I often see people on twitter, particular in the UKRunChat community, talking about losing their running mojo. I know the feeling; running is my main sport and I do it pretty much all year whether or not I’m training for an event. Often I love it, but even when I don’t it’s part of my life and my routine. That doesn’t always mean it’s easy to motivate myself to get changed and go out in the cold, though. Particularly when the next race is a long way off, the weather is cold, and the flat is warm, I go through weeks where running just doesn’t seem like fun. Like they say, I feel I’ve lost my running mojo.
It doesn’t have to be like this though – and here are some tips on getting yourself excited about running again when it’s lost its appeal.
Different types of running
When you’re not in training for anything specific it’s easy for all your runs to become kind of the same – a sort of mid-distance-ish slowish plod that, sure, burns some calories but doesn’t do much for your overall running performance. If I just go for a run without thinking about it I’ll almost certainly just end up doing between 6-8 miles at between 8:30 and 8:40 min/miles. That’s fiiine, but it’s not really long enough to be a long run or fast enough to be a tempo run or slow enough to be a recovery run or varied enough to be intervals so, while it’s certainly a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours, it’s not great training. Plus, running with no purpose is only going to contribute to a loss of mojo.
Instead, do something different, to make things interesting:
- Try working on a personal goal like a 1 mile or 1.5 mile PB. Do a warm up and a cool down and you’ll still end up doing 4 miles or so, but the goal will make it more interesting, and it’ll force you to do some work at a higher pace. Plus, once you get competitive with yourself you’ll want to start doing intervals and track work to keep improving.
- Do track work. Most of us long distance runners love pounding the streets or the trails but tracks can be a great way to vary your running. They are far more appealing on dark winter nights, they may well have other runners around to chat to and give you a sense of community, and they let you focus on pace over shorter measured distances without the distractions of traffic lights and uneven surfaces.
- Plan a long run. A lot of runners only do a couple of long runs, in the build up to a marathon. To be fair, a three-hour run plus recovery time is a fair chunk out of your day and only doable at the weekend for a lot of people. They are fun and exciting though; they stretch you and challenge you and make you a better runner. If you’re losing your enthusiasm for the same old run then why not take the time to plan a Saturday morning dedicated to a proper long run. Not because you’re training for anything, but for the sheer joy of it.
- Get on a treadmill. I hate treadmills, I really do. Running ten miles on the road is a joy, running ten miles on a treadmill is sheer boredom. Probably. I’ve never done it; it’s too boring. But still, if the prospect of going out on a freezing November morning isn’t overly appealing then that’s fine, we’re all human; find a treadmill, stick your headphones in, put the gradient up a bit to keep things punchy, and go for it. You’re no less of a runner for hitting a treadmill once in a while, and it might even be better for your knees.
Vary the location
If you’re anything like me, you have a couple of well-trodden routes; the commute to and from work, and perhaps a convenient six-mile loop from your home. You know them well, they’re the right distance, and you do them without really thinking about it. When that gets boring, though, shake it up. Commute via an unusual route – I bet you’ve chosen the quickest route home but if adding an extra couple of miles on takes you somewhere new and stretches your endurance a bit then surely that’s a win-win? And for that Sunday morning jog, instead of going the same old loop try something new. I’m not really a fan of driving to run as it seems to defeat the object, but if driving to a park or a trail and then running a loop from and back to the car will make it more interesting then where’s the harm?
One of the biggest reasons I lose my running mojo is that it all starts to seem a bit purposeless. Each individual run doesn’t improve my performance any, and for a while it can feel like something I just do because I’ll feel guilty if I don’t. Well then, then with a purpose, and the best way to run with a purpose is to run-commute. Then it doesn’t matter if you’re plodding along at a pace that’s having minimal training benefit, because at least you’re going somewhere.
Running to or from work a couple of times a week will do away with all the stress of public transport and let you do your exercise in what would otherwise be ‘dead’ time. When I started, I found it renewed my love for running because I was running for a different reason, and could stop worrying about pace and distance and improvements because my goal was simply getting home or to work. In the end I did get a lot quicker at my commute of course, simply by doing it so much, but that was a side-bonus.
Listen to audio-books
Another potential cure for that misplaced but unshakeable sense of futility in going for another post-work plod is to combine it with some other useful activity. In my case I took to listening to audiobooks, something I would almost never do otherwise, and thoroughly enjoyed it – even looking forward to the run for being able to listen to more of whatever book I was working through. Personally I found fairly active and vaguely inspiring books particularly appropriate since they also made me want to get fitter; so I listened to books by ultra-runners and ex navy seals, but go for whatever interests you and makes you enjoy the run.
Buy a gadget
My most sure fire way of getting out running is to buy some kind of running gadget or kit that I’m excited about using. For a while at least that’s absolutely guaranteed to make me actively look forward to getting out there!
Maybe this isn’t the best approach; it can certainly get expensive. But it does work!
Make yourself accountable
Finding some way to force yourself to run through social accountability works wonders. When I was working towards MDS and sharing my monthly mileage on this blog I found it a real motivator to go out and get miles under my belt even when I didn’t feel like it, or think that the miles would be particularly high-quality training. Otherwise, just sharing what you are doing on twitter or instagram, particularly by joining a community like UKRunChat, creates a supportive and friendly way to make yourself a bit more accountable, and make you want to have done some running that you can talk about!