What to Do When You’re Just Not Motivated to Run

What to do when you're not motivated to run

When you’re not motivated to run, it can be challenging to get out there. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that I usually listen when my body tells me I don’t want to run.

I’m not a coach, I’m not a nutritionist, and I’m not a professional or expert.  I’m just a person who likes to run and also blog.

What to do when you're not motivated to run

One of the questions I received was “what to do when you’re not motivated to run.” As runners, we’ve all been through a time that we “just didn’t feel like running.”  Last April and May, I was burned out.  Between life and not wanting to run, it took me nearly 4 months to be consistently back to training again.  This year, there was a time in early April; I felt the same way.  Instead of pushing through and probably hurting myself, I took a few days off.

The world did not end.  Running was there when I was ready.

For most of us, running is not a full-time job or profession, and it’s okay to take time off.

After a big race, I don’t always find myself not motivated to run.  If the race didn’t go well, I might be less motivated.  Even if the race did go well, I might not be motivated to run because a new goal race is “so far off.”  Throughout the years, I find recovery from any big race is essential. When you’re not motivated to run, it can also be your body telling you to rest.

When You’re Not Motivated to Run, There is No Shame in Recovery; in Fact, it’s Important:

I can’t stress this enough.  If you attempt to jump back into mileage and workouts after a big race, you’ll get hurt.  I’ve been there before and suffered the consequences.  After Copper Mountain, I bee-bopped around, ran with family, and just enjoyed my week if I run, yay! If I didn’t…who care.  For instance, with an overnight flight delay in Denver, I wasn’t motivated to run in NJ at 2:30 pm in July…so I didn’t.

It wasn’t worth it to wake up at 3:30 am and run, and it wasn’t worth it to me to run in 100 degrees. Recovery was the best that day, and it became another rest day.

Recovery Includes Mental Recovery:

When you mentally invest so much in a race, it’s important to realize that you need some mental downtime after that race.  When you’re not motivated to run, it’s often your body mentally telling you: relax for a little while. Let your brain and mental health recover too!  As someone who took many college classes in mental health, it’s important to ask yourself: is what I’m doing making me mentally healthy?  The rest time allows you to reset and recharge for the next race.

Set a New Goal:

If your next goal race is months away, find smaller goals or races.  Personally, I prefer racing frequently because it gives me “something to look forward to.” My not motivation to run can be turned around by motivation for smaller races.

While I prefer big, competitive races for a goal race, I like smaller local races. I can decide on race day if I want to run and have something to look forward to.  If you find yourself not motivated to run, look for some smaller races that you can do!

Switch it Up:

When you’re motivated to run, switch it up. This is good advice for burn out or just staying mentally motivated.  A few ways to switch up your running:

  • A new distance
  • New routes or surfaces (trails, go on the roads, heck even zone out to the treadmill if you desire)
  • Run with Friends
  • Run Your “route” backward. Yes, that makes for a whole new run.

Reward Yourself:

Whether that is a physical or mental reward, give yourself something to look forward to.  Someone I personally know puts a dollar in a jar every run they do.  That would easily turn my not motivation to run into a big motivation to run. They end up buying new running shoes or gear with the money, which I think is fun!  You don’t have to reward yourself with anything expensive or food-related, but if it’s something you look forward to, then it counts.

When You’re Not Motivated to Run, You Might Need Time Off:

When all else doesn’t work out, don’t be afraid to take time off.  We all need running breaks both for mental and physical health.  These days, social media has made it easy to compare yourself to everyone else out there.  It feels like “everyone else is running” and running well when that isn’t the truth.  We all go through the highs and lows of running, and it’s important to remember why you did it (for you).


Sometimes people mistake not being motivated to run with laziness. Sometimes, just changing where and how you run is enough, but sometimes your body truly needs the rest and recovery. Don’t be afraid to try something new or take time off.

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Questions for you:

What do you do when you’re not motivated to run?

Do you take time off after a goal race?


  1. Great tips! I was just talking with a fellow runner last week how social media and things DO really make it seem like everyone is always running or always running more or faster! As you know, I’ve learned that recovery is so important. I also am one of those people the past few years who doesn’t get anxious if they aren’t running every day or even every other day. I go with the flow for my goals or how I’m feeling because getting burned out is real!

  2. Great words! I have a difficult time being okay with a day off of running, but it has to happen sometimes

  3. These are such great tips! Right now in the dog days of summer I’m having a hard time getting out the door, so I’m motivating myself by getting support from friends.

  4. I’ve gone though this several times and have learned that giving yourself as much of a break as you need is the way to go! I also tend to set new goals (like you suggested) and that seems to do the trick !

  5. Love this! I just spent some time thinking about this exact thing, except that I am injured, as opposed to unmotivated. I think what helps me through tough periods is finding new hobbies, and they don’t even have to be exercise-related. I also find that biking my running routes makes me itch to go run on them again. Time off can be so productive.

  6. Keeping races on my schedule keeps me motivated.
    Sometimes I can keep my weekly mileage going without a race to train for, but it sure helps!

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