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Daily Archives: January 16, 2012

The Trick To Staying Motivated, In A Nut Shell

There is a trick to staying motivated, or more to the point, for pushing through the rough patches when I’d rather stay on the couch or worse.  The problem is that it is very simple and very easy.  It doesn’t take a whole book, or a magic pill.  To keep the suspense up though, I’ll get to the answer to the question, “What can keep me motivated” at the end.

First of all, if you’re looking for a cut and dry:  Do this and this and a little of that and you will be excited about [insert activity here] from now until you die of old age, you will be disappointed.  Mainly because a cure for laziness doesn’t exist but also because the answer would change from person to person and from time to time – so the only person I can really answer for is myself…  I am, after all, the only person on the planet whose shoes I’ve run in – and more than 5,000 miles at that.  With that, let us delve into the question of motivation full force.  For the sake of time, I’ll keep this to working out and staying fit, but this applies to everything I do.

While I said a cure for laziness doesn’t exist, there are a number of things that can be done to stop the progression of symptoms and thwart the problem.  The first is to form a habit, which takes about two weeks.  When I started doing push ups every day I had to make a conscious effort to get my sets in every day, no matter how busy I was.  I decided on mid morning, around 9 am, to start.  I’d do a set, then some work, another set and so on.  By the second week it was natural and a habit, it just became a part of my day.  Riding was a little different because I enjoy it so much and it relieves so much stress that I actually want to get out…so this doesn’t fall under needing to make it a habit (yet).

The next, and I’ve touched on this a number of times so I won’t bother with great detail, is to do your exercising in a regular group setting with as many friends as you can.  The running club that I belong to is the perfect example.  We help to provide motivation for each other. There is no way I’d have gotten to where I’m at, as quickly as I did, without that club.

Next is to convince yourself that you’ll die without it.  This takes a little work on that committee in your head but it works – I have used this to keep from drinking for darn near two decades.  For fitness, at least this year, I don’t have to go there too often because I have something to stay in shape for.  I’ve got a few tri’s and some long rides that I’ve got planned starting in late April – if I let anything slide I’ll be too out of shape to enjoy them and that’s its own motivation.  This technique is especially important as we get older, because it becomes much more real.

Finally, I have to change the tape.  The initial thought pops in my head that I don’t want to go for my run.  The committee gives me a bunch of phony reasons to stay home, it’s too cold out, it’s snowing, I’m getting over a cold, I’m tired, I don’t feel good, I feel good, it’s raining, it’s sunny, it’s too hot etc.  You get the idea.  Long about the time that second excuse pops into consciousness, I’m putting on my shoes and heading for the door.  I am literally choosing one of two paths:  The right path, running or the wrong path, sitting back down on the couch.  Don’t take any crap from the committee.  The only time I bow out is with a cold, driving rain (summertime rains, I’m running).

Right now I’m going through an affair, of sorts, with cycling.  I love everything about riding.  I like the speed on the road, I like the trails…I can’t wait for spring so I can get out again, and I might even get crazy and do some trail riding in the snow if I get to feeling too caged up by winter.  Riding takes zero motivation right now, but that won’t always be the case and that’s normal.

I could go on with little tips, and maybe I’ll post a few more from time to time, but let’s get to the skinny.  Fair warning:  This isn’t pretty and I’m not going to wrap it up in a bow either.  Getting fat is easier than working out.  That is a period at the end of the sentence.  I can’t always maintain my motivation – running is not always fun for me, in fact I hate it quite often…it’s those times that I have to push and I always feel better for it.  I get more of a sense of accomplishment from a slow 10 mile run that I didn’t want to do than from my fastest 10k.  Not because I did well, but because I did it in the first place – when I didn’t want to.  That’s the trick.

It has been my experience that it is not a matter of keeping your motivation, it’s a matter of pushing through those times when you don’t having any.  It’s not fair, it’s not pretty and there’s no comfort – until you hit your goal…  Of course then you have to maintain that, so the victory is short-lived.  Of course, all of those people who you look up to because you think they’re tougher than you or have more willpower than you…push through a “screw this” that lasts for two months.  Keep pushing, one day at a time, one run at a time, one ride at a time, one meal at a time.  Eventually you will be what you once looked up to.  And a lighter, fitter one at that.

When everything in your body says to stay in bed, that’s the time to get out.  The lighter side to this is to remember that when you don’t have any motivation;  this too shall pass.  It will come back.