Note: This post contains affiliate links. Items purchased via these links may provide me the funds to afford energy gel. Thanks for subsidizing my GU habit.
Read my full affiliate policy.
Some runners (if you believe their Instagram and Facebook feeds) love to run and wake up every morning with endless enthusiasm for their 4:30 am daily runs.
I am not one of those runners.
While I do love running (or more specifically, I love having run), there are plenty of days when I’m really not loving the idea of heading out the door.
Maybe it’s too hot or too cold. Maybe it’s raining. Often my PJs are really comfy and my bed is cozy. Sometimes I’m just not mentally in the place to want to run.
But ‘I didn’t feel like it’ isn’t a valid excuse to not run. You need to suck it up and do it anyway.
Ways To Start A Run
The hardest part of almost every run is getting out the door. Here are a few tricks that have successfully gotten me out the door.
Have A Turn Around Spot
This has been my go to get out the door trick for a decade. I’ve written about it before (and likely will again since I’ve found it so effective).
Have a designated spot about a half mile from your starting place. On days when you just aren’t feeling it, start anyway. If you get to that spot and you still aren’t feeling it, give yourself permission to turn around and go home guilt free.
I’ve had a turn around spot for years and while I very often don’t feel like starting, I’ve only turned around maybe 5 times.
Once you start, inertia almost always takes over.
Knowing you have a possible out can take a bit of the sting out of starting.
Know A Run Isn’t All Or Nothing
Say you have a 10-mile run scheduled and you are either not feeling the idea of doing 10, or you have a scheduling conflict and you know you won’t have time.
Don’t totally skip the run because you can’t (or don’t want to) do the full mileage that you have on the schedule. Can’t do 10 miles? Do 8. Do 3. Or break up your run and do 5 miles in the morning and 5 miles in the evening.
Your schedule isn’t ironclad or written in stone. Some running will be better than staying home.
It is much easier to bail on a run when it’s vague and unscheduled. If you think of your run a something you’ll do at some point when you maybe have the time it’ll be much easier for you to bail.
But when the plan is more concrete (‘I will do the 4-mile park loop tomorrow from 7-8am’) and you’ve entered it into your calendar, it becomes harder to bail. You’ll be much more likely to treat it like any other commitment or appointment.
Create a list of rewards you can use to bribe yourself to get out the door.
So many runs = a new piece of gear. So many miles = a massage or a spa day.
Try to make the majority of your rewards non-food rewards since it can sabotage your fitness goals. Many coaches say to never use food as a reward, but since I find myself doing it (effectively), I don’t feel right telling others to never do it.
But it should be the exception, not the rule.
For me, I know pop is terrible and I should never drink another can of Coke. But I really enjoy it, so I’ve made the occasional can Coke part of my rewards system. After a particularly challenging run, I may throw a cupcake into the reward mix.
‘Within reason’ and ‘in moderation’ are important watchwords here.
Think Of Your Future Self
This one can get a little self-helpy, but it’s worth considering.
Who you want to be in the future? ‘Future’ means whatever you want it to mean – tonight, next month, ten years.
What does your future self look like? What is he or she doing?
What steps should you take now to get to be that future self?
Will not doing your run today help you get there?
Would your future self be disappointed in you for bailing?
Set up a system that makes you accountable for your run. It’s much harder to skip out on a run when you’ll have to admit to someone that you skipped.
Accountability can take many forms. Try a few methods and see what works for you.
Running partners. The most direct form of accountability is having running partners. If you run with a few friends or a group, they will know when you bailed. Give them permission to call or text you if you bail for extra guilt-trip motivation.
Online apps. Apps like Strava and Garmin Connect record your runs and makes then visible to approved groups and friends.
Websites, forums & Facebook. Document your runs on a blog or a running related Facebook group. I’ve been doing this with my weekly Oakland training recaps. I know I’ve done some strength workouts when I didn’t feel like it just because I didn’t want to have to record a skip day for the world to see.
Run journal. If you are internally motivated, just recording your runs in an analog journal can be useful. It can be hard to write down ‘I didn’t run because I didn’t feel like it’ even if only you will see it.
Virtual Races. Virtual races are themed runs of almost any distance that are done on your own time and are usually recorded on the honor system. Registering for a race with a theme you love can encourage you to get out the door and put in the miles to earn the medal. I’m outing myself as a dork, but I love the virtual races put on by the Hogwarts Running Club and the Whovian Running Club.
Earning Harry Potter & Dr. Who medals? That will get me out the door. But there are clubs and virtual races for whatever you are into.
Find Your Trigger
There is something you love enough to work toward or hate enough to work to avoid, I know it.
But these incentives are very personal to you. Only you know what they are.
Consider the times when you have stuck with your plans, are there any common threads? Figure out what they are and work them into your running life.
For me, I hate the idea of wasting money. So when I know I may struggle to train (read: winter, when the mornings are cold and dark) I’ll register for an event I have to travel for. After spending money on a race entry, hotel, and airfare, I’m much more likely to do what I have to to get to the start line.
But for others, that won’t encourage them at all and they’ll just end up wasting money.