3. Once you've developed creative solutions for the issues that challenge your motivation the most, keep drilling down to find places you can systematize to take the thinking out of running. Before you know it, you'll be a well-oiled machine that's out the door before your mind even realizes you're running.
Don't Be Afraid to Have a Little Fun
When you're training for an important goal, like qualifying for Boston or running your first ultra, it's easy to get so caught up with that goal that you forget that running is supposed to be fun. Personally, that happened to me when trying to qualify for the Olympic trials in 2008. Every run became an increasingly important workout or recovery run, and soon just thinking about running became a chore—not a fun way to train.
Don't be afraid to make running fun again if you're having a particularly uninspired day or week of training. Join a new running group, explore a new trail, buy a new running outfit, download a new app, go for a run without a pace, distance or route in mind. If you think about it, you can find a myriad of ways to have a little fun with your next run.
The real secret to training isn't in any one workout or long run. Rather, it's consistency that's of critical importance. As such, having an occasional fun day or week isn't going to impact your fitness negatively or your ability to achieve your goals. You're still running and, more importantly, you'll be happy. As 2:12 marathoner Trent Briney learned before his breakout Olympic trials performance, the key to racing fast is being happy.
Remind Yourself of Your Goals Strategically
Recall your ambitious goals when the training gets difficult and monotonous; it can be that last-ditch effort to get you out the door. If you're struggling to stay motivated, put reminders of your goals in the situations and places that present the biggest barriers to your training.
For example, if you run after work, you can put your goal on the dashboard of your car. This way, when you start to talk yourself out of driving to the gym, or come up with an excuse when you walk in the door, you see your goal staring you in the face, and you can ask yourself: "How much do I want it today?" If that doesn't get you motivated, you need a new goal.
More: Defining Your Goal
This is a very simple way to keep your training on track if you're a runner who is very motivated by your goals, but needs a little reminder or a nudge once in a while to keep yourself on target.
Just remember that every runner, even the fastest elites and most accomplished ultra runners, go through periods of uninspired training, and need to be motivated. Instead of giving into the training doldrums next time, implement these three suggestions and watch as you plow through the lulls.race.