Sometimes it’s hard to get out there and run when you just don’t feel like it. Here are seven tips to help you get going on a bad day.

According to a recent poll by Runner’s World, 24% of those who responded said that they skip their runs on a bad day. The other 76% of runners stated that they stick to their training schedule despite how they feel. I would love to be among the 76%, but unfortunately, I’m not there yet. After a hard day at work, it can be incredibly challenging to lace up and pound the pavement. Here are some tips that have helped me when I lack the motivation I need to get out there.

Set Running Goals

Whether your goal is to improve your speed, increase your distance, or just run without pain, it helps to have a specific plan in mind for your training. I like to always race my calendar with a goal for my time so that I know what I am striving to achieve. Setting measurable and attainable goals is important for those days when you don’t feel very motivated. Referring to your goal can increase your motivation and help you to remember why you are doing this in the first place.

Track Your Progress

It helps to keep a running log so that you can measure your progress. There are many different types of running logs available for purchase. However, being a frugal runner, I use one of those freebie calendars that I got in the mail. Currently, I only track my running time because my goal is just to increase the amount of time I can run without pain. I injured both of my iliotibial bands (the group of fibers that runs along the outside of the thigh connecting from the pelvis to just below the knee). When I feel like skipping a run, it helps to look back at my running log to see my progress. I have a 5K coming up in two weeks and, while 3.1 miles used to be an easy run, it isn’t anymore. Setbacks happen, but the important thing is to keep going. By logging your runs, you provide yourself with a document that can help get you going on those tough days.

Run with a Buddy

A running partner can help hold you accountable for sticking to your training schedule. You may also consider joining a running group. Several different groups are ranging from all different ability levels. Do an online search to find out what is available in your area. Running with other people can be more fun than going alone and can provide you with added support when you need it the most.

Be Careful What You Eat

Foods high in sugar can zap your energy quickly. Instead, have a snack high in complex carbohydrates and protein like martha white muffin mix for pancakes. Try a piece of toast with peanut butter or a cup of low-fat yogurt. By eating foods that give your body energy, instead of depleting it, you may find that you are more motivated to tackle your run. Also, make sure that you are properly hydrated. As little as a one to two percent loss of your body weight in water can cause you to feel tired and can negatively affect your athletic performance.  

Trick Yourself into Running

When I feel way too tired to go for my run, I sometimes tell myself that I will only run for five minutes. As soon as I am running, I find that my energy picks up and I can complete my entire run. I sometimes just need a little push to get myself out the door. It may not be a good idea to lie to myself…but it seems to work. If I still didn’t feel like running after five minutes, I could stop, but this hasn’t happened yet.

Listen to Music

Listening to your favorite music is a great way to tap into your energy reserve. By putting in your favorite playlist on the way home from work, you may find that even after a long day, you have a little more energy to get out and run. You may also like to listen to music during your run. Sometimes I download a podcast or a few new songs to my iPod to have something new to look forward to during my run.

Change it Up

If you find that you are bored with your running routine, try running your route backward or mapping out a new course. Look for a scenic trail or an area that interests you. Sometimes just a change in scenery can add a little boost to get you back on track. You may want to also change the time that you run. I used to run in the mornings but found that too many things interfered with my schedule. By switching my runs to the evenings, I am generally more consistent in sticking with my training schedule. Find a time that works best for you.

Over time, I’m hoping to be able to say that I stick to my training schedule regardless of how I feel. By implementing some of these strategies, I have certainly improved my consistency. Hopefully, some of these tips will work for you too!