10 Ideas On How To Motivate Yourself To Run When You’re Feeling Depressed

Yesterday for one reason or another I found it extremely difficult to motivate myself to run. I was depressed and I didn’t know why (I had a bit of a hangover but it wasn’t anything apocalyptic).

I was delighted with it as at one point I was just gonna count Sunday as a rest day.

Here are some tips on how to motivate yourself into a running if you’re down in the dumps.

  1. Running is an excellent way to curb your appetite if you’re a depressive binge eater – Everyone is different but I find that immediately after a run I am not hungry whatsoever. When I’m depressed I tend to comfort eat quite a bit so running can act as a distraction and a deterrent.
  2. Running versus the alternative of giving into something more self destructive – Back when I was a student I’d deal with depression by drinking through it, oblivious to the reality that I was only making things worse for myself. I drank to feel liberation from my reality. Now I run for the same effect. Sometimes I do still get the urge to drink for destructive purposes but now that I have running as an outlet it is the best option. I will continue to choose this whilst I have the strength to run.
  3. Running always seems difficult when you’re feeling down (but it really isn’t) – And this mightn’t be the case in reality. Running never changes but our attitude towards it is always in flux. Sometimes it seems easy, other times it can seem almost impossible. The act of putting one foot in front of the other never changes. Getting out the front door or onto the treadmill is always the hardest step and it gets easier from there.
  4. Never underestimate the power of a short nap to change your mood for the better – If a run seems impossible now because of you’re mood, try to go to sleep for 15 minutes. I did exactly this before yesterday’s 11 miler and my mind was rejuvenated afterwards and I went straight out there.
  5. Don’t underestimate the power of music to rejuvenate you – I can be feeling like shit one moment and then with a click in Spotify I can be up and charged against the World again. I personally hate the cliched motivational music that are packaged on CD compilations and go straight for music I enjoy.
  6. Go for the caffeine boost a few hours before a run to brighten your mood – This only works well if I have 2 or 3 cans of Red Bull. If I’m already depressed and have say 5-6 cans then my mood will only worsen and the anxiety will start. I will also need to shit like a trooper which is why I try to drink my caffeinated beverages at least 2 hours before my run. Otherwise I will need to shit all of the badness out of me when I’m out on the run.
  7. Understanding your depressed mood and understanding yourself – Yesterday I was down and I didn’t know why. Sometimes a cloud descends and I’m numb to myself and the world. If I start running then my mood will begin to clear and if I’m lucky I’ll understand why I was feeling that way. Either way, I learn more about why I get depressed when I run and find ways to fight those moods.
  8. Avoid the dreaded hangover altogether if you wanna run – If you’re gonna drink alcohol the night before a run, stick to your known limits. On Saturday night I had a little too much wine and it dampened my spirits (no pun intended.) the next morning. For me I can drink 14 units of alcohol without feeling a hangover (which is about 8 Whiskeys). Any more than that and I won’t really want to run the next day.
  9. Be flexible with your run plans if you’re feeling down – Don’t impose your usual standards upon yourself if you aren’t OK. Sometimes it pays to run purely for the mental rather than the physical benefits it offers. Putting too much pressure on yourself to perform will kill your fun.
  10. Running as a way to formulate a path towards a better life – Running can help you escape a place and a situation where you feel trapped and unhappy. You might think that this is just a temporary measure, but it leaves you with the ability to find a way through your problems and ultimately a way out of your situation.