You know you need to workout today. That’s what you keep telling yourself.
But no matter how much your brain screams internally to move, your body rebels and remains frozen in place.
And it’s a common problem athletes face.
So how do we pierce through this massive resistance even though we know better?
If you’re not feeling any of it, you’ll learn a few simple strategies in this motivation guide that will reignite your good intentions.
First, rule out any of these
Are you discouraged by your lack of progress?
Are your training sessions unreasonably hard? Experiencing irritation and fatigue? While this post centers around running burnout, these tips are also useful to cyclists and triathletes.
The motivation guide to make working out a no-brainer
Creating a habit overrides your brain’s resistance to working out by forming a bias for action.
Anyone can build new habits and disrupt old ones.
In the book Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg writes,
Studies of people who have successfully started new exercise routines show they are more likely to stick with a workout plan if they choose a specific cue, such as running as soon as they get home from work, and a clear reward, such as beer or an evening of guilt-free tv.”
In another study, researchers discovered that individuals ran or lifted weights regularly because they wanted to do so, or to manage stress.
These new runners and lifters continued with their exercise routine because they enjoyed the rewards – the endorphins, a sense of accomplishment – which were compelling enough to make exercise a habit.
Motivation guide tip: Choose a cue and a reward to create a new habit.
The motivation guide to staying on track
Willpower requires ignoring ruinous short-term temptations for long-term goals.
Willpower is like a muscle – build it up to gain strength, improve impulse control, and sharpen your focus on a goal. But every time we use our willpower, we have a little less of it to resist other indulgences.
So what do you do when willpower disappears?
Plan and solve your biggest obstacles ahead of time. You’ll get back on track faster when you plan for your temptations.
Tempted to check social media before working out? Plan to turn off all alerts so you can focus on getting and staying fit.
Then, continue to follow your plan when you’re faced with your biggest temptation and practice until the behavior becomes automatic.
It’s how your willpower evolves into a habit.
But don’t get too hard on yourself if you slip up. Instead, give into it and indulge for a bit. If you distract yourself with watching tv (or everything else) before a hard interval session, set a timer for fifteen minutes, then head out the door.
Motivation guide tip: Plan for when your willpower is at its weakest and how you’ll recover to stay in control.
Want to get faster? Slow down.
Timer’s up and you still just…can’t?
This wall of resistance is tough to shatter.
So what next?
Any time you’re avoiding your workout, move at a snail’s pace. This loosens the grip of procrastination with forward, albeit slow, momentum.
Motivation guide tip: Feeling a ton of resistance? Move even slower.
Putting it all together
If you want to establish consistency and create a habit of working out, choose one simple visual cue. It could be anything from glancing at your fitness gear to a specific time such as before lunch or after work.
Then, reinforce your habit by identifying a reward that satisfies a deep craving. What do you crave? Do you crave an afternoon latte? Or perhaps the thrill of accomplishment after a workout?
You’ll soon develop an intense craving for the reward – the afternoon coffee, or the endorphins – that you’ll automatically want to satisfy.
The road to creating a habit isn’t easy. It takes time, experimentation, and even a few failures. But, drafting a plan for when your willpower will be at its weakest will help you stick to an emerging habit.
And if it’s all too much?
Take one little step at a time…baby steps out the door.”
What About Bob?
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The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg
What You Need to Know about Willpower: The Psychological Science of Self-Control, American Psychological Association