Can't get off the couch? Athlete's top tips for getting motivated to go for a run

Fans of pounding out their worries on the pavement are probably familiar with the old adage: "You only regret the runs you don't do". 

While that often rings true when endorphins are pumping and you're smugly checking your Apple Watch, sometimes it isn't quite enough to get you going when you're comfy on the couch watching Netflix. 

But countless studies have shown that exercise is beneficial to both physical and mental health. Research from Sport New Zealand shows that Kiwis who do moderate to vigorous exercise for at least 2.5 hours a week are 51 percent more likely to have healthier mental wellbeing. For those who exercise at least 4.5 hours per week, the odds increase to 65 percent. 

Ahead of World Mental Health day on Sunday, activewear brand New Balance is encouraging Kiwis to strengthen their mental and physical resolve by taking part in a 5km virtual run on the route of their choice.

If you're lacking in motivation, ambassador and ultra-endurance athlete Matt Fenn has some key words of advice. 

"I live by the term 'running gives us a sense of freedom in a time full of restriction'," says Fenn.

"Running for mental fitness provides a chance to forget daily stresses and relax into the present moment. 

"Challenging yourself to get out for a run, no matter how far or fast, gives you a sense of purpose and accomplishment that is difficult to achieve from anything else." 

Here are Fenn's top tips for staying motivated when you're in a staring war with your sneakers: 

Be consistent
Consistency is key. If you slowly build up and remain consistent, you'll find a love for running over time.  If you are struggling to find consistency, try planning out a weekly routine for your runs and block out times where you can get out for a jog. Creating a good routine is the most important thing you can do. Writing it down in a journal, a piece of paper or even on your phone is such a powerful way to keep yourself accountable.

Shift the success criteria 
If you are struggling to find motivation, remember that it is okay to tweak your goals. When motivation is lacking, it's important to take the pressure off and shift the success criteria. It is okay to run a shorter distance or for the pace to be a little slower - just aim for completing it. 

Get organised
It might sound silly, but sometimes the hardest part of any run is simply getting dressed! Not everyone is super motivated to jump out of bed in the morning so, make it as easy as possible for yourself. The night before a workout, get your clothes and shoes ready so you know you can be up and running in two minutes.

Phone a friend 
When all else fails, a running buddy might be the best way to get yourself out the door.  Running with a mate can help you get the most out of your run. If you're not feeling motivated, then hold yourself accountable by organising to run with a friend.

Chase that runners high
Stay motivated by thinking of the outcome... Runner's high can make runs feel easy, exhilarating and even euphoric. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn't, but it's something every runner starts to chase as there's no feeling quite like it. As you start to hit your stride, a rush of endorphins are released throughout your body which help you to perform at your very best. There's no rule book or secret trick, it's about finding what works for you so you can feel incredible!

Practice gratitude
Still struggling to find the motivation to get out for a run? Try practising gratitude, which can be good motivation when you don't feel like running. Running is the freedom to move, grow and be fast, and covering distance on your feet is a powerful thing. Not everyone has the luxury to go out for a run and reflecting on this can be helpful.

Warm-ups and cool-downs
Taking time to warm-up and cool-down may seem like even more work when you're trying to motivate yourself to get out for a run. However, adopting a routine that includes these two improves your athletic performance, helps with recovery, and prevents injury. 

Warm-up: Take 5-10 minutes to start out easy with a light walk or jog before tackling some big dynamic stretches such as leg swings, bodyweight squats and lunges. Once the heart rate is elevated and the blood's pumping, you'll be ready to hit the ground running.

Cool-downs are an essential recovery tool as they fast track our body into recovery mode. Just like the warm-up, take 5 minutes to slow down with a light walk before stopping for some light static stretches on the primary muscle groups you've just used. Focus on big deep breaths to increase oxygen uptake which will bring the heart rate down. This time can act as a reflection tool to acknowledge and be grateful for the time you've just given yourself to go for a run.