A 5K is a fun and manageable race for all levels of runners. But it still requires proper training if you want to feel great when you cross the finish line. And despite your best intentions, it’s easy to lose focus and motivation when training for a short race!
To help, we’ve got some tips to stay inspired for your upcoming race. Here’s how to stay motivated when training for a 5K.
Try some of these tips and you should be able to push through those tough days and come out stronger!
Staying motivated is one thing. Finding the motivation in the first place is another! Here are some of our tried-and-true ways to kick-start your training program.
Break Up Your Training
Dreading doing yet another run? Break things up by adding cross-training to your training plan.
While you’ll most likely have set mileage you need to reach for your training, breaking things up can add a bit of spice and keep you on the motivation train.
You can also vary your training by changing the times you train. Go for a run before the sun rises today. Tomorrow, lift some weights in the morning and take your run in the evening.
Breaking it up in this way can stop boredom from setting in!
Celebrate Small Victories
Don’t sell yourself short on your victories. If you take a few seconds off your time in today’s run, celebrate it! If you manage to add another half a mile to your distance when you didn’t think you could, celebrate it.
You don’t need to go wild. But be proud of yourself—you’re a step closer to running an incredible 5K!
Reward Yourself for Achieving Milestones
Reward yourself when you reach milestones in your training. You can do this by posting something on social media (which also keeps you accountable), having a small but healthy treat, or doing something you’ve been wanting to do, like catch up on the latest episode of your favorite show!
Make Your Runs Fun
Running doesn’t have to be boring. Stock up on playlists filled with upbeat music, podcasts that inspire you, or running apps that gamify the experience. Music can be a huge motivator, and surprisingly, it can help you run faster!
There are even specific apps designed to make running fun and keep you going longer. Find what works for you and use it! Don’t be afraid to change things up either.
Plan Your Runs Ahead of Time
Having a proper plan for your run is key to staying motivated. Know your route, know your goal—distance or time—and know what you’re wearing and carrying. Plan your nutrition on the run too.
Trust us—demotivation comes quicker when you aren’t sure where you’re going or what you’re aiming for in your workout! Good planning equals better runs… Which equals more motivation!
Connect With Other Runners
Nobody understands training demotivation like another runner! Connect with runners aiming for the same goal as you. You can share victories, setbacks, and worries with each other, which helps you to realize that your feelings are all completely normal!
You can also connect with more experienced runners who may be able to give you good advice—based on their own experience—on training and running races.
Dealing With Setbacks and Obstacles
Expect setbacks. Going into your training thinking you won’t ever hit a bump is unrealistic!
The key is to have a plan. What will you do if the weather turns? Perhaps decide on an indoor activity, choose to run in the rain, or find an indoor track near you.
Prepare for injuries too. We advise putting together a first aid kit to keep in your car and possibly even a smaller kit to carry with you in a running belt. Don’t let them derail you if they happen—but have a recovery plan as well.
How to Stay Motivated
Once you’ve got some motivation behind you, staying motivated is the next key. Here’s what we suggest to keep the motivation up.
Set Measurable Goals
Having goals is great, but they need to be measurable. Being able to measure your goals means it’s easier to see the progress you’re making, which can be highly motivating.
If you’re following a training plan for your 5K training, it’s probably already set out in smaller, more manageable chunks designed to build up as you go.
If you aren’t following a plan, the best way to ensure consistent progress is to aim to increase by 5 to 10 percent every week. For example, if you’re running 5 miles in total this week, aim for 5 ¼ to 5 ½ miles next week.
Don’t just go out there with the aim of “running further” or “running for longer.” Set something you can measure, which leads to our next point…
Having measurable goals is pointless if you aren’t tracking your progress! Some good ways to track and measure your goals include using a running journal, a training log, or an app.
Some apps, like Strava, allow you to track your progress in quite a bit of detail. Many apps allow you to compare previous stats to current stats, so you can see how much you’ve improved. This can be very motivating, and can also help you set more realistic goals as you go.
Create an Exercise Plan With Friends or Family
Going it alone can work for many people. But training with others can be extremely motivating—not only because you’ve got cheerleaders, but also because it gives you some accountability.
Get your family and friends involved! If you’re all in it together, you’re much more likely to train hard, make the effort, and progress, because you’ve got other people involved.
By training hard and hitting your goals, you’re inspiring the others who are exercising with you. In the same vein, you’re going to be inspiring them, which can be motivating to you!
The last reason this is an amazing way to stay motivated is that it keeps you accountable. You can’t just stay in bed when you aren’t in the mood to run… Because you’ve got someone waiting for you.
You can’t just cut those corners and skip the last ½-mile of your run when someone else is with you! If motivation is hard to come by, consider training with someone else.