Maintaining motivation for running can be challenging, especially when faced with illness, busy schedules, and fatigue. 

For those preparing for a significant race like the Comrades Marathon, these obstacles can seem particularly daunting. However, with the right approach, it’s possible to overcome these challenges and get back on track.

Understanding the Struggle

Many runners, find themselves battling motivation as race day approaches. After recovering from an illness, juggling exams, and managing a demanding training schedule, it’s not uncommon to feel physically and mentally drained. The key is to recognize the signs of burnout and take steps to address them.

After a period of intense training and illness, your body needs time to recover. It’s essential to:

  1. Listen to Your Body: Acknowledge the need for rest. Pushing through fatigue can lead to further burnout or injury.
  1. Short, Easy Runs: In the final two weeks before the race, focus on maintaining light activity. Four runs a week, each between 8 to 10 kilometers, can keep your legs active without overexerting yourself.

Minimize Training Load

When you’re battling fatigue and low motivation, it’s important to reduce your training load.

  1. Quality Over Quantity: Instead of long, strenuous runs, opt for shorter, more manageable distances. This helps preserve your energy and keeps your routine consistent.
  1. Keep Moving: Even if the runs are shorter, staying active is crucial. Regular, lighter runs help maintain your fitness without overwhelming your body.

Finding joy in your runs can reignite your motivation. To do this:

  1. Change Your Perspective: Shift your focus from performance to enjoyment. Run in new, scenic areas, or join a running group for social interaction.
  1. Celebrate Small Wins: Acknowledge your progress and celebrate small milestones. This can boost your morale and keep you motivated.

Tapering Off Before Race Day

As race day approaches, it’s vital to taper your training to ensure you’re well-rested. Here are some tapering tips:

  1. Gradual Reduction: Gradually decrease your running volume in the two weeks leading up to the race. This helps your body recover while maintaining your fitness.
  1. Stay Active: Light runs and gentle exercise can keep your muscles engaged without adding stress.

Related: Marathon Tapering Method GUARANTEED To Have You At Your BEST Come Race Day

Mental Preparation

Mental readiness is as important as physical fitness. 

  1. Visualization: Visualize the race day, from the start to the finish line. Imagine yourself running strong and crossing the finish line successfully.
  1. Positive Affirmations: Use positive affirmations to boost your confidence. Remind yourself of your training and your capability to complete the race.

Battling low motivation and fatigue before a big race is a common challenge, but it’s one that can be managed with the right approach. By focusing on rest, reducing your training load, finding joy in running, and preparing mentally, you can reignite your motivation and ensure you’re fit and ready for race day. Remember, the journey to the finish line is as important as the race itself. Stay positive, stay active, and most importantly, enjoy the run.


With a passion for high performance sport – Lindsey Parry is one of South Africa’s most widely recognised coaches. Having led a team to the London, Rio and Tokyo Olympic Games as well as the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, the Gold Coast & Birmingham, and coached both triathletes and runners onto podiums of some of the world’s most illustrious races, Lindsey has a unique ability to understand what it takes to succeed at any level and thrives on coaching, motivating and inspiring others to do the same – whether it’s on the track, on stage or behind a mic.

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