It’s the time of year when motivation can be at an all-time low. You were feeling great about your resolutions, but now, you’re a creative genius coming up with excuses. Like any relationship, our relationship with running is an art. We need to stay positive and keep the excitement, even when times are tough. January is that time, but staying stoked on trail running is essential to our long-term progress as a runner. If you need to rekindle the flame with your trail running, try these tricks to keep the stoke alive:
1. Sign up for a race
Some people are motivated by having a race to look forward to. If this is you, check out local trail races or book a runcation to an exotic trail or mountain race. Get in touch with your local trail running club to learn more.
2. Don’t sign up for a race
While some people like having a race on the calendar, other people feel pressured. Feeling pressure can inhibit motivation. You don’t have to run trail races to be a trail runner. If the idea of racing isn’t exciting you, then don’t race. The goal is to feel stoked about running, not fearful of a start line. It’s OK to say no to a race. You may end up with a greater love for running.
4. Phone a friend
If you’re running solo on an easy run, call up your best friend at the same time. Pretend you are a guest star on Who Wants to be a Millionaire, except the cash prize is some pep in your step.
5. Run a new route
If you’re a trail running creature of habit, try changing it up. On your next easy run, find a new trail, or a route you haven’t run in a while. Can’t think of a route? Ask your local running store, RunGo App, or Strava.
6. Purposely forget your watch
Sometimes running with a watch can be a motivator, but it can also provide us with data we don’t want to see. To keep running fun, run without your watch. Pick a route you know, pretend you’re a puppy, and forget about the pace. In winter especially, the surface you run on can vary day to day, and hour to hour. Pace means less than it would in perfect conditions. Effort is what you should be focussing on. Just remember to keep it easy, if that’s what your training calls for.
7. Plan an adventure
You don’t need to go away on a vacation to have an adventure. In trail running, you can plan an adventure wherever you live. Invite your best running buddies and plan a day to explore outside. Call it the DIY-Ultra.
8. Take a full rest day
Sometimes the trick to motivation is simply having the energy to feel recharged again. Many run coaches consider full rest days a non-negotiable. Give yourself a full rest day, without yoga, strength, or cross training. In other words, have a normal person day. Instead of sweating, get your hair cut, clean your room, visit a museum, read a book, put on pants, etc. Pretend you are normal, and not a dirtbag trail runner on this day.
9. Rearrange your training schedule
Like rearranging furniture to feel anew, changing up your training week can help you feel like a new runner. Training with the same routine week after week isn’t helpful for our motivation. Always have rest day on a Monday? Change it to Wednesday or Sunday for a few weeks. If you’re feeling really crazy, do your long run on a Tuesday.
10. Try something new
If you’re human, you are familiar with the feeling of wanting something you can’t have. Decide to ski, snowshoe, spin, or swim for a few days. Chances are you will be reminded of how much you love running.