Whilst I’m sure like us you like to go walking often, sometimes it is hard to keep motivated on long walks, especially if you are just not feeling it, for whatever the reason.
However, you have done the hard work, you’ve stepped out of the door and donned your walking shoes, turning down the temptation of the sofa and TV. So I thought I’d drop some ideas that you may want to adopt to keep you motivated on a long walk.
Motivating yourself whilst on a walk
I’m going to start at the end, if that makes sense. Whilst I have some points that will motivate you to get out the door, I’ve decided to start with these suggestions once you are already on your walk.
1 – Reward yourself
We’ll start our list with that old favourite, rewarding yourself with a treat. You may want to stop half-way and enjoy a cream tea or pint over lunch. Of course if you are walking to lose weight these might not be suitable, but perhaps an orange juice and salad, or maybe you will be prepared and bring a fruit medley with you?
But it doesn’t have to be during the walk that you get the reward. Perhaps you have had your eye on a new pair of shoes for those special nights out? Tell yourself that if you get to a certain mileage that you’ll treat yourself when you get back.
Whatever your reward, us humans have been motivated by rewards since childhood, so why not bring that option into motivating yourself on long walks?
2 – Seek out a change to your route
We all have our favourite routes that we go on. But sometimes you get half-way and as you know what’s coming round every corner, you may feel a bit like it’s samey and you feel a bit de-motivated.
So why not take your map and see if there’s a nearby option that will add a new section to your existing route? What happens if instead of turning into that field, you walk a further mile down the country road before turning off? If you can still get back on track later on then it’s always good to see a new bit of countryside.
Of course, it also adds a little excitement knowing that you may find yourself going wrong and end up feeling lost, even though you are not far away from your normal route.
3 – Be prepared for the weather
There’s little worse than heading off on your walk in sunshine, only for the clouds to come along and it start to pour when you are miles from anywhere.
So before you set off, especially on a long walk, take 5 minutes to check out the weather forecast, especially if you are travelling a distance from your home. And make sure you pack a jacket for potential rain, or if it looks like it’s going to turn out sunny, don’t forget to pack some sunscreen and a hat.
4 – Bring in a fun element
If you are walking along and feel it’s a bit of a drudge, look at ways of bringing some fun to the proceedings. Play a game with yourself, such as guessing the number of steps to across a field, or making objects out of the shapes in a cloud or the landscape ahead.
If you come across a stream or river play pooh sticks, with the loser having to carry the rucksack next, or maybe some other forfeit.
Why not whistle your favoutite tunes, sing nursery rhymes, or vow to say hello to every stranger you meet just to see their reaction! Heck, we’ve even been known to talk to cows and sheep that we meet!
5 – Use your fitness app
Fitness apps on your phone or your wearable tech are designed to be the mobile equivalent of that scary guy in the gym that you pay lots of money to shout at you.
Ok, that may seem a bit over the top, but they can keep you motivated by logging the amount of miles and the speed you are going, as well as telling you how many calories you are burning. Feeling a bit low after just 2 miles? Take a look at your current time spent and vow to up your speed for the next mile.
Hey, you may even find that your mojo is back so much you decide to do it for the next mile as well.
6 – Remind yourself why you started
Sometimes you get so down that you just can’t see why you are walking these long miles. If you get to that stage then take 5 minutes out, sit on a bench, log, the grass, and just remind yourself why you started on your walking journey in the first place.
There’s nothing better than a little stop and pause, remembering your why, to get yourself back on track when the going gets tough. Whether it be losing weight, a general feeling of wasted time in front of the TV, getting fit after a health scare or even just a new found interest in the great outdoors, a gentle reminder will get you back on the long road ahead.
Motivating yourself before you head out
These points are all designed to keep your motivation for long walks before you set off. So if you find that you need a gentle kick up the backside to get yourself out walking, I’m sure one or more of these ideas will be that trigger.
7 – Set yourself a goal, and tell people
If you are feeling as if you need a push, then set yourself a goal, such as losing half a stone by walking, and tell your nearest and dearest. That way when you feel like taking a weekend off walking, you’ll stop, think about your “promise”, and decide that actually that walk which will help you lose weight is better than staying at home eating cream cakes. Yes, really, it is.
It’s the guilt factor that kicks in, and also the shame when Mary from accounts says you look like you’ve put weight on rather than losing it – she was always a nasty piece of work.
8 – Join a walking group or find a friend to come with you
Setting off for a long walk on your own can be hard work. But join forces with a friend and the camaraderie will help you immensely. Not only will the miles seem that much easier, there’ll be laughs and moments shared that you will look back on for years.
You’ll also feel accountable. Many years ago I was a jogger and I entered the London Marathon. One of my colleagues had a daughter who had also entered, and my colleague asked if I would train with her as she had never ran before (why enter the Marathon, I don’t know?). So I did. It was tough, getting out the door during the cold winter months, but I couldn’t let Jackie down. And she didn’t want to let me down either. Afterwards we admitted that on many occasions we didn’t want to go, but it was that mutual goal that forced us to.
If none of your friends want to join you, why not join a local walking group. There’s often walking groups in your own town that you don’t even know about. Joining a group will give you that sense of belonging to a team that sport often gives you. You could also make some new friends that have shared interests.
9 – Take on a challenge or enter a race
One sure fire way to keep yourself motivated is to take on a challenge. How about working your fitness levels up so that you feel confident of taking on a multi day hike?
One of my aims is to complete the South Downs Way, a 100 mile walk from Bar End to Eastbourne. I’ve walked several parts of it, but would love to complete the whole thing over a week. The planning involved, such as will you be camping or staying in B&B’s, how far can you walk each day, what provisions do you need to take and what can you get en route, will keep you motivated.
Alternatively, could you enter a race, or organised charity walk? There’s plenty about if you look for them, so that may be one way to go to keep you motivated.
10 – Experiment to find your favourite walking time of the day
Historically you may have always gone out first thing for your walking, finding it easier to head off straight after breakfast whilst it’s quieter and you haven’t been distracted with life’s day to day routines and tasks.
So to liven things up a little, why not head out in the afternoon or evening? In the afternoon there’s a good chance that you’ll get some warmer weather than in the morning. Whilst in the evening you may well be rewarded by some spectacular sunsets (but don’t get caught in the middle of nowhere in the dark!).
11 – Get a medium to large sized dog
Now I wouldn’t suggest this at all if you are not prepared to look after your dog properly, because it’s not just about the walks. But if there is anything that will get you out every day, then it’s owning a dog.
Nicky adopted Paco who was rescued from the streets of Romania by a charity. Whilst he came with his own set of issues, he has single handedly got Nicky (and myself to a lesser degree) out walking. And now we love walking!
Paco loves to explore new places as much as us, and being medium sized can walk many miles with just the odd bowl of water and treat. So if you find motivation waning, and you have room in your life and house for some furry four legged love, then why not consider a rescue dog.
12 – Take a bigger interest in nature and the environment
Start to learn about different birds, trees, countryside animals and flowers. Get a book about one or more, that you can delve into to learn from. Then when you are out walking try to see what you have learnt about in the flesh, so to speak.
Do you now recognise trees now that you didn’t know what they were before? What wildflowers do you see growing in the woodland – can you name them? Can you tell the difference between the different birds that you see? Have you spotted any rabbit holes or badger setts? Or how about learning about geology and the different rocks that make up the land where you are walking?
Becoming more aware of the world around you may re-invigorate your walks. You may consider even joining a group such as The Woodland Trust or RSPB. Perhaps you will see the problem the countryside has with litter and join in the battle to keep the country tidy.
13 – Keep a walking journal
Journaling seems to be a big part of modern-day life, with people using it to become more mindful and jotting down their thoughts about life and their interests.
You could start a walking journal, taking note of where and when you walked, what the weather was like, the wildlife you came across, and any funny moments.
When you become a bit de-motivated, reading back over the pages in your walking journal will help re-kindle the spirit within you, as you recall those lovely (and maybe not so lovely) walks.
14 – Buy some new gear!
The final point in this section is just about throwing money at the problem, lol.
Go on, treat yourself to a new pair of walking new shoes or boots. You know that actually your old ones are a bit worn down, and a new pair of shoes will give you more cushioning, and thus make your walks a bit easier.
Maybe you need some other new gear – a new jacket, fleece, leggings or trousers perhaps? Maybe some walking poles so that you can give Nordic walking a try?
Ditch the car (well, as much as possible!)
I’m going to finish with a few points about that 4 wheeled everyday essential for so many people – the car.
15 – Never drive places that are within walking distance
We all moan about the numbers of cars on the road, the traffic jams that clog up the roads every day. But are we doing anything ourselves to stop this?
If you currently drive a mile or so to go for a walk, why not start your walk at your front door? That extra little at the start and finish of your walk will push a normally short or medium walk into a longer one.
16 – Park further away
If you have to drive somewhere, find somewhere to park further away from your destination. That way you can get some extra miles in on every journey, and will make you feel better upon arrival.
If you usually park in towns or cities but can park further away there is a good chance that you will save money on cheaper car parks.
If you drive to work, can you walk, park further away, or even adopt a part public transport commute and walk combination?
17 – Extra Money!
By ditching the car as much as possible, you should be able to save some money on petrol. Now if saving money isn’t motivational, I don’t know what is. And just think, the extra money could go towards some new gear from point 14, or even a walking holiday!
Conclusion – How to keep motivated on long walks
It’s easy to get yourself in a rut before you realise, and your motivation has disappeared before you know it. But by following some of these 17 tips to stay motivated you’ll soon get your mojo back and be walking again with that spring in your step.
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