Okay, so you’ve been dedicated to your exercise routine for awhile now but maybe you find yourself looking for excuses to skip it, or you’re just not putting in the effort you used to. It’s normal to start feeling bored if you do the same routine day in and day out. Clearly you already know that you need to exercise and yet the motivation continues to wane as time goes on. Read on and let’s get you back on track!

As a distance runner for almost 7 years I’ve had my ups and downs with running. I’ve even had a few times where I was sure I would never choose to run again. One of those came in the middle of a half marathon I ran back in the Spring of 2012. I was physically trained enough and the first part of the race had gone pretty well. Then at mile 8 we got stopped by a train crossing right over the race course. When I first stopped I began telling myself that it was okay because I could use the break to fuel and stretch lightly. Banter between runners started and I was feeling happy to be racing. Then as more minutes went by I began to get cold. I had removed a couple of layers as I’d warmed over the previous miles and now I stood in the cold in a tank and skort, great for running but bad for standing around. Meanwhile, I watched several runners go off course to run along the tracks to get to the end of the very long train and cross the tracks. That seemed a bit dangerous to me so I decided to wait it out. Finally our path cleared and we were off. Unfortunately my brain had decided we were all done running for the day and my body happily complied. The last few miles were not pretty! The voices in my head stated that we hated running, running is stupid, questioned why anyone would do this and vowed never again. At the finish line my new boyfriend was excited to see me nearing the finish until he saw the look on my face. He wisely approached me quietly at the end and asked what I wanted to do. That was easy, I wanted to skip the party at the finish line and go home.

I didn’t realize it at the time but I was in a boredom phase with my running that had been building up for awhile. So as soon as things got tough during the race I was ready to give up. Thankfully that wasn’t the end of running for me. I luckily came across the book, ‘Marathoning for Mortals’ by John Bingham and Jenny Hatfield. In that book I learned for the first time the importance of mindset in racing and training. I happily signed up for more races after that and I’ve never considered quitting running again. There are still ups and downs but I’m now able to see the big picture better and I’ve decided for me, once a runner always a runner, applies.

Knowing that mindset it so important when getting through rough patches in racing and day to day workouts I want to share with you some of my favorite ways to shake up a routine when things start to feel stale. All of these tips can affect how you view exercising and provide you with a boost of motivation to keep going.

If you workout with music, try adding new songs on your playlist. Not sure what to add? Ask your friends to share their favorite titles with you for ideas.

Take a break and try something new. If you normally workout solo, take a class or join a group. I often find I draw energy from others during my runs and the company makes the time go by faster.

“A common reason given for quitting an exercise program is boredom. A variety of class formats will keep you motivated and interested, as well as give you different instructor styles, music selection, and interaction with other participants. For many, an hour-long workout goes by very quickly when there is music playing and you are trying new exercises. People stay interested because of the social atmosphere” Shawn Dolan, Ph.D., R.D., CSSD American College of Sports Medicine

Already taking classes or participating in groups? Try going solo and see how that feels. You may enjoy the time to go at your own pace. I find running solo is a great time for me to work through different ideas in my mind. If going solo doesn’t appeal to you perhaps it’s time to try a new class. Do you hit that same spin class every Saturday morning at 8am? Maybe it’s time to try a yoga or pilates class. Not only does your mindset benefit from the change so will your body as you workout new muscles or the same muscles in a different way.

If you normally log your miles on the treadmill, maybe it’s time to try trail running or a run along the waterfront. Taking your workouts from indoors to outdoors can be quite refreshing as the scenery continually changes.

I’m not a proponent of over spending but now and then purchasing new workout gear can be motivating. I’m always excited to wear new running shoes or try out a new running watch as soon as I leave the store with it in my possession. You don’t want to break the bank buying new workout gear but now and then it can be a fun way to keep you moving.

A word of caution when it comes to working out. Being bored with your workouts isn’t the same as being burned out. When I say burnout I’m talking about what happens when someone pushes themselves too hard day in and day out and their mind and body begin to protest. Burnout is a topic to cover another time but let me just say it’s important to give your body the recovery it needs so you can avoid injury and in general enjoy your workouts.

Last but by no means least, the ideas listed above can help change things up for your routine but the bottom line is often times you just won’t feel like doing the work that needs to be done. Do it anyway. Seriously. Embrace the fact that you won’t feel like it, do it anyway and remember that more often than not you’ll feel so much better afterwards.

If you’ve been suffering from workout boredom lately I hope these tips are helpful. You’ve worked hard to create and establish a workout habit for yourself so don’t let that hard work go to waste. Shake things up and keep moving!


  • Colleen Cleary

    HHC, Founder of The Cleary Method

    Colleen Cleary is a certified holistic health coach, healthy habits expert, and independent rep with Zyia Activewear working in Portland, Oregon. She founded The Cleary Method to give her clients tools and strategies around mindset, healthy habits & nutrition so they can ditch dieting and get results that stick. In her off time she enjoys spending time with her boyfriend, Jim, 3 kids Jonathan, Sophie and Maddie, friends and BRFs in the local running group she manages. She also loves running and racing, trying new recipes, camping, traveling, chai tea and dark chocolate. Learn more about Colleen and her coaching practice at colleencleary.net