Personally I find an external motivator to be great incentive to keep up with an exercise regime. I wish I could say that I have all the internal motivation that I need in order to meet all of my goals, but unfortunately I don’t. Sometimes on days when I’m tempted to skip my planned workout, knowing that I’ll have to admit my failure aloud to someone else is usually enough incentive to push through.
I’m registered to run the San Francisco Half Marathon on July 31st and haven’t run consistently for months, so I need to begin training, um… Now! It just so happens that one of my best friends is training for the Death Ride (which I lovingly call The Ride of Death) a 129 mile bike race with 15,000 miles of climbing through the Sierra Nevada’s near Tahoe. Her race is July 9 and although we’re training for different types of races in different cities (she’s in Sacramento), she has been acting as an unofficial sponsor and motivator for my last-ditch training efforts.
Monday mornings I email her my proposed workouts for the week (subject to scheduling changes) and each morning I send her a confirmation of what I accomplished the previous day. I’m going to include various types of exercise in my training program in addition to running, specifically circuit training and Pilates.
Below is a draft of a proposed schedule for one of the weeks of training:
- Run to work (1.3 miles)
- Mini cardio session (2 miles stationary bike & 1 mile elliptical trainer)
- Pilates Mat class (5pm – 6pm)
- Jog to work
- 15 minute circuit training workout
- Run (pm)
- Walk to work
- High intensity interval training on the elliptical
- Pilates Mat class (5pm – 6pm)
- Yoga Flow (6pm – 7:15pm)
- Walk home
- Walk to work
- 25 minute circuit training workout
- Run (pm)
- Jog to work
- 15 minute circuit training workout
Saturday & Sunday – Rest & stretching (maybe a massage if I can be convincing enough) and long walks or a hike
Hooking up with a workout buddy who you can share your plans with or a like-minded friend who you may not workout with but who has similar goals, can be a great motivator.
If the idea of sharing your workout goals/plans with someone else isn’t appealing, or if you’re just getting started and want to hold off until you feel like you’ve made some progress, there are other external motivators that may help you when the odd lazy day rears its ugly head.
(1) A kick-ass play list can do wonders. Put a super charged playlist on your MP3 player or blare it over your computer/sound system. Everyone has their own style and different beats that get them pumped up, and I personally refresh my Nano weekly, but here are some artists/bands that never fail to get my heart rate going, regardless of my mood: Panic! at the Disco, Fall Out Boy, Chemical Romance, Finger Eleven, Breaking Benjamin, My Darkest Days, Jason Derulo, Lady Gaga, Bon Jovi, K$sha, Katy Perry, Beyonce, Sean Kingston.
(2) Sign yourself up for a class on a day when you don’t think that you can make yourself do a work out. You’ll feel guilty not showing up after having reserved a spot in the class and even guiltier when you see the charge on your credit card! The two days of the week that are the hardest for me to get off my booty are always Monday and Wednesday, so I’m getting into the habit of doing at least a Pilates class at Glow Yoga each of those days. And now that I’m getting to know the other students and the instructor, there’s even more motivation not to play hooky!
(3) If you have a movie or a book that you find extremely motivational, that can be a great way to get yourself going. If hearing Jillian’s commanding voice shoots you out of your seat, start your workouts with some Shred, even if you don’t plan to do the video it can give you the push you need. Personally I’ve found that popping in a dance DVD before my 5:30pm after-work runs or reading a few pages of Born To Run are a sure-fire way to get myself going.
(4) Finally, one of my favorite pieces to read when I need to stoke my motivational fires is The Better Man, about the (then) 75 year-old fitness guru & health nut Don Wildman (my friend Jim sent me this YEARS ago and I saved a PDF in case of emergencies). This always gives me the kick in the pants that I need to get off of the couch.
Good luck getting yourself onto the trail, treadmill or into the gym. Make me proud!
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