20 reasons runners lost their motivation - and how they refound it

‘I had 10 days off over Christmas – I was planning on two! I just couldn’t find the energy, but I pulled myself together and decided on January 1 to just run. It was only 5km and lashing with rain but it broke the excuses and my mojo is now back. It’s just getting out the door – give it 10 minutes and tell yourself that if you’re not feeling the love you’ll stop… bet you won’t, though!’ Karen Stanley

‘When it’s cold outside and you’ve had a miserable day it’s so easy to come in and drink a pot of tea and eat a cake. Before I knew it a month  had passed with the same excuses and I was getting out of breath in the park with the dog and the kids. So one morning I set my alarm earlier, having laid out my kit the evening before. I got up and just did one mile. Wow, did I feel great that day! I decided to do three short, early runs a week and as time went by home life improved and I felt healthier and happier just for getting out there.’ Michael Bowen

‘After a cancelled marathon I was mentally ready for a rest period and I was so disheartened at not being able to race after all the training that I could no longer find the motivation to get out early on a Saturday morning. My solution was to start running with someone else. I didn’t want to let this person down by cancelling and found it was a welcome change to logging solo miles. After a few weeks I started feeling motivated to go out again on my own, running at a faster pace than I had before.’ Katherine Kendall, RW brand director

‘Non-race months are my problem. I struggle unless I have a race to train for, so I decided to train my dog for Canicross events. This way I can combine his walks with running every day. I have no excuses – he needs to get out!’ Karen Hibbitt

‘A few years ago, when I was chasing a sub-three marathon PB, there was an eight-month period in which pretty much every run was a training run – by which I mean every run had a specific goal (e.g. long-run distance, speedwork reps etc). I kind of fell out of love with running as a result, as it became a pretty joyless grind. After the marathon, for a couple of months I made a point of running when I felt like it and with no specific focus, and during the runs just enjoyed the sights and sounds of being out in the open.’ Andy Dixon, RW editor

‘Suffering with anxiety can really affect my running. At times anxiety can leave you feeling demotivated, overwhelmed and not knowing where to turn. Finally understanding that even a small run can make the biggest difference to my mental health really changed things for me.’ Helen Woods

‘After moving to a new area I didn’t have the confidence to go out and explore, for fear of getting lost. This, coupled with the fact it was a hilly area and I wasn’t keen on or very good at hill training, meant that I didn’t run for about six months. I really missed it, so eventually I found a local club who took me under their wing. Soon I had a PB at the local half marathon and became a regular at the local Parkrun.’ Jane Shackleton, RW head of marketing and events

My competitive attitude killed me with constant use of Strava etc. I got my running mojo back after reading about the ‘hygge’ way of life. It’s a Danish concept about doing what feels good, not competing, not being bothered about anything other than getting outdoors. I even stopped while out running the other day just to take a photo of the view. I felt free, liberated by lack of measurement. Wonderful.’ Isabelle Szczeccinski

‘Fear of failure was my problem. I got over it by telling myself that the only person judging me is me. No one else cares, they’ve got their own worries to deal with.’ Layton Paul Jones

‘After two years in a constant cycle of training for spring, then autumn, marathons I just ran out of desire. I understood what I had to do to get faster – possibly a little too well – and felt confident I could do it, but where in the past that mix would have been like paraffin for my motivational fire I was, for the first time, simply out of the mental energy to take it on. I took a break, did more cycling, enjoyed Sunday afternoons with my family, then focused on a running goal that was about as far from the marathon as I could manage: running a fast mile. The shift of focus restored my mojo and the following year I felt ready – itching, in fact – to return to marathon training. Mentally refreshed, I had my best and most enjoyable training cycle – and I ran that PB.’ Joe Mackie, RW Deputy Editor

‘A seemingly unsolvable injury that dragged on for months threatened to destroy my motivation for good. Each expert I saw reassured me they would have me back running in no time, but to no avail. Coaching kept me going. Being able to impart knowledge, experience and enthusiasm to others made me feel I still had a purpose in the running world, and I gained a lot of enjoyment and pride from seeing others succeed. If you’re not a coach, stay involved in other ways, such as volunteering at events or going along to races to support friends. But don’t force it: if you’re really miserable about not running, forcing yourself to go and, say, provide tea after a training run (when everyone returns full of running joy) can leave you feeling even more wretched. I speak from experience. By the time I was able to run again my whole outlook on running had changed. I still enjoy racing, but it’s now much more about feeling good, enjoying each run for its own merits and being part of the running community.’ Sam Murphy, RW section editor and running coach

Pregnancy and postnatal depression stopped my running for nearly a year. I got my mojo back by rereading Chris McDougall’s Born to Run and starting back slowly with no goals, just me and the road.’ Laura Curtis

‘Getting injured two weeks before a marathon messed with my motivation because I felt that all the training had achieved nothing. The only way I got back to it was to enter another race, to give me that goal again. I’ve had a few mental hiccups along the way (“What if you get injured again?”), but I always get out of bed if a goal is there.’ Roger Bilsland, RW production manager and RW VMLM pacer

‘Sometimes I fall out of love with running for a spell. When you spend 40+ hours a week thinking about, talking about, writing about and, of course, doing it, that’s inevitable. In 2013 I had a severe bout of antirunningitis. Injuries and a series of failures to crack a four-hour marathon had bred resentment and I started to see running as a chore. And if I couldn’t improve, what was the point?

My solution was a new regime that challenged body and mind. I put myself in the hands of two CrossFit coaches, who made a valid point about [supposedly] Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity (doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different outcome). I trained for the Berlin Marathon by replacing all my runs with strength and conditioning work; and I found doing something new and so out of my comfort zone stimulated my curiosity and competitive instinct. The weight dropped off, niggles abated, my mojo returned and I went sub-four in Berlin with a whopping 17-minute PB.' Kerry McCarthy, RW commissioning editor

‘Training through the bad weather of the winter – especially after Christmas in the run-up to London Marathon – is tough. I persuaded friends to run with me; that way you can’t back out of your committed training slot. I also joined some Nike group runs and did some group classes, including spin sessions (indoor) to vary the training. Group training is easier than solo training in the dark winter months!’ Jer O’Mahony, RW VMLM pacer

‘My biggest motivation block? Me! I keep telling myself I can’t, then I get stressed. Running with friends and talking about it helps. I also now set three targets for myself before I run. Number one is to finish the run – doesn’t matter how long, provided it’s under my own steam. Number two is a minimum mileage that’s acceptable to me. And number three is a dream mileage that would be a boost, or represent meeting a challenge.’ Colette Croft

‘After a good 2015-16 training with no major injuries I was sure I would – third time lucky – break the sub-four barrier. I woke up on marathon day with the flu and finished in 4:30. I was gutted and lost my mojo for a couple of months. I decided to give running a rest for a while and re-evaluate my goals, which helped me to recover, then kick on to this year’s training for sub-four attempt number four [at the London Marathon].’ AL Rourke

‘I lost my desire to run when I was in the depths of anorexia. Running became a chore and the illness snatched my passion for something that had offered freedom. Now I am progressing in my recovery and finally have the energy to run and ultimately feel the mental benefits.’ Alison MacVicar

‘After pelvic issues in pregnancy and a caesarean section, my running performance was ruined. How much harder it was to run and how much slower I was really got me down. But once I realised that I could work on setting new, post-baby PBs things got much better. Suddenly I had some achievable targets to aim for and now I am finally getting back up to (pre-baby) speed after nearly three years. All I had to do was adjust my expectations.’ Elizabeth Dix

‘A few years ago I had an injury I couldn’t shake. I rested, I did the exercises, I went to a physio, I got orthotic inserts – nothing worked. Two months passed, then three…four…

But I never gave in, not because I love running, but because I want to remain in good condition for as long as possible. I’m in my late 40s and I see people my age who sweat while they walk – I don’t want that. I see old people making their way painfully down the street – I don’t want that, either. I see the frailty of my parents, who worked so hard, and had no time to think about core work or glute strength, or the right balance of carbs, protein and fats. I worry for them and I don’t want to be so physically uncertain when I’m their age. Nor do I want to be a burden to others. So my motivation is as basic as it gets. I can’t outrun old age, but when the Grim Reaper finally beckons me with his bony finger I want to be able to bound up to him and say, ‘What is it? Oh, right. That.’

My injury cleared up after nine months and I’m still running. In the end I will be caught, of course, but that’s not the point, is it?’ John Carroll, RW chief sub editor