Staying Motivated During the Marathon Training Doldrums

Marathon Training Motivation

I’m currently in the most blah time of the marathon training schedule. I call it The Abyss.

The Abyss arrives about a month before the marathon. The initial excitement that comes with starting training has passed. The mileage is long, long enough to be inconvenient. But I also know it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

The Abyss is part of the natural ebb and flow of motivation and enthusiasm that occurs during the marathon training cycle.

For me, The Abyss is the necessary evil that I just need to plow through. I need to distract myself, pull out all the mental tricks I can, and develop selective amnesia.

Over the years, I have tried every trick in the book to maintain marathon training motivation while in the Abyss. Some tips have worked, others didn’t. But everyone is motivated by different things, so try a few until you find something that works. Some tips are for anytime inspiration and others are best utilized in a run.

marathon abyss

Ideas for Anytime Anywhere

Remember Your Why

Remember why you started this whole running and marathoning thing to start with.

Refocus on why it is important to you.

Evaluate Your Progress

Take a moment to remember where you started and how far you’ve come. Especially if you are new to running, it’s easy to lose sight of where you were week 1.

Build Anticipation

Build anticipation and excitement for the event. Visit the merchandise store, plan a post-event party or dinner.


Seek out inspirational quotes and mantras. I love inspirational quotes. I’m a total sucker for them. I have several Pinterest boards dedicated to them.


Reach out to other runners for support, especially if they have trained for a marathon. Other marathon runners have been there and commiserate and offer support.


Start planning for what you will do when you finish the marathon. Plan a post-event get away. Start researching other ways to spend Saturday mornings when they won’t be filled with long runs (what do non-marathoners do on Saturday mornings, anyway?). Find a 5k fun run a few weeks after the marathon to keep you moving during your recovery.

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Ideas to Stay Enthusiastic During a Run


Marathon Training Motivation
I promise there is a light at the end of the tunnel, you just have to keep running to find it.

Dedicate each mile of a run to a friend or loved one. Spend the mile thinking about why they are important to you, what they bring to your life, and what you hope to bring to theirs.

Get Out the Door

Stick to the schedule and get out the door- the hardest part is often getting out the door.

Designate a spot 10 minutes from your house- if you go out for a run, reach that spot and still don’t feel it, give yourself permission to turn around and go home guilt-free. In my years of running, I feel like not doing a run several times a month, I’ve actually turned around and gone home maybe twice.

Don’t Dwell

Don’t write the review of your performance until it’s over. If a run isn’t going well, don’t dwell on it. Focus on what you can do in that moment to improve.

Break it Up

Set short goals within each run and think of it in 5K or mile increments. If the going gets really tough, set really short goals (I’ll make it to the tree or stoplight up ahead).

Selective Amnesia

Develop selective amnesia. Remembering all your bad runs can sap your enthusiasm and motivation, so don’t.

Learn what you can from the bad runs and events and then forget about them. Focus on the positive experiences.

Think the Storytelling Potential

As my mother always says, what does not kill you makes you stronger. It’s the horrible runs in bad conditions that are the most memorable. Try to think of bad runs as future fodder for great storytelling.


How do you stay motivated?

Marathon Training Motivation


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