QT: Staying Motivated to Get Out the Door and Go for a Run Later in the Day

A couple of days ago, there was a post in our FB group from Derek who is struggling to adapt to a change in his work schedule that forced him to have to scrap his morning runs and train after work instead.

He admitted that he was struggling to find the motivation to go for a run after a long day of work. And with a race coming up just about a month away, he was asking for some help from the group.

(In addition to the memes, GIFs and good times that we tend to have over on the Book of Faces, this is another reason you should come join our FB group if you’re not in it already. When you are struggling with something, big or small, you can ask and the collective wisdom of several hundred runners is there to support you.)

Anyway, several people jumped in with suggestions but one of our peeps, Ms. Julie Boles, absolutely hit it out of the park.

She is also an after work runner, and she dropped nine pearls of wisdom that will hopefully help Derek get over the hump and find his mojo.

And they were so good, that I decided to share Julie’s tips with yall as a quick tip.

If you ever struggle with running later in the day, especially if you’re typically more of a morning runner but are being forced to adapt to afternoon/evening running, here are some ideas of things you can do that will help you stay on track with your training.

9 Ways to Make Later Runs Actually Happen

At this point, I’m 100% letting Julie take control of this quick tip.

These tips/suggestions are pure gold, so I’m staying out of the way.

This is, word for word, her reply to Derek’s query.

So I totally get not wanting to run when you get home. Yesterday I spent my entire hour-long train ride home trying to think of ways to avoid doing my run. Eventually, I realized there was no way for me to make it up later, so I compromised with myself by deciding to run a mile less than I normally do. And then I ended up running almost my normal distance anyway.

So here are some things I do to get myself out there:

Plan for it the Night Before

I lay out my running clothes the night before so that when I get home from work, I don’t have the excuse of not being able to find the right socks and wasting time looking for them until it’s too late and it’s time to make dinner.

Give Yourself Time to Decompress

My commute home is two hours, and the last part of it is a mile walk home from the train station. When I get home, I immediately put on my running clothes, then set a timer for myself for 15 minutes so I have time to sit on the couch, pet my cats, mess around on social media, then get out the door.

Use Your Run as a Reward for a Crappy Day at Work

Anytime something happens at work that totally stresses me out, I just sit there thinking “I can’t wait to go for my run so I can stop thinking about this jerk who totally disrespected me.” Or whatever. Changing myself from the “ugh I have to run after work” mindset to the “thank god I get to run this stupid day off” mindset really helped.

Make it Pretty

Especially now that the days are getting longer, I get to do more sunset runs. I go run in places where I can get a better view of the sunset just so I have something to look forward to.

Run Specific Entertainment

I’m an audiobook junkie, and if I’m in a running slump, I find myself a book that I CAN’T STOP LISTENING TO and then only let myself listen to it when I’m running. This works with favorite podcasts too.

Accept that the Run is Going to Feel Different than a Morning Run

Morning running is great because it energizes you for the rest of the day. Evening runs sometimes don’t feel as good because my legs are already tired, I’m tired, etc. Evening runs might be a little bit slower or it might feel like you’re working harder at a pace that’s usually easy for you. Changing your expectations of how the run is going to go can help.

Can you Run Near your Job?

This is going to be my next step at making evening running easier. I’ll just take my running clothes with me to work, change there, get my run in, then go home. Because my commute is so long, by the time I get home, I usually don’t want to do anything else, so I think adding my run to my work day will help. Plus it’s new scenery and paths to run on, which helps keep things feeling fresh

Plan for Dinner Ahead of Time

Part of what makes evening running a challenge is dealing with dinner. I’m the one who does the majority of the cooking, so I need to be back to my house by a certain time to eat at a normal time. My husband and I do meal kits (hello fresh and blue apron) and it helps a lot. Supermarkets stress me out for some reason, and it always takes me forever to figure out what I feel like cooking. Meal kits work for me because I don’t have to worry about planning and when I get home from my run, I just pull out one of the meals and go. But this could be just as easily achieved if you plan out what dinners you’re going to make on Sunday and then just go with it so you don’t have to worry about that when you get home from your run.

Shameless Bribery

I will make deals with myself all the time to get myself out there. Nothing huge, but stuff like “okay, if I hit all of my scheduled runs this month (or week depending on how bad my motivation is) I’ll get myself a new pair of running socks/ice cream from my favorite spot/whatever.”

Remember, We are All Adaptable

Whether or not you want to admit it, you are a creature of habit.

We all are.

If you’re a morning runner, you prefer to run in the morning. If you typically run later in the day, that is the ideal way for you to unwind from the day’s stress and have a relaxing evening.

Either way, when we are forced from our routine by life it can be easy to lose our mojo and struggle to stay consistent with our training.

Give yourself some grace. And also, remember that we can change.

I used to hate – HATE – the idea of running in the morning.

And by morning, I pretty much mean anything before 11 am.

Now, most days I’m finished running before the sun rises.

If I can change from an afternoon/evening runner to a morning runner, you can make the changes that you need to stay on track with your training and keep making progress toward your goals.

It may not always be easy, but it’s doable.

If you have the will to adapt, you will find the way. I promise.

Transitioning from a morning runner to one who runs later in the day can be hard. But it's doable. #runchat Share on X

What Time of Day do You Prefer to Run? Has That Always Been Your Ideal Time, or Have You Had to Adapt Your Preferences Over Time?

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