Mental Games: How to Stay Motivated to Run and Train
Running & Fitness Running & Fitness Tips

Mental Games: How to Stay Motivated to Run and Train

Need some advice on how to power through those long runs and challenging races? In a recent episode of Jammin’ On The Run over at our YouTube Channel, we chatted about our favorite tricks and mental games to get us out the door, through difficult runs, and over finish lines. 

Mental Games: How to Stay Motivated to Run and Train

For the full version, watch the video. I’ve also written the major highlights below!

Feeling unmotivated to #run or train? Here some tips and mental games for #running motivation. #werunsocial #runchat Share on X

Mental Calculations

My favorite trick for getting through a long run is to divide the mileage by two and then add one. So for a twenty mile run, my magic number is eleven. Instead of focusing on the entire amount, I concentrate on getting to mile eleven because by then, I’ll be over the halfway mark and every mile then completed is much closer to my goal. Sounds weird, but for me, it works!

Megan takes this a step further but breaking her total run down into manageable chunks, making the miles seem less daunting and more doable. Doable is always good!

For Rob, once he gets past three mile he’s good. By then, he’s in the zone, in the rhythm, and knows he can make it to the end.

Go halfway out

Another tip is to follow a route that takes you halfway away from your home, leaving you no choice but to finish if you want to return … without having to make the dreaded call of shame for a pick-up. Of the four of us, I am the only one who made to make that call to my husband. Bathroom emergency. What can I say?

Get up early

We can all agree that it’s so much nicer to get your run out of the way early in the morning, rather than feeling guilty and pressured all day with “Ugh, I still need to run,” on the back of your mind. For me, this is a struggle. I’m actually writing this post on a Saturday at 3:35pm. My husband will be home soon with a pizza and the desire to watch a movie … but I haven’t worked out yet. Sigh.

So if you struggle with this … you’re not alone. Let’s both work on that one together, okay?

Be prepared

Make sure you have enough water, Gatorade, or whatever nutrition you’ll need at the start of your long run. Otherwise, you will stress about not being prepared and tempted to cut your training short. Carrying a credit card or cash will also help, so you can purchase more hydration.


You don’t have to wait until afterwards to get a reward for your hard work. Jackey likes to give herself mini rewards for each mile completed by eating one Sport Bean, making it something she looks forward to!

Rob and I also found a way to take our minds off the miles during the WDW Full Marathon by sharing things about ourselves at each mile marker. Stuff like what our favorite movie is, favorite book, favorite TV show.

Find a Running Partner

One that will motivate you … or better yet, nag you into getting out there for a run!

Rely on a familiar route

There is something comforting about using a familiar route, one that you have memorized distances and know exactly how far you have to go or how many loops to do in order to complete your miles.

On the flip side…

Try a new route!

Shake things up by trying a new trail or running path that offers a fresh perspective and new views. I once tried a new path that goes through several local developments … only to find myself getting hopelessly lost. Finding my way back made the miles fly by, though!

Listen to podcasts and inspiring music

While we all love music, listening to a podcast is a fantastic way to take our minds off of our pounding feet. Some of Rob’s favorites are Disney related ones such as WDW Today and he also has hours of Disney World park music on his phone because it puts him in a joyous mood and makes him excited for upcoming runDisney runs.

Jackey loves the Perez Hilton Podcast for the breezy, frivolous entertainment!

I’ve already listed several of my favorite podcast for running here, such as Michael Hyatt. Another great tips for movie buffs is to listen to heart pounding, epic soundtracks from ones like Gladiator and Pirates of the Caribbean. Broadway cast records are also great for adding some step-ball-change-step in your run! Here’s my favorite Broadway Songs to run to.


I visualize a lot about the race I’m training for and how I want to feel on that day. Do I want to feel prepared and confident or stressed and guilty? And what about the finish line, do I want to feel accomplished while crossing it, throwing my hands up in the air with a gigantic smile or do I want to feel exhausted and spend, with no energy to do a celebratory jump shot?

I want to feel fantastic. So I train.

Reward meals are awesome

‘Nuff said.

Pay for a Race

This is especially effective for me since I’m a bit frugal. (Well, not counting the many runDisney races I sign up for.) But the sheer act of pulling out my credit card and paying for a race is a huge motivator to train, because otherwise, I’d be wasting money. This is why Rob is signing up for as many races this year as possible!

The fear of being swept due to under-training is also enough to get Jackey’s running shoes on. For Rob, the memory of a bad race due to under-training for a race last year is just as motivating.

Be realistic

If your goals aren’t realistic for where your at, or if they’re too broad and long-reaching, like dropping two minutes off your mile, then you are at risk of setting yourself up for failure when progress is slow. Same for if you set an unrealistic personal record goal for a race, one that you aren’t conditioned for. So be sure to set goals that are realistic and doable – while still challenging!

Remember your reasons for running

Why do you love running? What first made you decide to be a runner? Because of the challenge? Camaraderie with friends? Another excuse to go to Disney World? Whenever you are feeling lethargic and unmotivated to get out the door, think about those reasons.

Which brings me to a big one.

Run because YOU CAN!

If you have ever been injured, remember how upsetting and frustrating it was, having something you love being taken away. If you are injured now, think about how miserable being sidelined is and how desperate you are to run. Then later on after you’re healed and feeling lazy … remember those feelings of frustrating and envy and jealousy of other runners and desperation and how crappy it felt to not run.

Then go run. Because YOU CAN!

QOTD: What mental games or things do you do to keep you motivated? Please share them in the comments below. We’re always looking for more tips!

There’s also a lot more chatter on how to stay motivated to run in our Jammin’ On The Run episode so be sure to check it out. And subscribe for more video updates! Until then, happy running and have a joyful day!

Laura Bowers

Laura is a writer, runner, reader, runDisney addict, blogger, vlogger, wife to an amazing guy for 26 years, mom of two wonderful boys, excellent chili maker, and obsessive list keeper. She still thinks Spice World was an awesome movie and feels no shame about that plus she can quote most lines from Talladega Nights. Shake and bake!

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