How to motivate yourself to run, when you don’t feel like running – Jurg Widmer

How to motivate yourself to run, when you don’t feel like running – Jurg Widmer


Running is a wonderful thing. It gets you fit. It gets you out into the fresh air. It reconnects you with your body and with the outside world. Which are all great motivators to get us out of the door – but sometimes it’s not enough, especially when the weather is so cold. So, here are our thoughts on how to motivate yourself to run, even when you really don’t feel like it.

See it as a bit of you time 

One of the best things about running is that it isn’t just a physical exercise – it makes you feel better mentally too. It does this in at least a couple of ways. Firstly, on a practical level, it releases a whole load of those good brain chemicals like endorphins into your body, and simply makes you feel happier.

And secondly it just gives you different focus. In a very similar way to meditation, running will take you out of the daily churn of ongoing worries and concerns that often roll in an endless stream through your brain, and just give you a bit of space. By exercising, we give our minds a chance to settle into the rhythm of the physical activity we’re doing, rather than being dragged around by our thoughts. This mental space is absolutely crucial – just like those rest days we build into a marathon training plan to help your body, a mental break from all your worries gives your mind the chance to rest, reset and strengthen a little too.

Don’t think about the end goal- just enjoy the experience 

Too often, the thing that is holding us back from just throwing our running kit on and going for it is that we attach far too much baggage to the activity. What do we mean by this? Well, it’s all those things that running – or any exercise for that matter – can come to represent for us.

We’re doing it to get fit. We’re doing it to lose weight. We’re doing it because we only have a week to go before a charity run, that everyone is expecting us to smash. We’re doing it because we know we will feel guilty and bad about ourselves if we don’t go for a run.

Well, our advice is simple. Stop: and try and forget about all this stuff we build up and attach to fitness. In reality, none of these things are actually that important –particularly if they create so much pressure that we don’t end up doing the most important thing, the activity, itself. So go out, just run, and focus on enjoying the experience. Forget everything else, and try to get the maximum out of the sensation of actually just running. You will find that the rest – the fitness, the weight loss, the stellar PBs – will come in time.

Try and remember the buzz. 

How many times have you been out running, and felt that ‘runner’s high’? It’s that feeling of almost running on air – you have been out long enough to warm up, your muscles feel relaxed and stretchy, your lungs aren’t burning and your breath is coming easily. It might not happen every time – and it often only comes once we’ve put a good few miles in. But it feels great, and is what running is all about.

Of course, you get a slightly different – but equally pleasurable – sensation when it all stops too. When you get home, stop your watch, take a few big breaths and gather yourself after the run, you get another buzz from feeling that you’ve pushed yourself and really achieved something physically. You might not even have got a personal best, or run particular far or fast, but it feels good to have been out and exercising. These are the times when running feels great.

So – the simple message here is, remember these times and these sensations, the next time you are looking out of the window at the cold weather and wondering whether to go for it and pull your running shoes on. It might be tough to start with, but you will feel great, we promise.