10 Ways To Stay Motivated For Your 5k


Have you ever been psyched for a race, but your enthusiasm wanes as the weeks go by. Do you find yourself without motivation for the race as it approaches?

It could be that all you need is a little inspiration!

Here are 10 ways to stay motivated for your 5k when you’re having trouble sticking to your training.

1. Make a Commitment

For most races, you can register on race day. But why wait until the last minute?

Register nice and early and make a commitment to running that race. One of the best things about registering early for a race is that it’s often more affordable!

Having a goal to work towards is always a good thing. When you’ve already put money into that goal, it helps you stick to it! You can place your registration ticket somewhere where you can easily see it so that you stay motivated.

But one of the best ways to keep yourself motivated for a race in advance is, apart from signing up early, to tell people that you’re going to be running this race! Many races make this easy with social media links to post about your recent sign-up.

Once others know, you have people to be accountable to. If you slack off, it’s not just you that you’re disappointing! Share your goals with a few people you know will cheer you on and support you through the whole process.

2. Run with Purpose

If you have a cause that’s dear to you, chances are you can find a race that’s dedicated to that cause. If not, why not dedicate your own race to a cause?

People run in honor of, in memory of, or in support of various things all the time. It’s a great motivator – to make your race about someone or something other than just you.

You can also involve other people in this. Tell others why you’re running, or turn it into some sort of fundraiser.

When you’re doing it for a good, worthy reason and you have others supporting you along the way, it’s much easier to stay motivated!

3. Pick an Appropriate Training Schedule

Choose a training schedule that matches your fitness level and experience. Trying to do a training program that’s designed for athletes at a higher level of fitness will only tire you out and make you feel despondent.

On the other hand, using a training program that’s designed for less experienced runners can lead to boredom and frustration! Your training sessions should be challenging, but not hard enough that you’re getting frustrated or feeling like you can’t get through them.

The training schedule you choose or set up for yourself should also be able to fit in easily with your lifestyle. If you work 12 hours a day, you may not be able to sustain a 1-hour 5 days a week schedule.

Make sure your training schedule is appropriate for both your fitness level and your lifestyle. If you’re going to end up skipping training days because you’re too tired or too busy, you may need to rethink your schedule.

4. Track Your Runs

Keeping track of your runs is an excellent way to know how your training is progressing. If you’re training to maintain your fitness, then it’s a good way to monitor how your training is going.

If you’re working towards something, like the 5k race you have coming up, then tracking your runs is an excellent way to make progressive work towards a goal.

An app like Strava or Training Peaks can be a useful way to monitor your stats. You can link it up to your GPS watch so that every one of your runs and cross-training sessions are automatically recorded. And your data will be stored for you to look at later.

If apps are not your thing, you could invest in a running journal that you write in every day.

For some, the act of writing is a more tangible way of recording your data, and you can also take notes of anything you want, such as whether you’re not feeling well on a day or what you ate before running. Some apps may not be as comprehensive.

5. Group Effort

Training alone can become boring or uninspiring. If you’re starting to find that you aren’t enjoying your training so much anymore, you can always ask a friend to join you.

In fact, if you’re a sociable person, it may be a good idea to sign up for a 5k together right from the beginning. Then, you can train together and motivate each other throughout the process.

If nobody can run with you or it’s difficult to organize the right time to train together, you may have to train alone. But you can always join an online community where you can find an accountability partner (or many), and get encouragement and motivation from others.

The bonus of going through the process with someone else, whether a friend, family member, or online community, is that you not only get encouragement, but you can give it too!

It can be easier to push yourself to reach your goals when others are looking for your encouragement and motivation too.

6. Goal Setting

First off, you should have a goal for your 5k.

Generally, this is a time goal, to hit a new PR or at least run a good time. When you have a goal, you know exactly what you’re aiming for and you can work towards reaching it.

Once you have your goal, it’s easier to reach it when you break it down into smaller, easy-to-reach segments. Gear your training towards your goal.

You should start slowly with your training and work your way up in small sections. Don’t aim to run the entire distance every time you train. Split it into smaller segments, such as ¼ mile at a time, and work your way up.

In this way, you can work on hitting smaller goals first. Once you can comfortably break your ¼ goal, then you can go for a new ½ mile goal. When you hit that goal, you can push towards a ¾ or 1-mile goal.

This way, you can make small but consistent progress towards your bigger goal.

7. Listen to Something Different

If you don’t run to music, it could be a great way to add some pump to your training! It’s an excellent way for busy-minded runners to get a mental break.

If you already run with music, try shuffling it up a bit. Take note of what songs don’t do it for you when you hear them, and remove them from your playlist. You could spend a few minutes before every run putting together songs that you feel drawn to on the day.

If you enjoy running with music in your ears, it’s worth checking out Weav. This music app is designed to improve your performance by either matching your cadence – or playing music at the cadence you want – so you can run optimally.

8. Get Running Gear You Love

Don’t run in stuff that’s uncomfortable or that you don’t really like!

Your running gear is like your teammate on the road. Whether you choose your gear for its tech or its aesthetics, make sure that you’re wearing gear that you actually really like.

It’s a funny psychological thing, but putting on your favorite running gear can have a positive mental effect and lead to improved performance.

Why not buy yourself a new running outfit for your upcoming 5k? Just don’t leave it until race day to wear it, although this could be a good incentive. You don’t want to run in brand new gear, as there’s a risk of chafing or discomfort.

9. Reward Yourself

Using a reward system can be highly motivating. Depending on how long you’re training for, choose a regular time to reward yourself.

For example, every week or two weeks, choose something to reward yourself if you’ve stuck to your training.

This could be anything! Maybe you buy yourself a new pair of socks one week, go for a massage, or go out for your favorite meal. Choose something at the beginning of the week to work towards, and choose what reward you’ll get if you hit it. That way, you’ll have new motivation every week.

It’s incredibly important that you be disciplined with yourself, though. If you don’t hit your goal, you can’t get the reward!

10. Get Inspired

If you’re still struggling to find that motivation, why not spend a day or an evening surrounding yourself with others’ positive and inspiring stories?

There are plenty of incredibly motivating running movies and books out there that could be the inspiration you need. A simple Google search will turn up a ton of running documentaries and movies, as well as books that could inspire you.

If you aren’t into personal stories but you like learning, doing some research or reading about the mechanics of running could be enough to give you a boost. It may also give you something to work towards, such as improving your form or cadence.

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Shanna is a writer who runs... And cycles, jumps rope, and lifts weights. She lives in beautiful South Africa and enjoys sharing her knowledge and experience with other avid athletes.