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Staying motivated to run. Why the first mile is the key.

Staying Motivated on Long Runs

How to stay motivated to run is one of the most common questions we get, so we thought it was time to tackle a tough topic. 

I don't want to get up. I'm tired and I've got a million things to do today.

These are just some of the things that go though my hear when it's time to get up and hit my long run at a time of day that should not be legal to be awake in any state.

You only have to run 1 mile and then you will be in the groove, I tell myself.

You know what though, that last one is actually very true. The key to motivation is mile one. If you can convince yourself to just go one mile, the rest will come naturally.

Why is the first mile so hard?

The muscles are rebelling.

Your body needs time to go from an anaerobic state to an aerobic state which requires more oxygen so mile one is consistently arduous. A great tip is taking a few minutes to stretch and run in place or I like to do jumping jacks. They really get things moving without overdoing it. About 1-2 minutes will get you ready to pound the pavement.

Your pace is messing with you.

How many times have you checked your pace in the first mile and thought Whoa I'm on fire! Or maybe I'm slower than a heard of sloths stampeding through peanut butter. Either way it takes a whole mile to get into a rhythm. I used to get so focused on my time in the first mile that I would either be mentally frustrated and run even slower or run too fast and burn out at mile 3 or 4. 

Now I don't even check my pace until after mile one. Because I've learned I need a steady rhythm and pace I have gone much faster and farther by not tracking my pace until after mile one.

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Its a mental game.

Congratulations, You got out the front door. Now it's time to set some mental preparations. Tell yourself, one mile and then I'll be in the zone. Just one mile.  Your mental state is key to longevity in running. So set the expectation that mile one is a warmup and the real joy is getting through that. Just reminding yourself that the joy of running is 5,280 feet away will really set you up to stay motivated and just keep running!

Get Social.


Nothing can keep you motivated like a support team or community. Join a runners Facebook group or download Strava a free app for people passionate about running.

Anyway you connect, find some friends or a community of runners to share your goals with. The fact that you know they are watching is sometimes motivation in itself.

The endorphins need to kick in.

Although studies are inconclusive about exercise endorphins, some show that for some people they get that exercise high after just 10 minutes of sweating—about the time of that first mile.

So next time you’re through that first mile, remember, this is why we run.

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