Motivation for Runners: FAQ

What's the difference between motivation and inspiration?
Wow, good question. After dozens of seconds of research, I'm gonna go with... "little, if any." If anyone cares to write in and argue that, I could be persuaded otherwise. Or is it "convinced otherwise"? So many questions!

How can I tell when a lack of motivation is a sign of something more serious?
If it lasts a lot longer than usual, or is accompanied by other symptoms—fatigue, depression, mental fogginess, etc.—I'd say it's time to see a doctor.

Where does "fitspo" fit in all of this?
I wasn't sure what fitspo even was until I sat down to write this. Now that I've looked into it, I've decided that we shall never speak of it again.

How can I get motivated to run when I just don't feel like it?

Here are a few ways to stay motivated over the long haul. 

  • Lower the bar. If you're on the bubble about any given run, make yourself a deal: You'll just run a mile. If you still feel crummy after a mile, you'll end there and be fine with it. (Hint: Nine times out of 10, you'l wind up feeling fine and doing your whole run.)
  • Vary your routine. Run the same pace, for the same distance, on the same route, day after day and you will burn yourself out, guaranteed. Mix it up.
  • Run with a buddy. This is the single most effective motivator I've found. It's much harder to skip a run when you've promised to meet a friend for it. 
  • Sign up for a race... Because then you'll have to train for it. At least in theory.
  • ...or volunteer at one. Uh, could the energy at a race be any more contagious? (Answer: No. It could not.)
  • Watch someone else run. Especially if that someone is an awesome runner running in an awesome race. Such as Billy Mills in the 1964 Olympic 10,000m. 
  • Haul out a motivational poster. Such as the ones right here on!
  • Promise yourself a reward. If you follow your training schedule all month (or hit your mileage goals, or whatever), you get to treat yourself to a massage or a new pair of shoes. Dangle a carrot and chase it.
  • Take a break. We all need some downtime. Taking a day or three off from running now and again won't hurt, and very likely will help.