Trail Running and Hiking: Staying Motivated on the Trail

Keep your runs and hikes fresh and interesting by incorporating these tricks from Columbia Sportswear’s Director of Toughness.

Long runs and hikes are great for training and pushing yourself, but they can become monotonous after a while. As you go mile after mile there may be a time when you need a bit more motivation. An extended trail run might leave you feeling bored and unsatisfied at times, so it is no surprise that staying motivated out on the trail can be just as challenging as completing a trek.

Faith Briggs, Columbia Sportswear’s Director of Toughness, has hit this mental wall before, and she’s tried a number of things to keep her head straight on a lengthy trail. From reciting poems to singing in her head and even mentally writing letters to friends while she’s on the path, Briggs says there’s no single solution to staying inspired and continuing to push ahead.

“I’ve had runs where I’ve tried to dedicate each mile to a friend of mine and think about them,” adds Briggs. “Anything that can keep you excited partway through is a good idea.”

Lots of runners use technology to their advantage, listening to their favorite music or stopping at premier spots for that oh-so-gorgeous photo. Briggs notes, however, that if you choose to use technology, be courteous and smart about it, like moving off of the trail to take a photo.

“You might want to also think about staying unplugged,” adds Briggs. “Maybe not playing a bunch of music or facetiming your mom when you’re on the trail.”

While there is no doubt that staying motivated along the way can sometimes be just as daunting as the trail itself, Briggs says the most important thing is to remember “it’s just one foot in front of the other.”

Keep your expeditions fresh, interesting and full of enjoyment by finding the right mindset on the trail. Try out a few techniques to find out which one works best for you.