How To Keep Running When You Want To Stop – 10 Ways

How To Keep Running When You Want To Stop

There comes a point in every runner’s journey that the proverbial wall will be hit. We’ve all heard about it with marathon runners. They are nearing the end of their journey when they hit that wall and just can’t go on. But did you know that it’s not just for those guys? It can happen to anyone. Maybe it’s mile three for a person who has never run that far in their lives before. The point in which you are running and you decide you want to stop is truly relative to each person, depending on their activity and fitness level.

We’ve all got to learn how to keep running when we want to stop! While it is important to listen to your body when its warning signals are going off, a lot of times it’s just your brain trying to convince you to take a break and stop short when you really could keep going. In today’s article, we’re going to be exploring the top 10 ways to keep running when you feel the urge to throw in the towel.

1. Control Your Breathing

A lot of times, runners will stop their runs short because they can’t get a handle on their breathing. This is especially true for runners new to running or new to running longer distances because their bodies haven’t had time to adjust. Similar to our tips on how to get back to running, learning to control your breathing takes time, patience, and the building up of stamina.

There are lots of techniques on how to control your breathing out there, but it really comes down to taking your time and gradually building up your lungs.

2. Check Your Posture

Rarely do people think about their posture and how it can keep them from running as long as they’d desire. But, a bad posture can mean that you are using more energy than necessary and you’re tiring out or that you are putting unnecessary pressure on certain joints, risking injury.

Your ideal posture while running includes having your shoulders back, head up, and eyes looking straight ahead. You want to make sure you are not tensed up and you are nice and relaxed. If you are feeling hunched over at any point, be sure to readjust. This could lead to your body having a hard time getting the oxygen it needs!

3. Eat Carbs

Before going out on a longer run, you must fuel up properly. By eating a gel or a carb-filled snack, it will help to keep your body replenished with fuel. If you wait too long to eat, then your muscle glycogen will be depleted, and you’ll run out of steam!

For those running less than an hour, you may not need fuel during your run to keep going, but they definitely suggest for runners training for 60 minutes or longer to plan to eat a carb-filled snack to keep going! By eating carbs and being properly fueled, you can lessen your chance of that urge to stop because of becoming too tired.

4. Drink Fluids

Similar to eating carbs, another reason runners won’t want to keep running is because they are inadequately hydrated. Dehydration, especially during warmer weather, is no joke! It’s very serious and can lead to some dangerous consequences. So, if your body is telling you to stop running because it is thirsty, you definitely need to listen! However, you can easily prevent this..
Be sure to hydrate before your run, and if you are planning on running a longer distance, get yourself a running water bottle! Having a water bottle with you on your run will make it easier to stay hydrated and keep running when you want to stop!

Once you’ve got your breathing, posture, and fuel right, you’ve successfully eliminated all the external reasons you would want to (or need to) stop running! Unfortunately, it’s not always outward reasons that you would want to stop running. Actually, more often than not, your mind and other internal obstacles play a bigger role in stopping short on meeting your running goals! So let’s look at how to work through it with the following…

5. Control Your Mind

You can find a million reasons to stop a run short. You can tell yourself, “Well, I still went further than last time.” Or you could think, “The weather just wasn’t cooperating.” It’s crazy how easily our minds can talk us into not reaching our goals!

Well, the absolute best way to keep running when you want to stop is to tell yourself, “No!” Sounds too simple, right? Well, it’s really not.  Running is just as much a mental exercise as it is physical.

Pretty much anytime you step out to go for a run, something can happen that might end it short. If it’s not something that will bring immediate danger to your health, you can control your mind and strengthen your mental ability to keep going! Here are just a few ways you can control your mind

How To Keep Running When You Want To Stop

Focus on the Positive

Like I said, it’s so easy to find an excuse! If you want to control your mind and practice mental toughness, you can start by focusing on what is going right! Yes, maybe the weather isn’t ideal (then run on a treadmill), but imagine how great you’re going to feel afterwards! See? It’s not that hard to see the positive! There are way too many positives about running and reaching your mileage goal, so focus on that and keep the negativity out!

Plan for Unpleasant Practices

If you REALLY want to work on controlling your mind to keep running when you want to stop, you can intentionally plan unpleasant practices. From tough hill runs to a distance jog when it’s sprinkling, sometimes getting yourself out of your comfort zone on purpose will prepare you to keep going during those unexpected times.

So, think about the unpleasant practices that usually shake you up and make you want to quit, and try to work them in gradually. You’ll surprise yourself at how much tougher you’ll become!

Fix the Issue

If you mentally cannot escape from whatever is stopping your run, find a way to fix it. For example, if you’re noticing that your legs have been heavy the past few runs, find out why, then fix it! If there is something within your control, take control and take action! Then, mentally, you can check that off your list and get back to focusing on your goal.

Practice makes perfect, even with your mind. Once youfocus your mind on running longer, your body will follow!

6. Find a DistractionHow To Keep Running When You Want To Stop

Sometimes, you may want to stop running because, frankly, you’re bored. When you have nothing to distract you, your mind can wander and focus on the negative. Thankfully, there are all kinds of things that you can find to distract yourself from your long run ahead.

If you’re in a neighborhood, you could focus on houses, noting different styles that you like, or the cars passing, counting the number of a certain style you like. If you’re in a race, you could watch the spectators as you run by with the goal of determining whose sign is the most creative of the day!

By distracting yourself, you are making your run go by more quickly! If you’ve found a good enough distraction, you may even think at the end, “Geez, where’d the time go?!”

7. Focus on Something

Some days, running can come easily, but other days it can just feel you’ve never run before. On your days when you are struggling to make it, find something a short distance ahead and focus on it. Whether it’s a mailbox, street sign, or a stoplight, tell yourself to make it to that object. Once you make it there, find a new goal, and keep going!

In a race, you could pick a person ahead of you to pass. Once you pass that person, you could select another person, and so on!

Whenever I go up large hills, I repeatedly find a spot in the asphalt just ahead of me to make it to! It’s crazy how creating such little goals for yourself can make an enormous difference when you’re facing tough obstacles!

8. Find Someone To Talk ToHow To Keep Running When You Want To Stop

To me, it really helps to take my mind off the task at hand if I have someone to talk to. Getting lost in a conversation is one of the best distractions! If you’re going for a fun run at a conversational pace, this is one of the best ways to keep running when you want to stop!

9. Listen to Something Entertaining

Maybe you don’t have a running buddy just yet, or you prefer to run alone. Well, there are still some great distractions for you! Pop in your favorite headphones, and they can entertain you just as much. In a recent study, they found that over 60% of runners prefer listening to something on their runs. Here are some ideas of things you could listen to on your long runs to keep you going…


Who doesn’t love a great soundtrack to fuel their run?! Well, there’s a reason it’s the most popular thing runners do while running. Listening to music has been found to not only get you more excited about your run but also keep you at a more consistent pace. Not to mention, it also serves as a great distraction!


When you train for really long runs, you may find that music doesn’t hold your attention as long as you’d hope. That’s totally normal! Venture into listening to podcasts! They’re entertaining, and they almost serve the same purpose of running with a buddy as you listen to familiar voices each run.

There’s a podcast out there for everyone, so take some time to find what works best. I enjoy listening to the Marathon Training Academy podcast. There’s just something about listening to people’s inspirational running triumphs that gets me even more motivated!


Another great thing to listen to while running is a good audiobook. Again, like podcasts, the possibilities are endless! The biggest difference between podcasts and audiobooks is that the audiobooks are a lot longer. So, if you’re training for that marathon or ultra, this could keep your attention for longer!

10. Remember Why You’re RunningHow To Keep Running When You Want To Stop

And here lies the best way to keep running when you want to stop…remember your why. One of the best things about this sport is that it has people from all different ability levels and walks of life. You may have begun running at 12 or 25 or 70. You may be recently getting back to running or a seasoned pro. Your goal may be a mile, a 10k, or an ultra marathon. It doesn’t matter! What matters is that you remember why you are getting yourself out there and challenging yourself!

At those crucial moments when your mind is trying to convince you to stop, you need to refocus and shift your mind. Start reminiscing on how far you’ve come. Start daydreaming on how far you will go. Start picturing yourself at the end of that race. If you remember why you’re running, there’s a huge chance that you will forget why you wanted to stop in the first place.


To keep running can be tough for anyone.  While you need to listen to your body’s warning signals, sometimes your brain will try to trick you to stop when you could keep going..  In this article, we covered 10 steps of how to keep running when you want to stop.

The 10 ways to keep running when you want to stop are:  1. Control Your Breathing, 2. Check Your Posture, 3. Eat Carbs, 4. Drink Fluids, 5. Control Your Mind, 6. Find a Distraction, 7. Focus on Something, 8. Find Someone To Talk To, 9. Listen to Something Entertaining, 10. Remember Why You’re Running

No matter where you are in your running journey, you should be able to find something in the above list that will help you know how to keep running when you want to stop.  Now get out there and get some miles in!!


Photo of author

Jessica Meacham

I’m a former college athlete turned marathon-running and outdoor exploring mom of two little ones. From hiking through Iceland to paddle boarding in Lake Tahoe, our family is always up for a fun adventure that incorporates fun and fitness!

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