We have all been there at some time in our lives. We have the best intentions to run or workout or diet, or whatever it is you want to do, but suddenly (or gradually) we are losing the motivation to do so. We try giving ourselves a pep talk, but it just isn’t working. We come up with lots of excuses why we can’t go for a run- I’m exhausted from the kids, I had a bad night’s sleep, I’m sore from yesterday’s run, I’ve got a cough, work was so tough today, it’s too hot, it’s too cold…. And the list of endless excuses goes on.

So, what do we do to get our mojo back, to get ourselves out the door and make something happen?

While there are lots of strategies and tricks to help motivate you to run, the biggest factor I find that helps runners is accountability, accountability to yourself and accountability to others. Accountability can make the difference between hitting the snooze button on your alarm and rolling out of bed and lacing up your sneakers on a cold, rainy morning. Accountability will help get you running when you’ve already had an exhausting day at work but still have a 7 mile run on your schedule.

Read on for how to use accountability to help you shed the excuses and be more motivated, running more consistently and with better results!

1. Determine your running goals and write them down. As with any goal, be specific.

Sounds simple but it’s not. What is your goal for running? What do you want to accomplish? Do you want to get healthier? If so, what does that mean? Lower your blood pressure, lower your sugar levels, lose weight or something else- If so, how much and by when- be specific and realistic. Is your goal measurable and trackable? It should be. For example, “I want to lose weight this year” is not ideal. Better would be, “I will lose 15 pounds by my birthday, March 14, 2020.” Write it down, put it on the refrigerator, share it with your friends, create a chart and keep track of your progress. Hold yourself accountable by having a clearly defined goal to help you stay focused and get you out the door. When you don’t feel like going for a run, reread your goal out loud and remind yourself why you are running.

2. Set a schedule for your running. 

Make a weekly or monthly calendar of the days and times you will run that week/month. This will help free up time and prevent other activities from getting in the way of your run. In the beginning just having a “running appointment” on your calendar will make a big difference. Then as you advance add more specifics to your running appointment- what distance, where, pace, etc. The more you define for yourself exactly what you plan to accomplish, the more likely it will happen. Note: be flexible. Things do come up that change your plans a day here or there. But don’t let that be the norm or become a habit. The norm needs to be you have an appointment with yourself and you need to honor that appointment. Only in rare instances do you deviate from your running schedule.

3. Be accountable to others.

This can be accomplished in many ways, but number 1 is to share with a core group of friends that you want to run and your overall goals for running. You can even share your weekly or monthly “running calendar” with them. Not only will you feel accountable to them because they know your goals and running schedule but ask them to hold you accountable and talk to you about your goals. Ask them to check in from time to time on how today’s run went and how you are tracking toward your overall goal. If others know your goals and schedule and ask you how it is going, you will find yourself running so you have a good answer when they ask.

4. Get a running partner or two and schedule specific days and times when you will be running.

I tend to be a solo runner, preferring the alone time. But whenever I have a scheduled run with someone else, I know for sure I will be there to keep that appointment. And don’t be afraid to pick up the phone or text a running partner at the last minute when you just don’t feel like going for a run you had planned to complete solo. Most will be happy to join you if they can, or at least give you encouragement to go out and get the run in on your own. Bonus – a running partner can help the miles fly by too. Having a conversation with your partner can distract you from and make the time fly by. If you don’t find running as boring, you will be more motivated to get out and run.

5. Join a running club.

Like a running partner, find a local running club that gets together once or twice a week for group runs. Not only will you make friends but knowing there’s a group that’s expecting you will help motivate you to attend the scheduled runs. In addition, a running club will lift you up and encourage you during those times you are discouraged or don’t feel as motivated to run.

6. Get a running coach.

Some get a coach when they first start running to help develop a plan. This is ideal as they will help you establish a smart plan that is attainable. One of the biggest problems new runners face is trying to do too much too soon. Similarly, many experienced runners who have taken significant time off (for personal reasons or due to injury) try to jump back in where they last were. A coach can help you avoid those pitfalls. Our bodies need time to adjust and adapt to the new challenges of running or returning to our prior form and conditioning. A coach will set out a proper strategy to build mileage gradually giving your body time to adapt. Too often when you don’t you get injured and discouraged. In addition, a coach, like a running partner or running club will hold you accountable. And having their written plan for you is another form of a running appointment- it will help get you out the door.

7. Get an accountability coach.

A what? Yes, there are professional accountability coaches that can help you plan and organize your life to accomplish your goals. They check in with you daily, ask you the questions your friends and relatives sometimes don’t want to, help you identify and overcome excuses, and help you stay on track with your goals and schedules. If running consistently is something you struggle to obtain, perhaps it’s time to consider getting yourself a professional accountability coach.

Willpower, determination, drive and grit are all great but don’t always work when it comes to staying motivated to run on a consistent basis. But if you hold yourself accountable to written goals and schedules, and you have others holding you accountable and encouraging you to complete those goals and schedules, your probability of success will greatly increase. The likelihood you give in to excuses will diminish and you will find yourself more motivated, running more consistently and with better results!

See you on the trails!

By: David Willard