Motivation in a Long Run

How to stay motivated when you hit "the wall.”

You trained, fueled, slept well and have the most motivating music playing in your ears. There still is no guarantee that you won’t hit what runners call "the wall." Maybe it’s physical, maybe it’s psychological, maybe it’s both. Here are some tips to help motivate you during any tough times you may encounter during training, or even on a race day.

Remember your “why”

Most people run for a reason, whether it is because you enjoy a challenge, want to stay fit to live well and live long or to honor another person. When you feel unmotivated, tired or sub-par on a run, bring your focus back to your "why." Let it be your drive.

Find your flow

Over the course of your training, figure out what helps you get the most from your run. Here are some things to consider:

  • Listening to music or a podcast
  • Running alone or with someone
  • Being prepared with fuel and hydration for before, during, and after training
  • Tracking your race time and distance with a watch or device, GPS, scenic mile markers, or family and friends at different locations
  • Repeating a mantra or self-affirming statement to yourself

Shifting your focus and positive self-talk can have a huge influence on your body and mind, but may not come without a little work. Be sure to practice during training until it becomes habit. Examples include, "I can do this," "I have trained," "I am strong," and "I always finish what I start." Think of other areas of your life where you are successful. Then apply those characteristics to your race.

Let markers be your guide

Set markers — miles completed, landmarks, family and friends along the course — and use them as motivators. At these markers, run at least five more minutes, then decide to slow down, walk or continue at your current pace. Repeat this until you finish. Markers can even be your own inner voice saying, "Run up this hill, then you can slow down."

Trust your training plan

You have followed a plan and have already accomplished so much. So, trust your hard work and follow what you have learned from your training. If you miss one or two workouts during your training, don’t let that trigger doubt. Remember, finishing the race requires strength of both your body and mind.
Each race will be different. Some factors will be in your control. Others will not. But you will always be in control of you — your choices, your actions. Remember why you are running, trust your training and believe in your ability to finish. This will help you push through and cross the finish line.

Runners cheering at charity marathon

Teixeira, P, Carraça, E, Markland, D, Silva, M, Ryan, R, Exercise, Physical Activity, and Self-determination Theory: A Systematic Review, National Institutes of Health, June 22, 2012,

Springen, K, Top 6 Exercise Excuses and How to Beat Them, WebMD, April 11, 2012,

12 Tips to Help You Stick with Exercise, WebMD, Reviewed by DerSarkissian, C, June 14, 2017,

The information provided is for educational purposes only. It is not intended as medical advice. Always consult your doctor for appropriate health advice and guidance, including prior to starting a new diet or exercise program.