Marathon Motivation: How To Run When You Don’t Want To

Are you having an issue with marathon motivation? This is a common issue all runners training for the 26.2 mile distance have dealt with. We all go through slumps in training. What you absolutely must stay focused on is your long-term goals.

marathon motivation

What is your why? Why are you preparing for the marathon? Is it to break the sub 3 hour marathon barrier? Are you focused on running under the 4 hour marathon? Perhaps you are a 5 hour marathoner seeking to drop a few more minutes.

The marathon demands a lot out of athlete so how does one maintain high marathon motivation? One of the best ways to overcome staleness is simply not to think too long. We can easily talk ourselves out of not going out for a run.

Look at anyone successful in anything they do. What is their common characteristic? Often times, it is they don’t lose enthusiasm whether they fail or succeed. They love what they are doing, have something that is keeping them motivated no matter what.

The trick is finding pleasure in what most people consider pain. This is how I dropped my half marathon from 1:10:29 to 1:07:06 and marathon from 2:43:36 to 2:19:35. Did my marathon motivation ever run low? You better believe it did. That being said, the end goal was so white hot I couldn’t let up and to this day have not done so.

Simple Tips To Keep Marathon Motivation High

  1. Focus On Your WHY

What is your purpose behind the running the marathon? Obviously, you didn’t get started in your marathon training schedule only to let up. You have a goal in mind. What is the WHY behind that goal?

Are you focused on losing weight? Do you have a specific time goal in mind? Have you always wanted to run a marathon but something has kept you back from acting on that goal? We all have marathon motivation early on. The trick is maintaining enthusiasm when you don’t feel like running.

2. Write down your goals

Thinking about what you want to do is one thing, writing down what you want to do is another. This is a great marathon motivation tip I have used over the years. Write down your goal and carry it with you. You can carry it in your purse or wallet, pull it out and look at it.

Hang your goals up at work or at your home. Create a vision board. Perhaps you coming across the finish line with a 2:59:59 marathon time or crossing the finish with a loved one. Maybe it is running for a charity and completed it with a group you are a part of.

Why Writing Down Goals Is Important

People that write down goals or notes during a presentation remember far more and get better results than those who do not. It is not common which is what I love about it. Most people simply don’t write their goals down. You can look out at a crowd during a presentation and see more people listening than writing down notes and listening.

Writing down your goals simply is a means to help hold yourself accountable to what you want to do. You don’t have control of the weather but you do have control over how you handle it and your self-talk.

This is another mini-tip. Turn off the television set and read a book instead. Fill your mind with positivity rather than a media talking head. The average American is watching 5 to 6 hours of television per day. Do the opposite.

I observed the masses and I did the opposite – Holton Buggs, entrepreneur

The Power Of The Mind

3. Visualize Success

The great Billy Mills, the last American male to win the 10,000m event at the Olympic Games said it best,

The subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between reality or imagination

Your mind doesn’t know the difference whether you are currently a 2:40 marathoner or a 5 hour marathoner. For example, while I was still “only” a 2:43:36 marathoner I visualized myself running under the sub-2:22:00 marathon barrier.

The mental training aspect is a success component to maintain high marathon motivation. Let’s face it, we all are going to have days where we don’t want to go out for that second run. That being said, visualizing what you want does create your reality. Nothing will be created if the work isn’t put in regardless how much visualization we do.

It is still one way of keeping your marathon motivation high when it can so easily run slim at times. You have to envision seeing what you want to do in your mind as if it has already taken place in real life.

I am proof this works. It took me from 2002 to 2007 to break the 2:20 marathon barrier. I failed numerous times in my quest to break 2:22:00 but always believed I would do it and finally did. There wasn’t a day that went by during that time that I didn’t visualize seeing myself crossing the finish line of a marathon in a time faster than 2:21:59.

marathon training motivation

How Do You Keep Marathon Motivation High In Bad Weather?

Your goals are going to propel you forward regardless what type of weather is outside your door. People that want to succeed are going to do what is necessary. The others will sit back and make excuses, respectfully.

There simply is no way around this. You are going to have bad weather. I am in South Bend, Indiana. It gets cold here and the snow can be brutal. That being said, I grew up in Ohio and have trained in every weather condition imaginable in the past 27 years.

There is a massive difference between interest versus commitment. Which one are you? How badly do you want to compete well this year? I am a huge fan of North Face running gear. They have world-class cold weather and rain gear for cold-weather runs and for days where it is raining and you need some additional armor.

4. Hold Yourself Accountable

You are committed to running the marathon. If you were interested you would have never made the move to start preparing for the race. Don’t let up and give up on yourself now. You have already come too far to do that.

If you feel like your marathon motivation is not where it once was. Do this.

Take A Trip Back To Memory Lane

5. Think Back To When You Ran Your Best

What were you doing during that time? How did your body feel? How were the workouts going when you were running at your highest level? These are methods to ensure your marathon motivation remains high and consistent.

You may not want to get up early in the morning before work to run. I believe everyone, at some time or another, has felt this way. That being said, once you are up and that run is done you have the rest of the day to enjoy.

6. Stay Focused

You have to remain white hot focused on what you want to do in this event. As we stated earlier in this post, write down your goals. In addition to that, hang them up so you can see them.

Remind yourself of the reasons you are preparing and don’t let go.

A Strong Support Structure Will Keep Marathon Motivation High

7. Find a Running Group

This is one of the best things you can do as others will hold you accountable. Running with a group can help you get through those early morning runs. It is also helpful to talk to other runners about your frustration. It can help you cope with struggles you may be dealing with that are outside of running.

8. Focus On What You Can Control

All you can do is your best. The training should always be the hardest part of the preparation, not the race. Lisa Rainsberger, 1985 Boston Marathon champion, taught me this lesson. We worked together from 2007 to 2010.

She would always say during my solo workouts training to break the sub-2:20 marathon barrier,

Nate, it’s just work

It doesn’t get much simpler than that but it is the truth. Get out the door and put in the work. It is only for a few minutes or at most a couple hours of your day. Make the most of it.

Stay Strong And Commit No Matter What

9. Be Willing to Adapt

You are not always going to have training partners. This is where you really have to zero in on what it is you have envisioned for yourself. There is no easy path to running or racing a marathon.

It will take work but you will survive the training. I didn’t have training partners when I arrived to the US Army World Class Athlete Program in 2007. I was the only marathoner in the program outside of Olympian Dan Browne. Dan lived and trained in Portland, Oregon and I was training and living in Colorado Springs.

I had to make due with what I had and that was a great mentor and coach along with my work ethic. Talent was something I never had a lot of but I was willing to work hard. Talent that doesn’t work will most often times lose out to someone with little to none of it that does.

10. Hire A Sport Consultant

An athlete consultant is often times and expert in his or her craft. A professional sport consultant has been where you are at. They have also competed at a very high level, knows what does and does not work. Additionally, they can speed up your results.

People all over the world hire sport consultants to help them get over a pain point in their training. I have hired sport consultants over the years myself. It is an investment in your personal development. Always remember that.

Invest In A New Marathon Training Plan

Your return on investment in purchasing a new marathon training schedule can be huge. Here at RunDreamAchieve there are a wide variety of marathon training plans available. They are built to help runners not only finish a marathon but complete it in record time.

The marathon training schedules I created here have the exact same workouts I used. The training tips you’ll be following are what helped me improve from 2:43:36 to 2:19:35. They also contain training fundamentals the top coaches and athletes in the world utilize.

11. A New Marathon Training Plan Can Keep Marathon Motivation Sky High


It can revive your confidence knowing you are following a plan that works. Also, it takes the guesswork out of your marathon buildup. One of the biggest hurdles runners face is not knowing what workouts to do. Additionally, wondering if what they are doing is actually the correct form of training.

A well-planned marathon training plan keep your mind focused on what needs to be. It also free up mental concern over being unsure what to do each day.

Invest In A Runner Course

12. Invest In Your Self-Development

Lastly, we have another resource here at RunDreamAchieve. The RunDreamAchieve Academy is a learning center for beginner to elite-level athletes. If you want to overcome low levels of marathon motivation perhaps investing in one of our courses is the solution.

A runner course can pay huge dividends and provide an enormous return on investment. I have paid for numerous personal development courses both professionally and as an athlete. It is a part of seeking out improvement and learning from professionals who know what they are doing.

I am highly confident in the services and products that I create here at RunDreamAchieve. I’ve been competing for over 27 years and have relied on the fundamentals I have followed for nearly 3 decades.

It is also my duty and obligation to ensure visitors of this site succeed. Marathon motivation is something that can be high one day and very low the next. The key is surround yourself with the positive environment to set yourself up for success.

Be sure to leave a comment below if you have any questions regarding a pain point you are dealing with. You can also subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube Channel. Lastly, are also welcome to sign up for our newsletter below.

I hope these resources and tips will help you to maintain high levels of marathon motivation. No one can do the work for you but it sure helps to have a support system in place to keep you held accountable. Below is a video I created over this post. Hope you enjoy it.

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