There are endless blogs, articles, and magazines that claim the most significant ways to keep yourself motivated when exercise gets boring. However, through all the research I’ve done, there are very few that have actually stuck with me. In 2015, Buzzfeed came out with an article called “29 Smart Ways to Motivate Yourself to Workout“. I was highly doubtful that all of these tactics would work so I put them to the test. Throughout the duration of the ENG304 course I’ve tried all 29 activities and here’s what I found to actually work:
Wash your hair only on days you work out. This is one of the biggest things I could do for myself. Not being able to shower until I exercised got gross. I began to look forward to showering much more and couldn’t wait for the next one… but that meant I needed to run first.
Put on your workout clothes. Forcing myself to go to the gym and just put on running clothes was enough for me. I felt pretty silly if I went in and changed and then changed right back out of the clothes. I’m already at the gym in my clothes… why not do the full workout and crank my music up & just get it done.
Write down how you feel after every workout. Remembering how it feels to achieve your goals when you feel like just laying on the couch is empowering. You tend to get little butterflies in your stomach while a smile plasters your face. You can attain that feeling again… if you just go out and run…
Remember why you started. Always remind yourself why you are running and what is in it for you. You trained hard to get to where you want to be. You can continue work towards your goals and succeed if you just don’t give up. Going for a run when all you want to do is sit in front of the TV separates mediocre runners from the best.
Try group fitness. I found that when I joined a group class and found friends that actually wanted to be at the classes, I found myself actually excited to exercise. I couldn’t wait till the next class and even joined more so that I wouldn’t have to wait a full week to go again.
Surround yourself with motivation. The picture on Buzzfeed had all these notepad stickies with some sort of motivational quote on it. So this is exactly how I went about it. I wrote out about 15 different stickies with sayings I liked and plastered them anywhere I normally go… especially places I go before a run or am contemplating a run (ie. my closet). That way, when I saw the stickies, I’d get a little boost of motivation to lace up my sneakers and get it done!
Give yourself micro-challenges. When I was trying to pick up my pace in my training runs, I used this to motivate myself to run just 3 minutes at this pace and then I could slow down, then another 3, and another 3, etc. I found myself running more and more of these and increased the time I ran at that pace until my training runs became at that pace consistently.
And give yourself longer-term challenges too. There is always a goal to work towards. This year I’d like to finally break my PR in the 5k during my last collegiate Cross Country season. I’d also like to go to the Regional meet and potentially place. Most often times, thinking about this gives me motivation to get the run done even when I don’t want to as I know it will all be worth it later.
Workout with people who will cheer you on. Running with someone that wants to see you succeed is huge. Using the buddy system is also a good idea… count on each other to actually get a run in. On the days you don’t feel like running, the partner can push you to get your sneakers on, and vice versa. Keep each other accountable and find someone that you can have a good time with. If you have a friend you can laugh and goof off with during the run, you are much less likely to associate the run as a negative and rather as a time to catch up.
Do it for the pictures. If nothing else works, run for a good Instagram picture. Run during the sunset or the sunrise to the beach or to the woods, wherever you can get an Insta-worthy snapshot. Though you are running for a non-traditional reason (that exercise is good for your body or you are working to reach a goal) it’s still getting you out to exercise. So hey, why not?
Think about how you’re sticking it to your doubters. People will tell you you can’t do this or that; that you can’t run a certain time or beat a specific person. There is bound to be someone like this in everyone’s lives. Sometimes you may even have more than one in your life at a time. However, the only person you need to please is yourself, and if they don’t approve, who cares. They don’t control who wins the race at the end of the day. The next person that tells you you can’t do something, have the guts to say, “Watch Me”.
Trick yourself into going longer miles. At times all you can do is bargain with yourself to at least do a few miles. Tell yourself, “I’m just going to run 3 miles out”. This doesn’t seem so bad when you think about it, however once your actually 3 miles out you realize you have to go back. There’s no other option than running back… so you might as well get a move on. By the end of the run you have 6 miles under your belt as opposed to the 3 you originally “agreed” to.
Challenge of the Day: Try at least one of these each week and see how they work for you. If you struggle to get a run in most days because you are constantly battling with yourself, it may be time to switch up your routine. Embrace trying new things and you may end up surprising yourself with the results at the end of your experimentation.
Keep on living your best life.