Finding Your New Motivation for Running During Quarantine

Finding Your New Motivation for Running During Quarantine

There’s so much uncertainty lately about when races can resume again that it can be a little discouraging for anyone in training — that’s assuming a race is one of your running goals, of course.

Racing will come back, sooner or later. And when it does, what runner doesn’t want to be in prime condition to register for the first big challenge they can? Until that time, however, it’s tough to stay motivate.

Hey, I get it! Personal side note here: I love running and do it every day without fail. But even I love have races as something train for. At the start of 2020, I told myself that one of my running goals was to do ten full or half marathons in at least five different states. Looks as if that’s a goal that’s not going to come to fruition for me.

If you’re feeling the same way, it might be time to reevaluate your running goals and find new motivation. Ask yourself why you’ve taken up running? What do you want to accomplish? What will be your measure of success? Until you’re able to register for a race, whether that’s at the end of the summer or sometime later, what are you training for?

Here are a few ways to motivate yourself while you’re out running these days.

Set a tangible goal that’s not dependent on anyone else (think miles, time, consistency, etc.)

Sure, whatever race you’re training for has been pushed to late summer or the fall. That gives you plenty of time, so you might feel more inclined to slack off. But what if you set a personal goal with a much shorter deadline.

Maybe you want to work your way up to being able to run a certain number of miles without stopping.

Or you want to be able to do a 3-miler, 5-miler or even 10-miler in a certain amount of time.

Or maybe you just want to be consistent enough to run five days a week and go for a walk on your off days (yes, light physical activity is good for your recovery, even on rest days).

Decide on a goal and set a deadline four weeks out — that’s long enough to achieve something significant but short enough that you can stay focused. Then decide what you want to accomplish each week. So if you want to run 6 miles in 45 minutes by Independence Day, and it currently takes you a little over an hour, aim to trim approximately five minutes off your time each week.

Remember to Stay Motivated while running
Don't forget to keep that same race day mentality. Here's a runner having fun at the Inaugural Canan Valley Half Marathon

Remember the health benefits and keep a journal about how you feel (physically, mentally, AND emotionally).

The tough reality of taking up an exercise routine to lose weight is that results don’t happen overnight or even in a week — that can be discouraging. Sure, consistency and dedication over many weeks and months will make a difference, but it’s tough to stay motivated for that long.

However, it’s important to remember that running has great health benefits for you, and you’re very likely going to feel better once you start doing it, regardless of what the number on the scale says.

Like other cardiovascular endurance activities, running is great for your heart, and it improves your circulation, lowers your blood pressure, and ups your energy levels.

Running is also good for your mind. Not only does it reduce stress levels but also it can help clear your head and improve your focus afterward. Studies have even shown links between cardiorespiratory fitness and cognitive function.

It’s good for your emotional health, too, as high-intensity workouts are good for combatting depression and boosting your mood.

Keep a wellness journal as you start your running routine and allow yourself to reflect on how you feel. Is your mood better? Do you have more energy during the day? Are you sleeping better at night? You’ll quickly start to realize all the ways running is changing you.


Multitask by using running as a time to catch up on entertainment.

I love to listen to music when I go out running, but you know what else I like to listen to? Podcasts. Audiobooks. Standup comedy. There’s plenty of media that I would never get the chance to enjoy if I didn’t have two hours a day to myself to enjoy it.

So use the time you’re out running to catch up on all the entertainment you’re in the habit of missing. You might not be motivated to go out for a run, but you’re definitely motivated to listen to that podcast you enjoy. Before you know it, you’ll have listened to audiobooks of everything on the New York Times bestsellers list, and if you’ve become a dedicated runner in the process — well, that’s just a bonus, right?

Make yourself your own rewards.

When you register for a race, you keep some pretty cool keepsake premiums — T-shirts, sometimes a pull-over, a hat, your medal, and so on. Why not make some of your own stylish running swag to celebrate your dedication during quarantine. Order some clothing dye or iron-on transfer paper online, plus a pack or two of white undershirts, and start creating some cool conversation pieces you can wear when you’re running. Make a tie-dyed T-shirt or bandana after you achieve one of your running goals. Sure, it’s kinda quirky, but it’s something that represents YOU and your accomplishments, so wear it proudly and have fun.

Picture of Dylan Roche

Dylan Roche

is an Annapolis-based writer and marathon runner. As a journalist focused on everything from fitness to arts and culture, he has written for a variety of publications, including Livestrong, What’s Up Annapolis, OurHealth Virginia, UpstART and Chesapeake Family Life. His first novel, “The Purple Bird,” came out in 2019. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @DylanIsWriting