Staying Motivated To Run Without Races

I make no secret of the fact I’m terrible about running regularly when I’m not training for a race. Give me training plan and a race day and I’ll run religiously.

Tell me to run just because I can? Yeah, No. I’ll never get out the door.

I’ve taken a few months away from running with All This. I was planning on taking a bit of a break after my leap day 50k, anyway. As it turned out, the break just was just a little more complete than anticipated.

But after a few months of not running, I’m itching to get back to it.

However, with the return to racing still unclear, I’ve been thinking about how to manage my race-less running motivation.

Finding Running Motivation – Raceless Edition

Race day glory isn’t the only way to find motivation to run.

Train For A Race Anyway

OK, this is maybe a cheat considering I just said training for a race isn’t the only motivation, but…

Still train for a race, just one a long time away.

While I’m terrible about running if I’m not training for a race, I’ve also learned that I can pretty easily manipulate myself by creating a ridiculously long training cycle.

Instead of a standard 18-week marathon training program, make your training plan a 25 or 30-week plan.

Start training now for a race next spring.

An extra long training plan will give you the chance to build a solid mileage base and will allow you to increase mileage slowly and responsibly.

You know, like you always should be doing, but often don’t?

And I can hear you asking, “But what if we still aren’t racing 30 weeks from now or next spring?”

We’ll climb that hill when (and if) we get to it.

Do A Virtual Race or Challenge

Virtual races are having a moment.

You can train for and run one of the hundreds of virtual races that have popped up.

Bonus points if you run a virtual race organized by an IRL race organizer – keep supporting those companies whose job it is (in normal times) to bring us runners together.

Brazen Racing and Run Local Events are two companies in the Bay Area who put on amazing IRL races and who have been forced to go virtual-only for the time being.

If a virtual 5k isn’t your thing (‘I can run three miles any day of the week, what makes a 5k virtual race any different?’). I get it.

Try one of the virtual race challenges that have also popped up. These are running challenges designed to take days or even months to complete.

The Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee 1000k, or Run Local’s 500 mile Run Across California fit into this category.

Create a DIY Challenge

Not all challenges require registration.

Create your own challenge.

Run 100 miles or 1000 miles.

Run the distance across your (state, town, your favorite national park) in (a week, a month, the summer).

Climb the equivalent of Mt. Everest by Labor Day (29,000ish feet – Magda Boulet, a pro runner and former Olympian just ran the elevation equivalent of Everest in one day- running one short segment 60+ times).

Keep track of your distances (or elevation, or whatever you are tracking) on Garmin or Strava.

I’ve seen a few Instagram friends start up ‘running every street in…’ challenges, where they will run every single street in their home towns.

How big of challenge this would be for you depends on where you live.

Change Your Focus

All too often, race-focused training looks to mileage.

I know when I’m training for a big event, I’ll tell myself I can’t spend too much time and energy on strength work or yoga, because of all the miles I’m running.

Deep down, I know this is an excuse (and not a very good one at that), but it’s what I tell myself when training for an ultra.

But now?

Even I can’t convincingly tell myself I can’t spend time doing yoga ‘because of my high mileage.’

While I haven’t been running while sheltering in place, I have done 30-day barre and 30-day yoga challenges, focusing on the mobility and strength that I all too easily ignore while race training.

Switch up your running motivation, by focusing less on mileage, and more on… well… anything else.

  • Focus on adding in yoga or strength work into your training
  • Run hills
  • Try a trail run
  • Focus on recovery
  • Start a running journal
  • Try mindful running

Go Down the YouTube or Netflix Rabbit Hole – Running Style

Don’t feel like running, but instead just want to sit on the couch and watch Netflix?

Why not do both?

Get inspired and motivated to run by watching others race, run, or train.

A few to get you started:

Whatever kind of running/races/events/scenery you like, there is something out there to inspire you.

Connect on Social Media

Group running (as of this writing) is still a no-no, but that doesn’t mean you are on your own.

Stay connected with your running friends via Strava, Facebook or Instagram.

Strava groups are generally more focused on running stats (with segment leaders and leaderboards).

Instagram can be anything you want it to be depending on who you connect with. Follow a bunch of people and see you who respond to. Unfollow anyone who makes you feel angsty or dissatisfied with your own running. Overall, I’ve found the online running community to be super welcoming and supportive.

Follow your IRL running friends virtually, or follow runners around the world you’ve never met.

The meme is totally true – no one supports you like an online running friend you’ve never met.

I’m @puffincoaching on Instagram. I’m just sayin’…


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