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Master Your Motivation
20 tools to help you get started and keep moving forward.
Every athlete will face a time when you don’t feel like lacing up for a long run, doing sprints in the pool, powering through an FTP test on the bike or lifting weights. Even athletes with the most intense desire will need to reach into their toolbox for extra motivation on occasion.
Different stages in your training or athletic journey will require different tools so having a variety to choose from is essential. I compiled a list of 20 effective ways to get and stay motivated that I’ve used in my own training or with my clients. I also included input from discussions with other athletes and coaches.
Admitting you lack motivation doesn’t make you weak. It shows that you are strong enough to look for a way to keep trying.
Input Positivity & Energy
1. Read inspirational quotes, mantras, aspirations or pump up posts. Find anything that creates a positive mood, lifts your spirits or makes you feel good about you and what you’re doing. My personal favorites are: Keep Moving Forward, Believe It Achieve It, Progress Not Perfection
Here a few that were shared by other athletes:
You are Strong. You are Worthy, You are Needed. ~Gloria H
You can do hard things…because you do it all the time. ~Marci G
Growth only happens when things are hard. ~Amy G
2. Pump up some high energy music. Choose something fast, loud or with an empowering message. Once you feel the beat your body will want to move. Feel free to sing out loud and have a dance party warmup!
3. Listen to a podcast. I like motivational podcasts before a workout so I can concentrate on the message. You can listen while you train to keep your mind active. Sarah @sarahrunstexas goes for True Crime Podcasts because “Potential ax murderers in the woods always help me pick up speed.”
4. Caffeine. Do you need your morning cup of joe? For Team B*REAL athlete Cheryl that means coffee with 2 shots of espresso. I don’t like coffee, so I grab a workout supplement with caffeine if I need a boost. Always put it in a mug that has a fun saying or you earned at an event.
5. Follow the Five Minute Rule: Thinking of skipping a workout? Promise yourself to give it 5 minutes. If you still want to stop then, allow yourself to stop. You’ll be surprised that once you’re 5 minutes in you’ll want to keep going. Shared by AJ @askwhatnext
Find The Fun
6. Celebrate Everything ! Remember having a sticker chart as a kid? It’s a useful tool because you feel immediate satisfaction for your effort that leads to a bigger reward at the end. Here’s how:
Grab a calendar and fun stickers.
Each day you work out, give yourself a sticker.
Reward yourself after earning a certain number of stickers or at the end of each week, month or training cycle.
Not into stickers? Cross off each day until you reach your reward.
7. Break out the fun training gear. This is my personal favorite way to bring the fun. Make sure to treat yourself to celebrate important achievements and milestones. Team B*REAL athlete Marci designed a custom tri kit to celebrate 20 years in endurance sports. How fun is that?
8. Make your own workout videos. My friend Cammie started making videos to motivate and inspire others and realized she was motivating herself. Follow her Instagram page (@mcphunt) and tag me so I can leave a positive comment and cheer you on!
9. Find a workout buddy. If you can’t meet in person send texts before and after to encourage each other.
10. Join a Team or Online Group. Connecting with other like minded athletes provides camaraderie and accountability. If you like to challenge yourself to achieve goals while cheering for your teammates in a judgment free zone, check out Team B*REAL. If you consider yourself more the type to workout for general health join the REAL VIP Wellness Community.
11. Hire a qualified coach. Prefect for when a workout buddy isn’t enough or you need someone to tell you what to do. A coach can provide training plans, accountability and motivation catered to your needs. Take time to interview coaches until you find one who understands your goals and you feel connected with. Book a free connection call with me to see if we’d be a good fit.
Have A Plan
12. Set a Goal. Start by registering for a race or challenge, aiming for a certain weekly distance or working towards a PR. Next set mini goals along the way and map out your daily training to make it happen.
13. Jason, founder of RunTriBike likes to reflect on the goal you’re working toward and ask if what you’re currently doing is getting you closer to the goal or if you’re just staying in the same place. You can always adjust your plan when it isn’t leading you towards your goal.
14. Develop a Routine. This can be as simple as setting up which days you’ll swim, bike, run and strength train or setting out your workout clothes the night before. Here’s an example pre-workout routine you can try:
Put on workout clothes
Prepare pre-workout meal
Read/listen to a motivational book/podcast
Write in your journal to celebrate your progress
Crank up your favorite song
15. Using Recovery Days Wisely. I agree with Adam from @lucid_motion_fitness on this one. Planning time to rest and recover means you will have more energy to show up and crush your workouts.
16. For longer indoor rides or runs, start in silence. Turning on music when you are an hour into a 2 hour ride can change the mood of the ride. I love this idea that John @veathlete shared because it creates an incentive to make it to a certain time and then gives you extra energy to complete the session.
Think It Through
17. My facebook friend Joan brought up the Self Determination Theory. I was first introduced to this concept studying for my Masters in Elementary Education and it proved to be quite effective in teaching confidence in 2nd graders. My very simplified summary is that you start with mostly external motivation factors (like ideas 1-16 in this post). As you commit to and achieve smaller goals, you develop competence which allows you to rely more on your internal motivation. Make sure to consider how you react to the impact of social and cultural inputs, always returning to your SELF and what is meaningful to you.
18. Remember your WHY. I love how Jill @jayjayjamieson said “you need to make it something bigger than yourself.” For example, go beyond saying “I want to complete a race or get faster or stronger.” Ask deeper questions to determine the underlying reason. Are you battling a medical diagnosis, setting an example for your children, or overcoming an emotional or physical challenge? You can also consider your WHY NOT – what would happen if you don’t follow through?
19. Make it a habit, a seamless part of your life, not a thing you have to force in. Great reminder by Jan @twowolvesunited. I like to think of my workouts like an opportunity to grow, learn and get better in some way. When it becomes a chore or feels like a burden, you’re less likely to continue.
20. Visualization: Imagine how you’ll feel afterwards. This simple reminder that when you’re done you’re going to feel so good about yourself always helps me push past the I don’t wanna’s.
I’d love to hear from you. Did you learn something to support where you are today? What would you add to this list? Be well and Be REAL.