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How do I keep running when my body feels tired and I just want to stop? I have many tricks up my running top sleeves and sometimes I need to use them all just to get me through the run.

I try to remind myself that my body is fine and can keep going, it’s just my brain that has given up. It wants me to stop, go home and have a cup of tea in a hot bath.

The Mental Game

The internet people tell us that running is a mental sport and usually quotes a number anywhere between 75% – 90%.

I have to say that I completely agree. My mindset will determine how enjoyable or sucky my run is.

When I’m feeling great about life, my runs will be awesome and I’ll feel happy to be pounding the streets. The miles will add up quickly and I enjoy every step of it.

When my mindset is in a negative place, my run is usually hard work. It might trigger my anxiety or it can just make it feel like it’s lasting forever.

It’s runs like these that I need to pull out all the tricks to keep myself running when I’m tired and just want to stop.

Music and Daydreaming

Music can help me to keep running when I’m tired as I allow myself to daydream. Daydreaming is a great distraction and can make the miles fly by a lot quicker.

At the moment my favourite playlist is Take That. I run and sing along (badly) while daydreaming about being one of their backing dancers. Don’t judge me!

So get your favourite music on and daydream your run away. Check out Runner’s World playlist suggestions if you need inspiration!


I like to use a mantra if I’m trying to keep myself running when I’m tired. There are probably thousands of options online but you have to find one that works for you.

I’ve tried a few different mantra but my favourite is just “I can do this!”. I repeat this over and over and over and over again.

For me, 4 words work the best. I say it as though I was counting my steps… 1, 2, 3, 4… I, can, do, this!

Lamp Post to Lamp Post

My other go-to trick to get myself motivated to keep running when I’m tired is to spot a lamp post and run to it. It’s as simple as that.

Anything works, you could pick a bus stop, or hedge, or parked car etc. I’ll try to pick out the same colour car along the road or the same make of car. Just choose something and run to it then pick another thing and run to that. Keep doing it until you have finished or the effect has stopped working.

How To Keep Running When You Feel Tired And Want To Stop
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Car Licence Plate Game

I’m not sure how this would work in other countries as I’m in the UK. Here’s how to play the game.

See a licence plate e.g. PL54 RTH and remember the numbers 54. When you see the next licence plate, add the numbers of the new one e.g. WR09 BFR to the previous one (54 + 09 = 63). Add 63 to the numbers of the next licence plate and on and on and on.

Keep going until you finish running or until your brain melts and dribbles out of your ear. It’s a great distraction but I seem to lose the ability to do basic maths when I’m running so I don’t stick at it for long.

Monthly Mileage Challenge

I decided to sign up for a virtual running challenge to help with my motivation. I’ve committed to running 75 miles in October 2020 which is more than I’ve been doing each month. On average, I’ve only been running 40-50 miles per month so signing up to 75 is a bit of a jump.

I know I can do it though, I’ve completed a couple of marathons so am not afraid to increase my running. I signed up mainly to keep me inspired and to give me something to focus on.

This also helps me to keep running when I’m tired because I know I need to achieve my 75 miles in order to get a new shiny medal. I don’t want to get to the end of the month and have to run 3 long runs in a week. My body couldn’t take it and my head would definitely explode.

Remember Why You’re Doing This

What is your reason to run? Is it to get healthy? Are you training for a race or virtual race? Whatever it is, remind yourself of the reason and visualise yourself achieving the goal.

Run Reward

During my last marathon training, my favourite reward after my long run was a cuppa in a hot bath followed by a full English breakfast. When the miles made my body ache, I used to look forward to the run being over and getting my reward.

A running buddy of mine actually had us singing “eggs and bacon and tea, oh my!” during one of our long runs. It kept us amused for a mile or so.

Over To You…

How about you, what tricks do you use to keep yourself going during a run? Have you got a game that you play or a favourite playlist? What run rewards do you promise yourself? As always, I love to hear from you so either comment below or contact me via one of the ways on my contact page.

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