One Way for Runners to Stay Motivated

Stay driven to reach your goals

There are many ways to stay motivated as a runner, but I’m only going to talk about one way, and I’m going to talk about it from a professional mental health counselor perspective. This short article isn’t a therapy service, but it is a tip. I explain this tip in a similar manner to the people I work with, this is just the runner’s version. It is simple, effective, try it out, give it time.

Here is the short explanation

Find and embrace your “whys” to your goal and create meaning around it. Backing this up is an important step, and to do so, journal and or use sticky notes or index cards. Write about what your goals mean to you in your journal or on the cards. You can place the cards on your refrigerator or near your treadmill, so that you are frequently reminded. A few sentences will work. Aim for 3 to 5 sentences. Meditate and reflect on these things on a regular basis. If this tip peaks your interest, keep reading for more details.

Background information on having meaning in life

Viktor Frankl, psychiatrist and neurologist, was the founder of Logotherapy in the 1900’s. Logotherapy is about finding healing through meaning. He survived being a prisoner in the Holocaust and wrote the book, Man’s Search for Meaning, which is about his observations on how people survived in the concentration camps. People who clung to “meaning” and their “whys” faired better than those who did not. There’s more…

Happiness can be found through meaning, which is another piece that Viktor Frankl emphasized. What makes you happy? Happiness comes from the moments that mean something to us, it’s not within the object itself! People who survived the Holocaust wanted to see family and friends again, they wanted to go back to doing their work or passion, and they wanted to live a full life! All of these things were very meaningful. Viktor Frankl lived a full life. He achieved his goals, which were to pass on his research to thousands of people and help them live with meaning. Are you ready to stay motivated?

What to do (journaling, sticky notes, and index cards)


Runners, dig for your whys and meaning behind your goals. Meditate and reflect on your reasons through journaling about them. Write 3 to 5 sentences on your why in your journal, and then read them over a few times. Aim to practice this habit 3 days per week. Consistent enough to make it stick to your mind. Consistency is important, just as it is to running. Neuroplasticity is at work in the brain. Read what you wrote out loud because hearing our own voice increases awareness in our minds, strengthening motivation.

Sticky notes and index cards

Grab some sticky notes or index cards and write your goals and whys on them. Place them where you can see it frequently, like on a mirror, desk, refrigerator, or near your treadmill. Remind yourself of your whys.

Your goals are amazing, you’re dreaming big. If your goals are long-term, how do you keep up this momentum?

Big goals and motivation

Be mindful that some goals are long-term and there will be times that motivation will ebb and flow during the process of working towards them. Continue to meditate on your whys, but in addition, know the smaller steps to your goal. Include the smaller steps in your journal or on your note cards. Reaching short-term goals throughout your journey still boosts motivation to keep going. You got this! There’s one final part to wrap things up, and that’s imagery.


You know your goals and whys, you’re feeling motivated. Great! Take it one easy step further and look ahead. During imagery, imagine in great details achieving your goals. Imagine yourself achieving your goal and fulfilling your why. Notice how imagining this feels. What do you see? What emotions arise? What physical sensations are occurring in your body? Noting these things in the imagery increases awareness, similar to reading out loud. There are lasting effects of feeling accomplished, knowing that you can do hard things, knowing that your kids see you role modeling perseverance, knowing that you deserve to take care of yourself and to succeed. Remember the outcomes and benefits.

Try this tip to stay motivated, you can and will do it! Use meaning and your whys, we have them for a reason! Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Where there is meaning, there is happiness. Again, if you have the free-time, I recommend reading some of Viktor Frankl’s materials, he has written numerous books. Journal, use notes, reflect, and re-read them to reinforce your whys, you will be benefitted and glad that you did. Best wishes on your journey!

Moraine State Park, PA

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