Tricking My Inner Lazy Runner

Cuddling instead of running
If only you weren’t so comfy.

This may sound pretty obvious but… I love to run. A good heart-pounding, blood-pumping workout or relaxed, flowy mileage-builder can just really hit the spot sometimes, and I always feel better for having gotten it done. I’m sure you can relate. Heck, running is fun!

Except when it’s not.

About once every week or two I know I can count on having one of those days: I’m all dressed in my running clothes with a freshly-charged watch and absolutely no motivation to get my butt out the door to knock it out. There have been times when I’ve procrastinated a silly training run from 7am all the way until the sun starts going down. But hey, my house is spotless from all the procrastination tasks I did, so that counts for something… Right?

When my inner lazy runner makes her appearance I know I have to pull out all the stops to trick her into tackling a crucial run or workout. And don’t even try to deny it, I know you sometimes have the same problem, too. Lucky for you, I have a few Spearmint-tested, Spearmint-approved methods of self-coercion!

The best thing you can do to ensure you’ll get it done, is to anticipate the roadblocks. Think ahead about how your schedule will affect your motivation level and plan accordingly. If you know you have an early morning, it might be helpful to shift your run to the evening rather than trying to cram it in at 5am, when running is the last thing you want to be doing, and vice versa. For example, I’ve learned that I have to get up and run first thing in the morning every Friday, no matter what. Otherwise by the time 5pm rolls around and my brain is fried from the work week, I won’t want to do anything but head straight home, slip into my pajamas, and go into total couch-potato mode until Saturday morning.

Once you’ve got the timing down, make it mindless. In other words, do yourself a favor by planning your route and setting out your running clothes and trainers the night before so you don’t have to waste energy thinking about that stuff the morning of. Heck, you can even sleep in your running clothes if that helps.

Don’t run from home. I rarely run from my front door on days when I’m driving the struggle-bus because I know I’ll just be temped to turn around and head back to bed. Instead, get in your car and drive to a cool trail or park you know you’ll enjoy. You’re less likely to skip a run when you’ve already invested a little extra time and gas money into it. It really helps that I give myself time to grab a coffee on the way and be fully awake when it’s time to run. The promise of that coffee alone is enough to get me out the door!

Sweatsheen = happy
Hey Coach, I did it!

Use the buddy system! Even if you run alone, make yourself accountable to someone. You are way more likely to get out and complete a run if you’ve told people you’re going to do it. I always text my coach the night before to let him know what time I’m going to run and how far. This way, I know he’s expecting an update text on how my run went, and there’s no backing out.

That’s the ‘scientific’ formula I use to trick myself into running even when I’m at my laziest. But even lazy runners need rest days. If you’ve tried all these tricks and you’re still not feeling a run, your body could be trying to tell you something. It’s a good time to look back at your training logs to think hard about whether or not you’ve been overdoing it, and whether you really need to take a day off.

As for me, I know I’m not due for a day off today, just maybe 20-minutes off… Or an hour… An hour and a half could be good… You know, I’ll just lie down and put my legs up for a little while before I head out the door…

How do you trick your inner lazy runner?

I'm an aspiring elite runner from the DC/Northern VA area. I love road racing and am currently training for a half marathon in April. I write about attempting to balance a career with running and enjoying the process of training and improving!

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  1. Making a running date for the runs I’m least likely to be motivated to get out the door for is so helpful! This is especially true for early morning runs, particularly when I know the weather is going to suck.

  2. I always tell myself “you will never regret going out for a run, but you will regret it if you don’t.” How many times have you gone for a run, finished, and wish you hadn’t? Probably never. But how many times have you skipped a run, and later beaten yourself up about it? Almost always!

  3. run dates are always helpful! I agree that some days I know when I have to specifically do my run before other things. On Monday’s I KNOW that I have to go straight to the gym or park to run before going home or my chances of actually getting the run done drop to about 40%. So, Monday’s the dogs wait a little longer for me or Brian to get home to be let out…but it means I’m actually getting my workout done.

  4. I do all of these things. My inner lazy runner is STRONG. Time constraints lately have prevented me from taking the time to drive somewhere to do my run, so I’ve been running from home a lot more than I used to and it feels WAY harder to get out my door.
    One trick I’ve been using lately is saving my favorite podcast for a run I might dread, or saving some really good TV shows for runs I know I’ll have to do on my treadmill.

  5. When my inner runner gets lazy I change the workout. Maybe I take a spin class or go for a swim, or replace a speed workout with a long, slow run or vice versa. My other trick is to be like Nike and Just Do It. When it’s over I feel good.

  6. Maybe it’s because I’m always strapped for time, but honestly running from home is the best thing for me in terms of beating procrastination. Driving somewhere and finding parking take up too much time and I can’t get as much done.

    The other trick I do is to deny myself breakfast or dinner (depending upon the time of day) until I run. Eventually I’ll get hungry enough to run.

  7. When I run after work, my best strategy against the inner schweinehund is to not sit down at all. Just put on running clothes and get out the door without thinking about it at all.

    Also, if it’s really bad, I tell myself I only have to go for ten minutes and then I can turn around. It almost always turns out to be more than that.

    1. I do the same thing! I’m an evening/night runner and when I get home I go straight to the wardrobe for the technical clothing without thinking. I have to be in a zone before I even get home so that I don’t let any room for procrastination sneak in!

  8. I’m way more likely to run from home. Getting out the door is by far the hardest part, so on my really lazy days that is the only thing I make myself do. I tell myself that once I’ve started running I can walk–or cut my mileage–or run slower than I planned–or turn around and go back to bed, I just have to GET OUT THE DOOR. And 95% of the time once I’ve started running, I just keep running.

  9. I’m being the classic lazy runner right now! I’m off from work today, and I keep thinking, “I’ll go after I finish the laundry…” “Let me do my errands first…” “I’ll just check what’s new on SR.” And I’m already in my running clothes! The struggle-bus is real.