Every runner is always in search of the elusive “runner’s high”, that point in your run where you hit your stride and the endorphin rush makes you feel like you can keep running forever. When you first start running, that may feel so far off and you may find yourself wanting to stop before you’ve even made it out of your neighborhood.
If you find yourself constantly fighting the mental battle to keep going on your runs, you’re not alone. You have to dig deep and find ways to motivate yourself to finish even when it gets tough. In this article, we are going to explore 10 tips to teach you how to keep running when you feel like stopping.
1. Find a running buddy
One of the best ways to keep yourself motivated on a run is to run with someone else. Whether it’s your significant other or a good friend, find someone to join you on your runs whenever you can. Look for someone who is at a similar fitness level and shares your goals so that you both get something out of your runs.
You’d be amazed at the energy shift of your runs when you run with someone. You can make conversation (when your pace allows) to pass the time, which is a great opportunity to catch up and take your mind off the fact that you’re running. Before you know it, you’ll have clocked record miles without even noticing.
2. Harness the power of mantras
Never underestimate the power of positive words and thoughts, even on a run. Work on developing some motivating mantras that you can use mid-run to keep you pushing towards the finish line. Mantras are a great tool to have in your back pocket to help you refocus when you want to quit.
A mantra to help you keep running doesn’t have to be anything elaborate, it can be as simple as “Just keep going” or “A little bit further”. All it needs to be is something that reminds you why you started and why it’s important to keep going.
3. Tricking your mind
Although it’s not good to play tricks on other people, there’s no reason you can’t play tricks on yourself to keep yourself motivated to keep running. This is a simple tactic that will help you focus on just giving a little bit more at a time until you ultimately end up completing your run.
It’s very simple to do. When you feel like your legs might give out or you can’t catch your breath, just tell yourself you have to run for 1 more minute. When that minute is up, tell yourself just another 2 minutes. If you play that game, you’ll trick yourself into forgetting your reasons to stop and actually finishing your run.
4. Find the perfect entertainment
Running alone in silence isn’t very much fun. Sometimes being alone with your thoughts or just the sounds of nature isn’t enough to keep you entertained and motivated on your runs. If that’s you, pop in some earbuds and crank up some music or a podcast or audiobook.
If you choose music, make an amazing playlist of all your favorite high-energy songs or find a premade playlist on Apple Music or Spotify that highlights your music choices. Grooving along to the beat and listening to your favorite type of music will help the time pass quicker.
If you prefer to use your run to learn or read, queue up your favorite podcast or power through a few chapters in your favorite audiobook. Choose interesting topics that you are excited to learn or read more about so that you will look forward to your running time so you can pick up where you left off.
5. Strengthen your mind
Your mind is the most powerful muscle in your body. It will give up well before your body does 100% of the time. As much as running pushes your body, it also pushes your mind well past the mental limit as well.
You have the power to decide how long you run and when you run. Decide for yourself that you are committing to running a specific number of days per week for a specific amount of time, and just do it. Don’t give yourself a choice not to show up.
Every day that you show up even when you don’t want to will incrementally strengthen your mind and your body. Each day you show up for yourself you will become better and stronger.
6. Set a time limit
If you’re feeling bogged down by the pressure to run a certain amount of miles, flip your perspective and focus on running for a certain duration of time instead. Sometimes we feel like a run isn’t worthwhile unless it’s a certain distance, but any run that you put effort into counts.
This is a great reminder to stop focusing on perfection. You don’t need to run 3 miles or 5 miles, or even 10 miles to be a “good runner”. Start small with 20 minutes of running. Once you’ve nailed that and it is starting to feel easier, bump that time up by 5 or 10 minutes.
By focusing on increments of time instead of distance, you’ll be running for longer times and further distances before you know it.
7. Don’t be afraid to walk sometimes
You may feel like slowing down to walk during a run is cheating or quitting, but rest assured that it’s anything but. Even the best runners sometimes have to slow things down to catch their breath, work out a cramp, or adjust their pace.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with slowing down to a walk for a few minutes before you speed back up. In fact, this is a great way for new runners to start getting comfortable with running. Gradually work up to longer and longer spurts of running with only short stretches of walking in between when you need it.
8. Be mindful of overtraining
The worst thing you can do when you are first starting out with running is to overwork yourself physically to the point that you hurt yourself or burn out mentally. Although it can be tempting to go “all in” and commit to long runs every day of the week, ultimately you will not see success this way.
It’s important to come up with a balanced training schedule that feels doable for your life and doesn’t push your limits physically before you are ready. Start out by running 2-3 times per week for even as little as 15-20 minutes. Your runs don’t have to belong to be impactful.
9. Schedule it in
Sometimes you stack the odds against completing your run before you even start if you don’t set yourself up for success. As they say, if you fail to plan you are planning to fail.
If you find yourself making every excuse in the book not to lace up your sneakers, it’s time to get serious about scheduling in your runs to make them happen. Block off the time in your Google calendar or write it in your planner but whatever you do, make it non-negotiable.
Consider your run like an appointment with yourself that you can’t miss. Think of it as a scary business meeting with a client who intimidates you or challenges you. You wouldn’t want to let them down by missing the meeting, so don’t let yourself down either.
10. Watch the weather
When you’re running outside, it’s important to keep an eye on the weather before you head out for your run. Things like excess heat or cold, humidity, strong sun, or even the potential for foul weather could totally derail your run and make it hard, if not impossible, to finish.
Extreme temperatures or other difficult weather situations can make it harder to breathe properly and maintain appropriate body temperature while you run. To set yourself up for success, make sure that the weather is going to be as mild as possible before you head out for a run.
To some degree, weather fluctuations are unavoidable but do your best. This might mean running early in the day or later in the evening to make sure your environment isn’t working against you. When you don’t have bad weather as an excuse not to run or to stop running early, you can push yourself further.
Sometimes it might feel like the easiest thing to do is give up when your runs get hard, but there are things you can do to stay committed and finish your run even when you don’t want to.
Some of these tactics are things you can do during your run to shift your mindset or push yourself when you feel like quitting at the moment. There are also ways that you can set yourself up to be successful by preparing beforehand. Both types of tactics will be impactful towards helping you keep running when you feel like quitting.
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