As one ignorant non-runner said, running is boring, exhausting, and sometimes painful. Yet today, running is one of the most popular individual sports in the world, counting millions and millions of followers. This number does not even include yet those who are engaged into serious competitive running. How do they keep themselves motivated and stay at that?
Loss of motivation
Because it is a solitary performance at most, running sometimes CAN be boring, exhausting and painful. Some runners (newcomers and veterans alike) declare that it can be difficult sometimes to stay motivated on a regular basis. Loss of motivation is triggered by many things, including boredom, muscle pains, and most of all, lack of time. Some other times in your running years you were probably attacked by lack of motivation. It starts out slow (skipping a run or two) and without your knowing it, gradually moves to a point where you notice you are not running regularly anymore.
One of the better ways to fight loss of motivation is to set realistic goals. One of the more common goals to stay motivated is simply to complete a race.
Choosing your race, training for it, and finally competing in it is another good source of motivation. Your selection should depend on your personal goals. If motivation is your only goal, perhaps choosing to compete in those periodic short races is the best option. Setting realistic goals is the easiest way for a runner’s motivation to stay up and intense enough.
Of course, you can always choose your favorite distance (5K or 10K or a marathon). The choice itself, the thought, and the actual preparations and the competition proper are enough factors to keep you busy (training) and motivated (prestige and awards) enough. Other runners are motivated by setting bigger goals to their training (if competing) or in just plain running. They set up faster times, or longer distances as their next goals. Naturally, they will not get it right the first time. The attempts of bettering them are very good motivators.
Runners can also stay motivated by adding some variety into their program. They can vary the courses (and terrain) they are running (jogging across the woods or the tracks), distance, speed and intensity (doing sprints in straight tracks and jogging in curves) among other things. Running with a friend (in twos or threes) can sometimes perk up an otherwise monotonous activity. Thinking of someone going with you on a run can sometimes be a very good motivation to do it. Working alone makes staying in bed in a cold morning seems extremely tempting.
Occasionally, runners have to take some time off from running. This may look counter-intuitive but it is effective. One way is doing some cross-training which can also help you stay in shape other than running. (This is aside from the fact that you DID take some time off from running.) Add to your workout schedule a week for every two months perhaps of not running at all but doing another physical activity of your choice. The break from running makes you feel recharged and raring to go back running.