The Dishes Don’t Do Themselves….Nor Does Your Workout

Once upon a time I used to be a messy girl.  If you know me now this is hard to believe.  These days I love cleaning and can’t stand the bed not being made as soon as I get out in the morning or doing the dishes as soon as I am done with a meal.  But back in the day my bedroom at home was a disaster and I used to think my mom purposely made it a mess when I wasn’t there.  I hated cleaning anything and found it to be a huge chore.

And then I got my very own first apartment and things suddenly changed.  I quickly learned that when you are done with the dishes it is much easier to do them right away instead of letting them sit.  If you wait, it becomes mentally more tedious to get yourself to stand at the sink and take care of the issue and the longer you wait the harder the grime sets in.

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The same goes with exercise and running in particular.  The reason I bring this up is that the other day I was at the gym and after my nice little run I ended up in the locker room alone with a girl who was on her cell phone (which also is a huge pet peeve of mine….leave the phone for after the gym!).  This girl was young and she was complaining to whoever was on the other side of the line that she didn’t want to work out, so she was calling them to kill some time.  After the call ended she sat on a bench and played with her nails and stared at her phone.  Then she got up and got in her locker and put on lip gloss and then waited some more.

I couldn’t have been in the locker room for more than 15 minutes total, but she was there the whole time.  In my head I was thinking that had she just gone and done whatever she had to take care of for the day she would have been done with 15 minutes of her workout already.

As I have gotten older time has become more and more valuable to me.  And wasting time means less time at the end of the day to sit down and relax or to spend with my husband. Sure it makes me rush from one thing to another at times but it keeps me from dawdling in between tasks.

The truth is that I don’t always want to work out either and this is what I do for a living.  I coach runners and figure skaters and train athletes on a daily basis.  I live for exercise in all sorts of forms.  And some days it takes everything in me to go get a run in.  Sure I’d rather take a nap or sit on the couch and watch The Chew (ever notice my life also revolves around food?!).  But I also know that the longer I wait to do a workout, the harder it is to get started and the more precious time I have wasted.  Fortunately I also have a husband who trains athletes and is a runner and we often use each other to keep ourselves motivated.  On days when I don’t want to run he pushes me to get it over with.  Sometimes I might say I will do it later and he reminds me that later in the day I am dragging and it will just be more of a pain to get that run in.

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Like those dishes, running and exercise are much easier if you just get it over with when it is time to do it.  So what do you do when you don’t feel motivated?

Use the 5 minute rule.  Promise yourself that you just have to do 5 minutes and if it still stinks you can quit.  Odds are that once you get started you will just want to finish what you previously had planned.

Just put the clothes on and make them fun.  Have some workout clothes you love to wear.  If you feel good in them, it is a lot more fun to get started.  Once you make the effort to get dressed it is a lot easier to get out the door.

Find something you love.  If you enjoy a certain workout you are much more likely to do it.  Find a class you enjoy or an instructor that makes you look forward to going to the gym.

Mix it up.  When I have to hit the treadmill I always do intervals.  They make the workout go by much faster.  Doing intervals or fartlek workouts keeps your routine from getting stuck in a rut.  You can do this with just about any workout.

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What do you like to do to keep yourself motivated?

Just Get Out The Door!

The other day I wrote about how awesome it feels to come back from an injury.  Every run feels exciting and even the crappiest of weather is fantastic.

But the truth is not all of us are coming back from an injury (although from the comments I received you would certainly think it seems to be the case!).  Not all of us are just plain happy to be able to run again.  For most of us, running is a part of our lives, and hopefully a healthy habit.  Some of us have learned to love it, others have learned to tolerate it.  I know that for me, I tolerated it for a long time until I realized what a wonderful thing it was for me both mentally and physically.

Despite the fact that I love running, the truth is that I don’t always have that burning desire every day to go get a few miles in.  I typically run six days a week and take a nice and much needed rest day.  Some weeks I run five days and others might be less.  But running is a not only a passion for me but a part of my lifestyle.  I am a runner and much like other things in my life, I don’t always LIKE it.

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I’m sure you can understand that feeling.  Just like our partners or children, nieces or nephews, our jobs, or even dessert…I love them all but at times, I don’t always like them.  Seriously!  My husband is my best friend and my business partner, my running partner, and pretty much my life.  I love him more than anything, but at times I don’t always “like” him or necessarily what he is doing every single second.  And that is ok.  If I was crazy about him every moment of the day it would be super annoying for him and everyone else around us.

This is how my love for running is.  I love running.  I love how it makes me feel after I get a workout in.  I love how it made my legs look so toned and my abs have definition to them.  I love how sometimes my head is spinning with what seems like a million thoughts or concerns and a run helps me sort out my problems.

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But some days when I wake up, it takes me forever to get my butt out the door.  I take my sweet time and contemplate reasons to avoid doing it all together.  I whine about how I am lacking the motivation.  Sometimes I even take a nap, or heck I might even eat a cookie instead!

I learned something a long time ago about those sorts of days.  When I was young and figure skating I had those days from time to time.  I loved skating so much that I missed it on Sundays (my day off) enough to pick out an outfit for the next day and lay it out.  It was my life.  I moved away from home in high school and spent my time at a training center for figure skating.  I lived among skaters 24/7 and breathed everything about the sport.  Despite my passion, I had those days where I just wasn’t feeling it.   I used to feel really guilty about this.  How could I go from loving skating to dreading it some days?

I learned a great lesson from having those feelings.  Some of the best sessions I have ever had on the ice were on the days I just wasn’t feeling it.  Once I got my butt on the ice and started doing my routine, things just fell into place.  Half the battle, or maybe even 75% of the battle, was just getting my skates on.

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The same thing holds true to running.  Some days I just wake up and am not feeling it.  Once I finally put my shoes on and get out the door, it feels so much better.  In fact, some of my best runs come surprisingly from the ones that start with me dreading them in the first place.  My body knows what to do once I get out there and as soon as I turn the autopilot on everything else falls into place.  Whatever that funk was that was clouding my mind, the running clears it away and I feel so much better.  I might not even know this before I start, but the run was what I actually needed to get me going, lift my spirits, or just wipe the slate clean.

So if you are feeling like you are in this same unmotivated running funk, that is ok.  It is normal.  Just lace your shoes up.  Tell yourself you are just going to go run a few blocks and odds are you will come back a few miles later sweaty and refreshed.  Seriously, just get out the door!

 

A Room Full of Men in Tights

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“I’ve never been in a room full of so many men in tights,” my husband whispered to me on Saturday morning. No we weren’t at the Nutcracker. We were packed with about 100 other people at Fleet Feet in Chicago to hear esteemed writer and athlete Matt Fitzgerald speak about brain training. I had to chuckle. Almost everyone in the room (including us of course) was in running clothes. They had either run to the meeting or were running home after, heck some probably did both.  Who wouldn’t want to leave a toasty room to run 8 miles in 10 degree weather along Lake Michigan?!

First off I have to say that Matt Fitzgerald gave an excellent talk. He was very engaging and incredibly informative.

He spent the majority of the session discussing motivation and how it differs from discipline. Runners are pretty disciplined, but at times lack motivation. This time of the year is one of the hardest times for us to get motivated whether it be to go for a run or even the most simple workout. For most of us it is cold and dark out, and we are bogged down with our careers, family, and holiday craziness. It is often difficult to get the motivation to go for a run and rather easy to make excuses about why we can’t run in the first place.

Fitzgerald offered a few ideas for how to get yourself over the motivation hurdle and I would like to share a few that I found might be helpful for those of us needing a shove off of the couch and a kick out the door in the early morning hours.

Chose a goal and make it something that excites you.  All fall I had been “training” for a trail race after Thanksgiving with a few family members.  I wasn’t training for a PR or trying to hit any particular time, but I was training all the same so that I could make it through the race and feel a sense of accomplishment.  It made me want to get up in the morning and finish whatever runs or workouts I had planned for that day.

If you need motivation, go seek it out with some inspiration. There are a few running books and movies I have watched that made me feel like I was ready to take on the world. I watched “The Spirit of the Marathon” during my marathon training and I spent an entire 18 mile long run thinking about the movie and wondering/imagining what it would be like to have the film crew following me. After I finished Matt Long’s “The Long Run” I wanted more than ever to embrace my ability and love for running. I could go on for hours on this one, perhaps for another post.

Track your progress. I have gotten lazy in this department, but when I first ran I started keeping track of how many miles I ran each day and what other workouts I added. By keeping track of what you are doing, you are providing yourself with some feedback. When I started to see that I could do 3 miles consistently, it was easier to challenge myself to go to 5 miles and beyond.

And my favorite recommendation…buy something cool.  If you are lacking motivation, here is your excuse to say that all you need is that new running outfit you’ve had your eyes on. In all seriousness I think everyone can agree that sometimes having that new hat, jacket, pair of running tights, etc. has made your next few runs exciting and worth looking forward to. You could make it a double whammy and create a challenge for yourself, such as promising yourself that reflective running jacket you’ve been drooling over, if you run 4 days a week for a month.

We are all different and our reasons for lacking motivation are also different. Look within yourself and find creative ways to encourage yourself to get those runs in. Remind yourself of how great you will feel once you have gotten it over with and remember anything is better than nothing.

You can read about these and lots of other awesome running and training tips from Matt Fitzgerald’s books “Racing Weight”, “Iron War”, “The Runners Body”, and several others.