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Keeping the (Running) Spark Alive

It’s almost Valentine’s Day and that means it’s a great time to talk about things we love.

Running is definitely near the top of my list but even though it’s something I love, I still find it hard sometimes to find the motivation. Guys, running is hard and sometimes it’s just hard to love it.

Reigniting that spark doesn’t have to be hard but it may take some time and patience depending on what you are feeling and what the cause is. Injuries, burnout, and boredom can all cause a lack of love for running and each take different tactics (and sometime medical professionals) to overcome.

We all go through cycles with running. Sometimes it’s what ignites our life and other times it’s something we just do because it’s what we’ve always done (and maybe we signed up for a bunch of races when we were really feeling that running vibe & know we have to get out there or suffer the consequences on race day).

For me, I lose that running spark when running becomes another thing that feels overwhelming and not like it’s adding to my life or my health. When I’m just in the mentality that I just have to “get this run done”. Sometimes I can pull myself out of this or still find those good runs even when I’ve fallen out of love with running and here are the ways I do that.

  1. Take a new route – this is the easiest one for me and usually means hitting a trail. Trails make me “feel the run more”. The inclines are hard, the footing needs more attention, and being in nature fills up my cup in a different way. However, just going a different way or making a loop instead of an out and back can really help get you out of your head and feel your run!

  2. Do some speed work – Sometimes I just get bored. When every run is just some variation on an “easy” run I just start to feel like a hamster on a wheel. Adding in some simple speed can help break up the run in a new and different way. Do some casual fartleks where you run faster between driveways or trees or set up your Garmin to alert you to run faster for 0.25mile of each mile. Make your mind work in a different way but don’t feel like you need to overthink it. Let’s be honest speed work makes you feel freaking awesome when you are done!

  3. Sign up for a race – There are SO MANY races these days and they can be great motivation to get you excited. Find a race, set a goal, set up your training plan, and go! You can also start thinking about that post race reward (breakfast, massage, donuts???) to keep you extra motivated!

  4. Run with someone – I’m not one for group runs but, honestly, even I know they help make running feel easier and more fun. Look for group runs at your local running store or see if there are people in your social circles that might want to join you. It never hurts to give it a try or put out the request!

  5. Find inspiration online – I love social media most because it’s filled with people just crushing it. Seeing other people crush it, makes me want to crush it. Find those that inspire and lift you up.

  6. Listen to a podcasts that makes you learn something – Some of my favorite runs are those where I’ve found a podcast that really makes me think. I love Stuff You Should Know, This American Life, and 99% Invisible because they keep me interested and entertained every time.

  7. Stop running – Are you just straight burned out either physically or mentally? Do some other kind of exercise and come back to running when you feel like you are ready to. It’s winter and it’s hard to find the motivation sometimes so take this moment to try some new gym classes or something that’s fun and indoors. Sometimes distance makes the heart grow fonder and running will always welcome you back!

Note if you are feeling the true signs of burn out you should take some time off and seek medical attention if that is what’s needed. Here’s a site listing some basic signs of burnout to help:

So those are the ways that help me find that running spark again. We all go through cycles and it’s just recognizing that you need to do what makes you happy.

I’m a very dedicated and focused person (to a fault sometimes) and I will forget that I don’t “have” to run, I “get” to run. Finding ways to ensure I’m keeping that as my driving force makes me a happier person and runner.

So find the love and share the love!

Stay healthy and happy my friends!

How do you keep that running “spark” when it’s started to extinguish? Leave a comment below or come tweet at me!

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