together some of our top tips to help you stay focused and maintain the motivation to run.

How Do I Motivate Myself When I’m a Beginner That Is Starting to Run

Figure out your ‘why’ and write it down

It’s important to figure out your ‘why’ behind wanting to run.

  • Do you want to keep fit, stay healthy?
  • Do you want to lose a certain amount of weight?
  • Do you want to run a 10k for charity?

Whatever’s motivating you, write it down and stick it on your bedroom wall or fridge door so that it’s the first thing you see in the morning.

Your ‘why’ should help encourage, energise and motivate you on the days when you’re not feeling like running.

Set realistic goals and milestones

After defining your ‘why’, look to establish some realistic goals and benchmarks over the next six months. This goal could be:

  • Running a certain distance
  • Running a race
  • Running a distance in a particular time

It’s important to be ambitious and have goals and milestones large enough that they are a powerful motivator.

However, it’s equally important to make sure you’re not going too big. Setting unrealistic goals that are out of reach can be counterproductive and result in you losing motivation if not achieved. So be honest and realistic – don’t set yourself up to fail!

Also, make sure you do what is right for you to make your goals public. Some fitness gurus are big advocates for making your goals public, as you then have that public accountability. Others feel that this can also be counterproductive and add unnecessary pressure to your training.

So do what is right for you – and whether you choose to publicly share your goals, share them with family members, or keep them to yourself – remember that your goals are yours and yours alone.

Create a training schedule

Creating a training schedule and running routine is one of the most important things you can do to make sure you develop a healthy running habit and remain motivated to stick to your training plan.

First of all, plan which days you want to train, where you’ll train and how far you’re going to run.

It’s recommended that you factor in gradual increases in distance and intensity as you work towards your agreed running goals.

A lot of new runners have found the Couch to 5k programme useful when starting out running, which helps you to a fitness level where you can run a 5k within 9 weeks.

At UK Fitness Events, we’ve also put together a 5K training plan, which in addition to plans for beginner, intermediate and advanced runners, includes useful tips on what to wear, what to eat, and tips for improving your 5k time.

Try to run consistently, but don’t get discouraged if you miss one training session!

You’re going to have days when you wake up on a training day, and you just don’t want to run.

Or sometimes, life gets in the way of your carefully crafted training plan.

Many people have a tendency to see things as ‘all or nothing’ when they start a new training plan. It’s possible to over-react if you miss a planned training day, and let it impact your motivation to continue. James Clear addresses this concept in an article called “Avoid The Second Mistake

In a broad summary of his article, he suggests that missing any one day of a training plan (or any habit) has zero impact on your long-term ability to stick to your plan – as long as you don’t let it derail you and find a way to quickly get back on track after a ‘slip up’ or missed session.

So do your best to run consistently as per your plan. But don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day. Just get back to it with vigour on your next planned session.

Track your runs

Tracking your runs via an app or smartwatch can also be a great way to motivate yourself to run.

Having all your runs tracked and logged can give you a fantastic objective measure of your progress over time, in terms of both distance and speed. It can be all too easy to forget how far you’ve come once you start to love running and start running 5k for fun!

Tracking your runs via an app also gives you an easy way to share your runs with friends, family and social channels if you decide to make your fitness journey public.

Journal your runs

Fitness trackers are great for objective measures of progress, such as your distance, your speed, and your route. But besides the objective tracking of your runs, it can also be useful to have a subjective measure.

A running journal can be useful to jot down information such as:

  • How did this run make you feel?
  • What did you enjoy?
  • What didn’t you enjoy so much?
  • How can you improve on it next time?

Journaling your runs can really help you find out what works for you as a runner, and combined with your objective tracking, can be really powerful as something to look back on and understand how far you’ve come.

Invest in running clothes you love

It’s important that you feel confident and comfortable when running if you’re going to remain motivated to run in the long term. The clothes you wear to run are an important part of that.

So, if you’re committed to starting running, we’d recommend investing in some good quality running gear that suits your style and makes you feel comfortable. It can often be more cost-effective to invest in quality running clothing rather than going for the cheapest.

One area where you definitely shouldn’t try to save money is with running shoes. Getting the right pair of running shoes is important for trying to avoid injury.

There are different running shoes based on foot arch types (high arch, low arch, flat) and also whether your feet roll inwards or outwards when you run.

Your weight and planned running habits will also have a bearing on which running shoes are best for you – heavier runners may require more durable and supportive shoes.

If you’re unsure about which running shoes to choose, we’d recommend going to a local specialist running shop who will give you some tailored advice.

Consider joining a running club

If you have a social aspect to your running, it can be great for making new friends and help you stay motivated to run.

It also means that if you have a day where you’re struggling to motivate yourself to run, there will always be training partners for you to run with. Sometimes all you need is a running buddy to help you get in the mindset to train.

If possible, join a running club or run group that is within your local area as this will mean less travelling time and you’re more likely to maintain attendance consistently.

If you decide to join a running club or running group, it’s important not to compare yourself with others. Everyone has different goals, abilities, and reasons for running.

Add some variety to your routes

Changing your running route every once in a while is great for keeping up your running motivation. Some runners even choose to take a short drive to help them run in a new environment.

Changing up where you run can help to keep things exciting and different, which is important as it doesn’t allow you to get bored with the same old usual route.

It’s important that you make sure any alternative route is safe (and well-lit if running at night) and that a close friend or family member knows where you’re running if it’s a long run.

How Do I Motivate Myself When I’m a Beginner That Is Starting to Run

Mix up your running playlists

Having a good playlist can be absolutely crucial to keeping you motivated and entertained when running.

There are dozens of running playlists on Spotify and Apple Music, and it’s recommended that you listen to tunes that are between 120 and 125 bpm when jogging, and 140-145 bpm for a faster run.

If you’re running on the road, just remember that you need to be able to hear traffic. Some headphones work via bone conduction, which allows you to still hear ambient sounds like traffic while you’re running and are safer.

Reward yourself for successes

When you first start running, it can be really helpful to set small goals for yourself.

For example, once you’ve run five times consecutively, you’ll treat yourself to a piece of cake / visit to a cafe / few glasses of wine (whatever motivates you!)

You might also want to set larger rewards for bigger goals – maybe a night out or a city break when you pass your first 5k finish line!

Getting back on track when your motivation fades

As you’re human, it’s likely that you’re going to have periods when you miss training sessions and struggle to follow the training plans you’ve set.

The most important thing to remember is that you’re not alone (this even happens with experienced runners!) and revisit the James Clear advice about the second mistake – missing one training session will not impact your long-term progress, as long as you don’t make missing sessions a habit!

If you do lose your motivation at any point, hopefully some of these tips below will help you regain your enthusiasm:

Revisit your ‘why’

For getting back on track, re-visiting your motivation is great for reigniting that drive. Look back on what your initial reasons were for starting running and remind yourself why you started!

Remind yourself of your progress on your run tracker and running journal

This is where keeping track of your progress via your tracking app and journal will help you stay motivated! If you look back and realise how far you’ve come since starting out, it can often be just what you need to give you that extra push of motivation.

Watch some inspirational running movies or read a motivational book

If you’re still struggling to motivate yourself, consider watching an inspirational sports movie, or reading a book by a famous sports person. You might also want to consider following a few other athletes on social media or subscribe to their blogs – it might give you some inspiration for your own future runs, or help you realise that you’re not alone in losing motivation.

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