Do you ever have trouble just “getting out there”?
You know that once your legs start moving the endorphins will kick in and by the time you’ve finished running it will seem inconceivable that you even considered not going…but the problem is those moments before the run where you have a CHOICE.
It’s been 4,681 days or 12 years, 9 months and 23 days since I crossed the finish line of my very first race, the Nashville Rock N Roll Half Marathon. It’s quite likely at some point in that time frame, I’ve found myself thinking “I should…but…ugh“.
And yet as long time readers know, I’ve averaged around 1600 miles a year since then, which means more than anything I’ve found the golden ticket to just getting it done! Here are a few techniques that will get you out the door more often and prevent motivation slumps:
#1 DEVELOP A ROUTINE
I rely on one hugely important factor: habits.
When you just don’t feel like working out, your habits kick in to eliminate the need to make a decision. It’s something just you’re going to do because your subconscious tells you to!
You have this things that called triggers and what I call pre-routines that actually tell your brain something is about to happen.
For me every morning when I get up, I immediately do the following:
- pull on my running gear
- grab my little shaker cup, put in some Vega Pre-Workout, Athletic Greens, BCAA’s and drink up
Not only am I getting hydrated, but it’s a pre-routine that primes my brain for exactly what’s about to happen. It doesn’t matter if I am actually planning to work-out or not. I literally do that every single day; it’s just part of what I do.
That pre-routine, shifts my brain and body into workout mode. This makes the next step of getting started easier! Not only does my brain already know what will happen, but our bodies actually begin producing hormones and increasing blood flow in response to this ready to go signal.
Pick two things that naturally link to each other:
- After work you immediately put on your running gear
- Your running shoes are next to your bed to put on the in morning
- After finishing your morning coffee, you stretch
- Each time you brush your teeth you sit and meditate for 4 minutes
See they work for anything and don’t need to be complex! Just pick something you already do every single day and start using it as a trigger for the action you want to take.
STEP TWO: EASE IN
After getting your pre-routine in place, give yourself an EASY next step. Instead of going from drink my shake to RUN, I just think about the warm up!
I walk for a half mile before I ever start running. Every.Single.Time. 12 years every single run, I walk for a half mile and then I start doing my dynamic stretches because it let’s me gauge how my body feels and it gets me moving without requiring intense effort to start. (Read all about why the warm up is key)
There are days I start walking and end up realizing “today I’m just gonna enjoy a walk, because that is all there is in this body today and that’s okay.” I probably wouldn’t have even gotten in a walk if I hadn’t started with the pre-routine.
When we’re first starting a work-out program or when you’re in a middle of marathon training, fatigue and losing sight of the bigger goal happens to EVERYONE! So get yourself into routine! It’s one of the key ways you’ll overcome days of lower motivation.What to do when you're completely unmotivated to train #runchat Click To Tweet
The pre-routine and second step to ease in, ares habits which tell your brain “hey every time I do X it’s followed by Y“. I love, love, love this, the science behind this fascinates me!
If you work-out at the same time of day consistently your body starts to prepare in advance for that work-out. It increases blood flow, it increases metabolism, and so now you’re burning more calories just because you work-out at the same time every single day, because your body starts preparing for it in advance of the work-out, that’s pretty freaking phenomenal.
Life is a constant balance between giving into the ease of distraction or overcoming the pain of discipline. It is not an exaggeration to say that our lives and our identities are defined in this delicate balance. What is life, if not the sum of a hundred thousand daily battles and tiny decisions to either gut it out or give it up?
This moment when you don’t feel like doing the work? This is not a moment to be thrown away. This is not a dress rehearsal. This moment is your life as much as any other moment. Spend it in a way that will make you proud. James Clear
Of course I focused on getting you running, but this works in EVERY area of life!!
People frequently ask me how I get so much done each day because yup I travel, I work two full time jobs and I never miss a run.
I have created habits that I do every single day and it just feels weird if I skip them. Those little things, those pre-routines lead into the bigger habits to actually get the things done.
I wanna introduce to you one of my favorite words “Grit”.Have you heard of this idea? I know it sounds like something you find on a country road, but no, Grit is this idea of sticktuitiveness. It’s this idea of pushing through when things are a little bit tough and I think runners are gritty people.
We push through all the time.
We push through runs that are tough.
We push through getting up ridiculously early in the morning.
We push through crazy bad weather.
We push through miles that feel never ending.
We push through that last interval.
We push through a little more pain than we should.
I like identifying as a gritty runner. Which is the key! Much like a MANTRA find a word that resonates within you. A word you want to embody…then make the choices that would have you live up to it.
You can’t become committed or consistent with a weak mind. How many workouts have you missed because your mind, not your body, told you you were tired? How many reps have you missed out on because your mind said, “Nine reps is enough. Don’t worry about the tenth.” Probably thousands for most people, including myself. And 99% are due to weakness of the mind, not the body.
Remember all of the other really hard things you’ve done in your life! We have all done hard things and we’ve all come out the other side (don’t compare your hard to anyone else!)
When you have one of those totally, completely unmotivated days days, think about the really hard thing you made that through and remember “if I could do that“:
- I could do this for just 5 minutes.
- I could skip the pizza for just to this Friday and have a salad.
- I could get up just today at 5:30 to get in my workout
#3 CHUNK IT DOWN
You don’t have to do it EVERY day or forever or even for an hour if it sounds like too much.
Peering in to the future, instead of focusing on one work-out or one meal can be terrifying! We’re looking at a whole lifetime and mentally squeezing it in to one day.Stop thinking about skipping dessert for the rest of your life, just chose to skip it tonight.
Stop thinking about Saturday’s long run during Thursday’s speed work, just do what’s in front of you.
Stop thinking about all 10 intervals and just do the one you’re in.
It’s sounds TOO HARD when you look at the whole picture rather than the next step.
“I can do it for just this one, this one alone is not a big deal.” Chunk it down, give your brain something manageable to hold on to and then start that pre-routine and let everything else take over.
You just get that one step going, which triggers your brain/body to move and then focus on the single next step.How to get motivated when you just don't feel like working out #fitness Click To Tweet
#4 TAKE A DAY OFF
At the end of the day, if none of that is working, you might just need a damn day-off.
As a coach, I see this frequently in my dedicated athletes who trust the plans I give them and thus feel tremendous amounts of guilt for even considering a day off…and so they forge ahead. Until I tell them a day off is the best solution!
Sometimes the reason you can’t get motivated for that work-out is you’re physically trashed. You burned the candle at both ends between work, home, life, running, and whatever else may be on your plate.
Of course too many days off is a different problem…in fact probably the reason that you’re reading this! So remember the day off is the solution after many tired runs strung together and a sincere lack of desire or even belief that you’ll feel better for running.
What habits keep you on track?
How do you stay motivated?
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