So, you’re in a slump and you don’t feel like running. That’s why you’ve turned to me for some kind of advice. Well, I’m Jesse Funk and on today’s episode of Runner’s High, I’m going to tell you exactly what to do when you’re just not motivated to run anymore.

As I’m filming this, we are all still in quarantine, staying at home, not doing anything, races have been canceled, seasons have been postponed, goals have been slashed; things have just gone out the window for people and that results in a lot of unmotivated people.

But you don’t need a quarantine to lose motivation. Lots of things happen in life to all of us, me and you included and that means it’s sometimes we’re just not gonna feel like running. And the first thing I have to say is simply, that’s okay. You have to know it’s okay to not want to go run.

If you’ve been working at a really high level for a very, very long time or a very consistent schedule, many, many days a week for many months or many years, and you just feel ugh, I don’t want to do anything. You may be burnt out or overtraining.

It may be a good opportunity for you to step back, let that type A personality down for just a second. I know it’s going to be tough but step back, and don’t go for a run, lead into that motivation to not do anything, and then reassess your life. Now, if you are beginning a new program, or you don’t really work out that often and you’re still unmotivated, I like to go back to what former pro triathlete, Chris McCormack said in an interview I watched.

Chris had this trick for himself. Now you can imagine as a pro triathlete, he’s working out 20, 30 hours a week, maybe more. We don’t really know exactly his training schedule. Pros don’t often share those things, but he’s gonna be working out a considerable amount more than most of us. Probably you, definitely me. And so it takes a toll on the body, it takes a toll on the mind.

Chris’s trick was when he got up early to go to the pool and had to get in the pool and he didn’t want to do it. He would say to himself, okay, all I have to do is swim just a couple laps, one, two laps. If I still don’t want to swim, I can get out of the pool and go home.

More often than not what Chris found was that once he was swimming, he was fine. He was good to go. The same thing can apply to your run. Decide, hey, you know, I’m just gonna go out, I’m gonna run down the block. I’m gonna run for two minutes, whatever it is, something easy, something low commitment.

And at the end of that you still don’t like running, it’s probably a good time to go home. But like Chris, you probably find that you continue and you go on and you continue with your routine and are happier with yourself afterwards because you completed it.

This is actually a really great gut check. Because if you do end up in that kind of overtraining period, like I mentioned earlier, for people that have worked really hard and work their bodies very, very hard; it’s a good way to say, “Hey, you know, maybe I am working too hard, maybe I need a little bit more rest.” Your body kind of gives you some of these signals sometimes that say, you need to back off.

So, using Chris’s trick is a great mental tip for you to figure out am I overtraining? Or am I simply anxious about not being able to perform to whatever standard I’ve set up my own mind?

If you want a first hand account of how this works, you actually need to go way back, Episode Six of the Smart Athlete Podcast when I interviewed Chris Douglas. He talks about and his suggestion was, I get to decide at any given time, how hard I want to work and how much I want to hurt. Keeping that in mind keeps you intact, both mentally and physically.

Knowing that I do get to decide I’m in charge of my life, I’m in charge of this feeling in charge of how hard I’m going. So, know that you use Chris’s strict, Chris McCormick’s trick, and then you can use Chris Douglass’s thought here about being in charge and knowing that if I’m going too hard, I can let go today, and that is okay.

But if you happen to be unmotivated because of a lack of goals, like right now, when everybody has no goals, no races coming up, so they don’t have PRs to set and any of that kind of thing, you must remember that goals ultimately, are all arbitrary. Now, that sounds a little esoteric, and maybe it is. But if you think about it, all the goals we set for ourselves are made up, all of them.

Now, where do we come up with these distances? Okay. They kind of become standards over time through tradition, but there’s nothing that says okay, a 5K is perfect. Why don’t we run a 6K? Or why don’t we run a 4K or a 4.6 or 5.3 or whatever it is? Those distances are ultimately arbitrary to a greater or lesser degree.

So, when you keep that in mind, you can say, okay, then I can make up an arbitrary goal that makes sense for me in chase after that. For me, in particular, a while ago, I decided I wanted to run the incline, which is a very, very steep, short, almost a mile long trail run in Colorado Springs. So, my coach and I kind of set to adding different things into my training that would allow me to ascend easier.

There’s nothing around here in Kansas City that’s anywhere near the ascent on the incline, the average grade somewhere around 45% if my memory serves me, right, and we don’t have anything like that around here. So, I added that stuff into my training, it kept me motivated to do my strength work, to keep running, to do all these kind of things because it was a goal I had.

Now keep in mind, there was no race going on out there. Nobody went with me, I flew out by myself. You know, there was no point, there’s no record to set. I’m not fast enough to set a new record on their course. It was simply a matter of, this is what I wanted to do so I decided to do it. So, races don’t always have to be the thing that motivates you. You have to figure out what it is that motivates you; some new challenge, a sense of experience, and go after that.

Lastly, I’ve talked about this in another episode of Runner’s High, but it bears repeating here. Goals don’t necessarily have to be the thing that motivates you. What’s important when you can’t find goals that you want is that you return to the thing that brought you joy in the first place with running.

If you love trail running, run awesome trails. If you like long runs, go on a long run. If you like track work, do track work. Whatever it is that you like, do more of that because again, because all these goals are arbitrary, times don’t mean anything.

At the end of the day, it’s the experiences that we have, those memories that we create; those are going to be things that are most powerful and most meaningful to us and keep us motivated. That’s what you have to focus on.

Find your joy, find your bliss, and that is where you will be able to get your motivation and stay consistent with your running. So, if you have any questions for me, anything you want to know about running, anything you’re struggling with, leave it in the comment below. I’d like to make a video just for you.