If you’ve been exercising regularly for any length of time you’ve surely had those days where you just weren’t motivated. Maybe you were tired, stressed or just feeling lazy. Today was one of those days for me.
When my alarm went off this morning at 6 am for my run, I just wanted to turn it off and go back to sleep. Instead I forced myself to get up and get ready for my run. I knew that once it was over I’d feel proud that I got out there when it would have been too easy not to.
I have a small arsenal of tricks that I use to motivate myself when I’m having days like this.
1. Turn some lights on! – Its hard to get going (especially early in the morning) if you try to get ready in the dark. I find it much easier to wake up and get motivated if I turn some lights on.
2. Think about others. – On days when I just can’t find my motivation I think of all the people that would love to be able to go out and run, but can’t for various reasons. I try to think of specific people I know or have seen in my life.
This morning I thought of the man I saw driving his electric wheelchair down the road yesterday. I bet he would have loved to be able to get up and run.
3. Think of motivational quotes. – One of my favorite ways to get motivated is thinking of motivational quotes. I usually like short quotes that are easy to remember that I can chant to myself.
One of my favorite quotes (I’m not even sure where I initially heard it) goes something like: There will come a day when you can no longer do this, today is not that day.
I also like: You’ll never regret a run, only a missed run.
Make a list of your favorite motivational quotes to read when you need inspiration.
4. Wear your favorite outfit. – Pretty self-explanatory. Wear something that makes you excited to get up and get going. Today I wore a new Bondi Band that I was excited about with a matching outfit.
5. Go to your favorite workout spot or do your favorite activity. – I never try a new running route when I’m really “not feeling it” that day. Some people may find that trying a new location keeps things interesting, and I love finding new places to run, but on days when I need that extra push to get out there I stick with the tried and true.
6. Have a back-up plan or the 5 minute rule. – Sometimes when I’m not feeling my best I tell myself “just do it for 5 minutes, if you still want to quit then you can”. When I finish that 5 minutes I tell myself, “come on, you can do 5 more!”. I have never quit a run after only 5 minutes when using this method. If you break your activity into 5 minute increments its much easier to mentally prepare yourself instead of saying “I’m going to run for 45 minutes”.
Some days I have to make a back-up plan. If I decide I just can’t follow through with my run I’ll commit to doing something else physical instead. I’ll do the elliptical at the gym and read a book, or I’ll take a spinning class.
Today my back-up plan was music. I’ve been trying some runs without my iPod lately. (More on that later) But today I took my iPod in the pocket of my water bottle just in case I needed to pull it out to get me through.
7. Reward yourself. – Think of a special way to reward yourself for completing your workout. My special reward this morning was a huge omelet!
8. Make it Fun. – Invite a friend to workout with. Make a new exciting playlist. Do something to make your dreaded workout fun.
9. Positive Visualization. – One thing I do when I hit a wall mid-run is to use positive visualization (along with chants) to get me through. I pretend that I am running in my first marathon and I imagine myself coming up on the finish line, finishing strong. I swear, it works.
10. Listen to your body. – Above all else it is important to listen to your body. There is a difference in pushing yourself past a mental barrier and pushing yourself to the point of injury. If your barrier is physical and you risk dehydration or injury by continuing, then by all means stop. If you are sore, sick or injured then take a rest day (or two). Let your body heal itself so that it can go the distance in the future.
What tricks do you use to help motivate yourself?