As we close in on the third week of March, I wonder how many of us are still going strong on those New Year’s resolutions. I am not saying this as a “tisk-tisk” but as a fact of my life. It is so often that I have seen the gym become packed with new and ambitious members the first week after New Year. It is as often that I have seen it thin out in March. I am not immune to this same tapering off of motivation and focus on my goals. I have gone from running about four times per week and spinning once a week to running two times per week and spinning once per week (and some weeks not at all!). Sure, winter weather had something to do with it as I can’t stand running on a treadmill. But let’s be honest, we didn’t have much of a winter here in Toronto.
With two 10 km runs booked for April and May, I need to use the motivation techniques that work for me in order to stay focused.
When I am feeling lazy or even the opposite – completely swamped – I find myself making excuses to get out of running. When I find this happening, I visualize myself running. That’s what I’ve found works for me. You see, I actually really enjoy running, which is key for me being able to stick to an exercise program. I am so lucky that I live close to a running route that is filled with beautiful scenery. Why, during this week’s runs I saw swans, ducks, ponds, the lake and the Toronto skyline.
Picturing myself running alongside the rocky beach often gives me the push I need to get out the door. If this doesn’t work, then visualizing how great I will feel at the end of the run is another motivation trick I have up my sleeve.
I also find that just getting into my running gear is a great way to overcome a case of “The Lazies”. If I can just get into the dorky pants, hat, and runners, the rest seems to take care of itself. Of course, a motivating playlist is also part of my running gear.
Another technique I use is to think about all the ideas I have come up with while running. This is a great way to give myself permission to take time away from other priorities, and to get out for some exercise. During a run, I have been able to brainstorm solutions to problems and come up with creative ideas! Ideas that just weren’t flowing for me while staring at my computer screen trying to will the brilliance out of the recesses of my mind. It’s often when I am jogging along a beautiful path with a free mind that an “ah-ha!” moment happens for me. I come back to my work or personal project with inspiration and a renewed sense of excitement.
For me, having a system to track my progress is another big motivator. I personally use Nike + iPod to monitor my distance, speed and progress. I need to know how each run stacks up against the last. I also find that thinking about being able to share a new milestone reached or a nice photo from a run over Twitter or Facebook can give me the kick I need to run an extra kilometre or two.
It can be hard to stay positive when I’ve fallen off track. I start to think about how behind I have become on achieving my goals and fall into a further funk. When this happens, I have to remind myself that it only takes one session of exercise to “get back on track”. That first session back usually provides the motivation I need to keep going.
Exercise is such an important contributor to my physical and mental health. A good run is as soothing as a great conversation with a close friend (or therapist!). I am happier and find the ups and downs of life that much easier to handle after a spin around the lake.
What techniques do you use to stay motivated to work toward your goals?