10 things to tell yourself when you don’t feel like training
Everyone struggles for motivation sometimes. Here are some of the things I have found myself thinking about when I’m walking to the gym that always help me get in the mood to make a potentially lacklustre session into a positive one.
1. Live in the present
I always find it a bit cheesy when people go on about ‘taking care of today so tomorrow takes care of itself’- although I do generally agree. It sounds obvious but it’s not always that easy to achieve, what with daydreaming, hopes and future planning always getting in the way.
What I mean here is that when you train you get a chance to really perform this. When you’re in the middle of that last rep or running that last kilometre you need to have the skill to block out the thoughts of the relief when it’s over.
All you can do to complete is to focus on the here and now. Not only do I find that liberating, to be able to think of what is going on now and nothing else, you are really giving your all which will, as the saying goes, help the future take care of itself.
I look forward to this every session.
2. One specific goal of the session
Although I do maybe 4 or 5 different exercises each session I always have a specific, measurable goal to try and hit, even if I’m not following a strict planned training cycle.
Everything else is supplementary to it. For me with the weights it is usually a certain weight I want to do for a certain number of reps, at some point in the session.
Having a focal point that is measurable does wonders for my motivation. If I think about going to the gym but don’t have a goal like that in my head ‘training’ becomes just messing around with some iron, which is about as appealing as digging a hole just for the sake of it.
Pick something, like squatting that weight you’ve never done for more than 8 for 10, or doing 2 strict pull-ups, and visualise it.
3. Appreciate that you are even healthy enough to do this
Everyone takes their health for granted at times, but I find going to training a good time to remind myself that I’m lucky to be healthy enough to put myself through a workout, however tortuous.
In the same way that you only really consider the tone of your voice before doing a presentation, training can force you to look at your health and your body in a more considered way: I find it motivating to remember that I even have the opportunity to do this.
4. Think about that holiday
The more superficial triggers help just as much (or sometimes more), and I admit, upcoming events do sometimes help me get in the mood to exercise. Nothing wrong with it, use whatever it takes to get you ready.
5. Be aware of your body
What I really like about training is that it does make you aware of your physicality, something that can definitely be lost in today’s sitting-down, computer age.
As you go to and about your workout you can tick through different parts of your body and the way they feel- do you feel sore here or have a twinge there, or does this part of your back feel more solid that it did a few months ago?
You can even look at training as a development of your spatial awareness, and overall awareness of your extremities.
6. Think about how short your physical peak is
As I’m approaching what is medically defined as my physical peak I get a strong motivation from reminding myself that each session counts.
I know I’m not saving the world, but I do know that there will be all too soon a day when I realise I’m old- I don’t want to regret not trying to push myself or taking my youth for granted.
7. Appreciate that you have the leisure time to do this
It is actually a privilege to have the time, nutrition and money to put your body through the pain. Try and look at it that way!
8. Commend yourself for not taking the easy option
It’s definitely ok to pat yourself on the back for not copping out and taking the TV and pizza option after work. You can always do that once you get back anyway in which case you’ve turned it from a cop-out into a deserved reward.
9. That even this one session is more than many people can manage
One of my idols growing up was England rugby legend Jonny Wilkinson, and one of the things I liked best about him was his desire to do things others wouldn’t in order to be the best. If that meant hours of practice on Christmas Day when everyone else was stuffing themselves, even better.
I think sometimes it helps the motivation to think that by getting up and going to training you’re already doing what a lot of others can’t. You should feel empowered by that.
10. How you’ll always feel better once you’re finished.
At the end of the day, even if you don’t hit your numbers or you end up having a less than ideal session, or feel exhausted, once your breathing has evened you will always feel good about yourself in a way that you never could if you had just stayed at home.
It’s partly the endorphins, but I like to think it’s more the sense of accomplishment.
Consider this as you’re dragging your reluctant self to the park or to the gym. Now go crush it!