ask a runner: how to stay motivated

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you asked

How do you stay motivated to run? I can run on a consistent basis for about 2 weeks and then it seems like “life” gets in the way and I don’t have the time. - Kelly

What is your best advice for keeping up my motivation for running? It seems like I am always starting, run for a few weeks and then I stop. - Carolyn

When I was 14 I started running, I found it fun and exciting. I ran 4 days a week after school for 2 years straight but then after I realized that I liked the way my body looked, I stopped and haven’t ran for about a year now. I have started to realize that I am gaining a little bit of weight because I was so used to eating whatever I wanted, but now that I don’t work it off the pounds keep slowly adding up. For 5 months now I’ve been starting to try and run again but now I find it boring so I end up giving up. I’ve tried many things to make running more fun but after each run I end up bored and discouraged. Any ideas to keep me motivated and to make running seem more fun? - Megan

I’m a very athletic person now and I’ve always ran, but I’m having a hard time right now to get the motivation to run for longer than 5km. What do you suggest? – Jenn

a runner responds

Kelly, Carolyn, Megan, & Jenn

I find this question a bit difficult to answer, because everybody is motivated differently. Some of us are motivated to run because it helps clear our minds, while others are motivated because they’ve got a race goal, and some are motivated to run purely for aesthetic reasons. I can’t tell you where you fit in, nor why certain people seem to stick with it and why others can’t. What I can recommend, however, is what works for me.

I love entering local running races – you name it, I’ve done it. The crazier it sounds, the more brutal the terrain, the more game I get. By entering my name in something that is slightly above my comfort zone, this is what gets me out the door on a rainy Sunday morning. I write out my runs and distances in my daily planner and physically check off my runs as I complete them, along with picking up the groceries and taking back my library books. My runs, and other workouts for that matter, are pieces of my day that belong to me and are scheduled events. I enjoy the solitude, but I am busy interacting with people all day long. If you are someone that works from home, or is shut away in an office, try forming your own run club, or enroll a committed friend to meet you at a scheduled time on scheduled days in order to hold yourself accountable. As hard as it feels to get going sometimes, you should always feel great when you are finished.


This is Ainslie's final column as our first run expert in our Ask a Runner series. We'd like to thank Ainslie for sharing all her amazing run tips, education, and insight with our online guests. Check out her website to get to know her better:

We'll be back soon with more run experts to answer your questions. Stay tuned!

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Yes! Enter races and TELL THE WORLD about them! Friends move mountains to be supportive, because secretly they wish they could be as awesome as you.

But, admittedly, you can’t sign up for every single race. So go cheer on your friends. Or even better yet, volunteer at a water station.

Comment by Darryl — May 29, 2010 @ 8:39 am

As a runner for 20 years (and I’m only 30!), I find motivation in a variety of places. #1. My family: my Mom is a two-time breast cancer survivor and my Dad lives with MS and was recently diagnosed with Non-hodgkin’s lymphoma and exercise is STILL part of their everyday lives. They never stop being active and that gives me motivation on every single run. #2. My body: I feel better about myself and how I look after a run, even though I may not look any different than when I started my run, I FEEL different! #3. My soul: I volunteer with Achilles International (a running/walking group for disabled athletes) and nothing gets me motivated like guiding a visually impaired runner through a morning workout or a marathon like I did in NYC in 2005. #4. My runner friends (and husband): they’re someone to talk with about running, races, tough runs, injuries. Misery loves company, but so does ecstasy when it comes at the end of a GREAT run/race. #5. A charity close to your heart: I run every year for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, the National Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, and The Fisher House Foundation. Each of these charities holds a very special, deeply personal place in my heart and when I’m out running or training for the run, I remind myself what it is I am running for and I am INSPIRED!

Comment by Abby — May 30, 2010 @ 2:14 pm

I love the advice to sign up for runs…always have something to look forward to. Find runs you can race for PR’s and others where you take the watch/HR monitor off and just have fun. Maybe even sport a costume in an October race or Disneyland one.

Try getting outside your comfort zone and change things up. Leave the ipod at home, find a new route, change your pace up, do intervals, run on vacation…

Last advice, any activity is more fun with new equipment. New shoes, socks, sunglasses, shorts, shoelaces, whatever it doesn’t matter just have fun with it.

Comment by Aaron — June 3, 2010 @ 8:51 pm

Hello, I am 17 and I have a slightly embarrasing problem. But first some background information: I’m a vegetarian and do take some supplements and I have fibromyalgia that effects my joints. I have been doing yoga off and on for a few years but have become more dedicated to it recently (although I had to stop during exams a few weeks ago to study.), I usually do hot yoga. I also swim about once week. I am at a healthy weight. I just recently just started running. I can’t go very fast, or for very long or very far, but I know that it is good I am out there doing my best. But a week and a half ago or so I noticed I had a cramp in my stomach similar to the ones I get when I am mensturating. At first I figured this was just PMS but I found it got worse and worse as I ran. Just today it got so bad I had to take a short cut and go home early. As soon as I stop running it stops hurting. And, I skipped my period this month but I am not and never have been sexually active so I know it can’t be a pregnancy. Is this common? Do you have any idea what it could be? Should I go see my doctor?

Comment by robyn — July 1, 2010 @ 11:48 am

Hey Robyn,

for anything medical like this I would definitely consult your doctor.

Comment by Jenna — July 2, 2010 @ 12:23 pm

Hey, I’m 18, 5′0 and have a A36 or A38.I want to loose weight on my tummy and loose my love handles.I’m about 114 pounds. Will my boobs shrink that much? I know people are talking about how you can do excerise to increase them with muscles but I don’t want to that!!! I want my soft A36/A38 breasts!!! If I loose about 5 pounds will they really shrink that much? Someone please tell me!!! I really need advice! I’ve been tonning up and running more but im worried they will get a lot smaller!! I don’t want my breasts to get any smaller!!!!!!!! How much do you guys think they’ll shrink by running, if I lose about 5 pounds?

Comment by robyn — July 7, 2010 @ 8:07 pm

Robyn, the few times I’ve gotten a pain like that was because I was dehydrated. The heat makes this happen more quickly and more severely if you aren’t drinking enough water the day before your run as well as the hours before your run. Make sure you are carrying water with you if your heat index is high and you are going beyond 3 miles or so.

Comment by Monica — July 10, 2010 @ 4:26 pm

Hi There,

I’m thinking about entering my first race. It will take place in a little less than 8 weeks. I am an active person – i.e. go to the gym three times per week, but my gym visits don’t always involve a lot of cardio. I have done some running in the past, but have never participated in an organized event. The race is 20km. Is that too much for a first time out?

Comment by Melanie — August 24, 2010 @ 8:50 am

Hi Melanie!
I would suggest incorporating more runs into your routine in order to train for the 20km. Going to the gym and running a race are quite different. I can’t speak to whether 20km will be too much for you – it all depends on your personal fitness and stamina level. It might be helpful to join a running club to keep you motivated in your training. One of our lovely social media mavens, Whitney, chronicled her marathon training in her “road to the half marathon” posts. These might give you a better idea of the kind of training you’ll need. Check it out!

Comment by Laura M — August 24, 2010 @ 11:01 am

I’ve been running for three years and will be heading into my fourth year of running. I love it! I generally run 5x per week, nothing too fancy 5-6km per run and in the winter months I am on the treadmill and I shake it up with intervals. I never lose motivation. What can and does happen is what I like to call body breaks! if I don’t run for two days My body wants too! but if it doesn’t feel up to it I won’t either. Very rare this happens. I do have a book called the running woman and it was a book I read in the begining of my running lifestyle….early in that lifestyle I felt like I did lose my motivations and I picked up the book and it motivated me to get my butt in gear :) Running is a great stress releiver and is the most exhilirating part of my day :) as a matter of fact I will be hitting the treadmill very shortly…Sometimes just thinking about how running makes you feel can be your motivation. I also run outside from March/April to November and I run with my favorite pal “MOE” my English Springer Spaniel. He also keeps me motivated…So maybe a dog you have to excersize everyday will help motivate you too!!
Enjoy your running and try to keep up enthusiasm for it!! You will find after awhile you will not need motivation at all…Your body will tell you :)

Comment by Carrie-Anne — December 28, 2010 @ 7:02 am

Kelly, Carolyn, Megan, & Jenn,

Mix it up! While it is always nice to have a carrot out in front of you with a goal, such as a race. Your day to day running needs to have variety. If you run 4 days a week, make it a long run one day (and try mixing up your route), tempo on another, track practice the next and then choose an easy recovery or fartlek (depending on what specific goals are)
Also know that cross-training is an amazing way to mix up your week from getting bored and injured!

Comment by Kimberly Shah — April 12, 2011 @ 7:28 am

Sign up for a race. And then join a local running group. If it weren’t for my running buddies (who have become so much more) I would not have gotten out of bed for long run, speedwork, and the like on a consistent basis. Surrounding yourself with people who share the same goals, and who can encourage you, and keep you accountable and vice versa has been the best motivator for me.

Comment by kris c. — May 30, 2011 @ 2:33 pm

Hi iam 15 and i want to start running. i do play rubgy and have competed in a cross country with school, but i would like to start running more and at some point enter a race. Im not sure how to get started. How many times a week should I run, how far?

Comment by jasmin — August 10, 2011 @ 7:59 pm

Thanks for your question, Jasmin.

Best advice is to just put those shoes on and get out there. Start out slow and then build up over time as your running improves.

I would suggest starting with something like a 2-3km run twice a week. See how your body feels doing this level, then adjust to what you need.

Hope this helps! Happy running.

GEC Online Community

Comment by GEC Online Community — August 11, 2011 @ 1:22 pm

I love to run! However I always seem to think that people are whatching me and then I feel stressed and I breathe funny and adventully I get tired and have to stop. Then I look around and see if people are whatching me and I always think that poeple would think that I’m fat cause I cant run. So now I eaither run really earlie in the morning or really late. How can I help my self-consious running habbit?

Comment by Kat — November 13, 2011 @ 2:21 pm

I have been running for about 10-12 years not, Im 24 and an ex-collegiate athlete. I ran Cross-Country and was on the Rowing Team. I grew up very active in various sports but i LOVE running- During the middle of my running career in college I began have major knee issues and suspected hyper-extension. I have been to several Dr.s, and trainers only to say they do not know what is wrong with my knee (s)
The only multiple suggestions I get are steroid shots, and braces(which do not help)
I take bone and joint supplements, fish oil, and against my will taken a script of naproxen sodium.
The pain in unbearable and sometimes causes me not to be able to walk after running.
The catch/pain in on the right side of my knee cap on my right knee and left side of my left knee- Any suggestions from runners? Cant get any answers from Doctors.
Really depressing- ready to knock the Boston Marathon off my bucket list and cant even make it four miles on my knees

Comment by Jessica — December 5, 2011 @ 8:16 pm

I run first thing in the morning. Otherwise, I have excuses later not to run. Also, I love cute running clothes and accessories–they help me stay motivated.

Comment by Go Girl Bands — January 25, 2012 @ 5:49 pm


Yes, this is a question that I ask sometimes too. Here are a few things I have done that really help.

-(motivated externally that day) look on pinterest or runners world magazine and see ripped abs that I like haha

-download new music that I can not wait to go run too!

-if if is an inside kind of treadmill day, I like to look and see what shows are on my favorite channels and then make sure I am in the gym when they start, and I can watch my show while I run!

-ask a friend to go

-think of a good dinner or something to cook after my good hard run, BUT only after! haha

Comment by Rachel — February 17, 2012 @ 4:02 pm

you cannot always expect to stay motivated but motivation isn’t the only thing that will get you outside. HABIT! eventually you will build a habit. it takes 60 days on average to build a habit and 20 days to ruin one so keep going push through and one day it will seem like an everyday errand.


Comment by Rebecca — November 26, 2012 @ 11:16 am

Hi all!
So where I live the temperature is dropping fast and I went from wearing my speed shorts, to my crops, and now to pants with in a weeks time. Crazy! The problem is, is that the Lululemon showroom in my town is under construction in becoming an actual store (AHHH :D)! But I don’t have any way of trying on the new running pants. I am torn between the Speed Tight*Cozy and the Speed Tight *Luxtreme. I think that the *Cozy sounds nice for this crisp winter runs, but the Luxtreme looks as if it has a higher waist which I also really like, any help? Thanks a bunch lululemon, you guys keep me motivated everyday :)

Comment by Emma — September 25, 2013 @ 9:30 pm

Hi Emma,
Both pieces are mode from our Luxtreme fabric which will provide you with a technical item to run in. I personally find the Speed Tight *Cozy a warmer running bottom since the Luxtreme has been brushed which provides a fleece like feel. There must be some serious excitement around the new store and if you’d love to chat more in detail about product, feel free to reach out to us at 1.877.263.9300.
~ Siya

Comment by lululemon athletica GEC — September 26, 2013 @ 8:55 am

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