Q+A: How can I get motivated after retirement?

Our experts answer real-life questions

Posted: 9 September 2000
by Bud Baldaro

Q I have an identity crisis. As a keen runner for the last 20 years, I have recently retired, but now I just cannot find the motivation to train properly. I climb into my car rather than my running gear. When I do go out for a run, any uphill stretches are just an excuse to walk. Was running just an antidote to work? Any ideas to help me find a more positive attitude would be appreciated.

A The first thing you need to remember is that we choose to run. There is no great force that says we are obliged to do it. So if you still want to run, there’s plenty you can do to get that drive back.

You now have time to really explore your running environment – something you might not have done in the past. Why not try some off-road running? This will help you discover interesting and different trails and routes. Once you’ve done that, take a break in a new environment. You’ll find that running is the most effective way to discover an unfamiliar area’s attractions.

Give yourself some time-specific goals and use age-graded tables to compare your times with younger clubmates and friends. Now that you have time on your hands perhaps you should consider entering yourself in events that you didn’t previously have time for. Why not experiment with adventure running? Or consider giving yourself a dramatic new challenge – for instance, discovering how quickly you could manage 1500m. Think about a big challenge, like a foreign marathon, that seemed improbable or impossible due to your past work commitments. And experiment with cross-training. If you give cycling and swimming a go you could progress to trying a triathlon. But above all, don’t waste precious years and then regret it later.

Bud Baldaro, coach and RW Contributing Editor

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retirement, motivation, goals, age

Discuss this article

At 30 I was able to run a 2.24 marathon and at 45 I still managed a 2.56 on a light training schedule - three years later I find it so difficult to "jog" for much more than half an hour or to sustain running for more than a few days in a row. I have had several attempts to kickstart my training, I live on the edge of the South Downs and walk my dogs there and cannot believe that I used to run further than I can see - I long to get back to coping with and enjoying those long runs. Any hints on how to get going again? I know all of the theory but cannot apply it to myself.
Posted: 23/10/2003 at 22:34

im a fat plodder

So you can ignore me

but why dont you just set a simple goal

no pressure

No times
Do 30 miutes
3 times a week
and a bit loger at weekends

the south Downs is beutiful

Just enjoy the running for its own sake
Posted: 23/10/2003 at 22:36

It's great being a big old plodder - no pressure, camaraderie at the back in the races and every gasp an achievement.

My best runs (which, granted, will be strolls to many folks) have been the ones where I've thought 'bu**er it, I'll just give it a go'.

I think there's a lot to be said for run/walking (as you will see elsewhere on this forum) - especially if it keeps you out for longer somewhere nice to be.

It's autumn, it's bonny, you won't get so hot and sweaty

Posted: 23/10/2003 at 22:59


Have you considered setting yourself a challenge. ie "I want to get fit for...". Something reasonably far into the future so that you don't put too much pressure on yourself, but then again not so far away as to make you lazy.

I'd say that getting into a routine is important as well. Even though I have a fairly unstructured working pattern I have days and times that are set aside for training. The rest of my family understand that this is "My time" and they try not to encroach too much.

Posted: 24/10/2003 at 08:56

It goes like that, and I found that by training every other day I can now run regularly.Trying to churn out the miles day after day is no longer possible, our "older" bodies need more time to recouperate. Don't be dispondent.....we all know that a sub-three hour marathon is a very good run! With care you can get back to it. I did. Because I wanted to!!
Posted: 03/08/2004 at 20:56

I just started back running after a long lay off of a year. Became a couch potato. What got me going again was thinking about how I used to enjoy my running and miss not doing it any more. Think of all the positives that running gave you.
Posted: 03/08/2004 at 21:16

After years of competitive runnng I
discovered I had Parkinson's Disease. My times were going downhill rapidly and I stopped running competitively and
eventually stopped altogether. I got
round my frustration partially by getting
involved in my clubs various activities
such as support at races . If there was a
job to be done I would make myself
available. BUT! I still get itchy feet and
I am determined to do at least one more
marathon and I am currently working on
a suitable training programme to
overcome the effects of Parkinsons.
It won't be easy but I am very determined
and will give it a go
Posted: 20/10/2005 at 09:24

Gosh Eddie, that really puts my "might not run tonight because I've got a little ankle niggle" right into perspective!

I wish you all the very best in your marathon training. With determination like that, I'm sure you'll succeed.
Posted: 20/10/2005 at 09:41

what you should do is start from scratch again runnng should not become a chore remember your new aim is to complete rather than compete and always remember to reward yourselve.one finale though most of us on this site have one thing in common we are AMETURES jog on
Posted: 20/10/2005 at 21:55

what happened to hoim i wonder
Posted: 20/10/2005 at 23:06

Still jogging - I have joined the local sailing club and get my 'racing fix' in dinghy racing - I get my 'endurance fix' by going for long sailing expeditions - I have been able to share this with my son and wife. - I built up my running back up to 90 minutes - I still need to lose some of the 2 stone over racing weight - I may be back for a race some day.
Posted: 21/10/2005 at 19:23

I am now hopeful of running another
marathon since i recently ran 2 races
at club la santa lanzarote both around 62/63 mins. It has given me incentive to
train during the long winter. My stamina
training will be more important than speed. I will let you know how I get on.
Posted: 12/12/2005 at 22:26

Well done Eddie - I look forward to your future post to see how you are getting on. Merry Xmas, Terry.
Posted: 12/12/2005 at 22:41

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