Staying motivated.  Sometimes it’s the most important piece of becoming a great runner.  Burning out or just forgetting why you started running in the first place happens all the time, so here are a few tricks to keep you on track and in shape.

Set Goals. Whether you have a weekly mileage goal or a monthly goal, it’s important to set a goal that’s realistic enough to achieve but challenging enough to appreciate.  You can also consider making goals for mile times, runs per week, calories burned, or just about anything else you can measure.  Don’t forget to celebrate when you achieve what you’ve set out to achieve.  Perhaps a new pair of running shorts or the power to splurge on that new pair of running shoes you’ve been eyeing?

Mix Up Your Routine. A tedious, monotonous run on the same track at the same pace every single day can start to lose its charm.  Make new routes, try new trails, and create new programs for running fartlecks or tempo runs.

It’s also important to give yourself some time off.  This helps you recuperate from the work you’ve done, but also keeps the doldrums away.  If you’re worried about staying active or feeling like you might be on the verge of burning out, start implementing some cross training.  Not only is this extremely beneficial because it’s the opportunity to build new muscles and round out your overall fitness, the change of atmosphere could keep you interested in running longer.

Get a Nike+ or MiCoach. Sometimes all it takes to motivate yourself to run is an app or device that tracks how far you’ve gone and lets you look at the miles you’ve covered.  I’ve never used a MiCoach personally so I can’t attest to how it works, but Nike+ is a great way to track goals and see everything from where you’ve run to how many calories you’ve burned, etc.

Plus, Nike+ is great because you can log on and convene with virtual friends.  You can compare mileage, help each other with goals, and much more, join challenges, and much more.

Track How You Feel After Running. Even the people who dread running the most tend to say that they feel much better after working out.  Use this to your advantage by tracking your runner’s highs.  If you have a smart phone life tracker apps like Mood Tracker can help you correlate your energized, good mood with running.  You can also track this with a pen and paper, just make sure that you remind yourself of the rewards so you’ll find a reason to go in the first place.

Make Running Time Your Time. A lot of people report that they just don’t have enough time to take an hour away from their day to run.  There’s just too much work or too much stress.  Report show that taking the time to step away from your daily tasks actually improve your creativity and productivity.  Set an appointment for yourself to run and let that time be your time.

Tap Into the Running Community. Whether you’re part of a group of friends who run constantly or if you’re just reading running blogs and fitness magazines, there’s something about keeping running at the forefront of your mind that keeps you motivated to stay loyal to the running lifestyle and culture.  Stay immersed and the rewards will be plentiful.

Grab a Friend. Sometimes a running buddy is all that will get someone off the couch.  Find someone who is in similar shape and work with each other to stay motivated, track improvement, and enjoy it when you’ve met your goals.

Make a Killer Running Mix.  Let’s face it, music does it.  If you like to run with music, make a running mix that really gets you going.

Compete in Races Often. Signing up for a race is often an excellent motivator because its inherently associated with times, numbers, personal records, and the thrill of running against a clock. Enter into a few races and challenge yourself to improve for each one.  Just take note, this can create a true addiction.