‘Be True To Yourself’. It’s a simple little quote that stares at me every day, resting on my wrist Road ID. I’ve long believed that to do anything with your whole self, you should never stray too far from this motto. And while it sounds simple, I think sometimes can be more difficult than it seems.
Lately I’ve found myself thinking a lot about motivation. This is quite the buzz word lately; search #motivationmonday or similarly inspiring terms (#grit, #determination, #neverquit) and you’ll find a slew of hits. We live in a society that, through social media and the interwebs, can make it appear everyone is out crushing their dreams, all the time, every damn day. But let’s be honest. It all isn’t all as ‘real’ as it may appear. While these posts may encourage you at times, it doesn’t mean it’s always easy and it everyone is truly out there smashing all of their workouts. And don’t you find that some days, on matter how much inspiration you try to draw on, it’s just not there? You’re not motivated, no matter how many times you look at her incredible muscles and with the inspirational quote. And there isn’t always an apparent reason. I’ll find myself amid a few challenging days, expecting that I’m going to tank, but I’m just in a groove; feeling strong, day after day, excited for the sessions, eager to get after it. Then the long-awaited recovery period comes and I’m feeling sluggish to go out and do a nice, easy session that I’ve been looking forward to for days. Or the reverse; after some recovery time (often driving me stir crazy) I will feel lacking motivation when I get to the green light to “go” again. And I can’t help but think I’m not alone here. But it doesn’t make us bad when we feel this way; it makes us human. So, what can we do when our mojo is lacking? I’ve found over the years a few different approaches work to help get (or keep) you moving.
- Change it up. Maybe you have a tempo run scheduled, and you’re planning to go to your ‘usual’ spot for it. You know this trail so well; some days you love it (probably when you’re running fast), other days it’s your standard, reliable place of torture. It’s familiar, it’s a known quantity and you always go here to do these sessions. But you’re just not feeling it. You’re craving something different. Don’t be afraid to change it up. Maybe you take it to the hills; you adjust the intervals slightly, but you get the effort in. Perhaps you would rather hit the treadmill, just for a different challenge and change of atmosphere. Maybe your spouse is heading out for a long trail run with the dog…and well, that just sounds like fun. Sometimes, it’s okay to just go with what you’re craving on the day. Ideally you can still put the effort in that is required; or maybe you simply need to zone out, turn off the watch, and let your body dictate. Do it. Your schedule will still be sitting there the next day, waiting for you, with boxes to check off. Changing up one day isn’t going to make or break your season. If whatever you choose is going to get you out the door and excited to move, go for it.
- Live it up. You’ve got a long ride planned on your trusty steed, your time trial bike, this weekend. The schedule calls for a good 5 hours of in the saddle, which you usually go and do solo, focusing on your pacing, effort, and how many miles you can tick off. A group of friends are plotting a two-day trip in the mountains to go skiing. Damn, if I’m honest with myself…that sounds like a lot of fun. And I know it will be a killer workout. And it’s February. Stop rationalizing to yourself. Go skiing. You’ll have plenty more rides throughout the year, and it’s likely that the change in pace and slight break in structure will do you good. Perhaps you’re scheduled for a 2-hour run, but you’re dragging for motivation. Reach out to a friend; preferably a fun, active friend with a great attitude who you know is always up for adventure, and go hit up a couple of hours on the trails together. Recently Derick and I spent 3 days in Crested Butte, at a Ski Mountaineering Academy. Do I consider myself a mountaineer’er? Hell no! The thought of ‘racing’ on big cold mountains in unpredictable conditions in the middle of the night scares the heck out of me. But I love skiing. Skinning up, skiing downhill, cross country; I know I have a lot more to learn and I’ve always wanted to be a better all-around skier. So, we jumped on in. It was January; a great time to do a lot of base miles riding. But 3 days of wearing our asses out on ski’s (often skiing 4-6 hours each day), being sponges to the experts teaching us, being relative novices in something new, all the while getting to be active in the great outdoors? Absolutely!! Live it up. Opt for the adventurous route, every so often. Learn. Explore. Socialize. Laugh. Take it all in. Rejuvenate your soul. At some level, exercise is exercise.
- Suck it up. I will admit, this is probably the option that I go with the most. For as many years as I’ve been doing sport at a fairly high level, I’ve done more swims, bikes, and runs than I can count; tempo sessions, mile intervals, hills repeats, 100 mile rides, 20+ mile runs; you name it, I’ve probably done it (except 100x100s swimming; proud to say, I’ve avoided that one). And, suffice to say, I’m still doing it. But if I’m honest with you, I’m not stoked for every session. And while at times I will employ one of my other two recommendations, I most often go to this one. I just get my ass out the door (or to the pool, on the bike) and start moving. I ease in and let myself savor the joy of movement; remind myself that I’m lucky to be able to do it. I forgive myself if I feel like crap. Once I’m feeling warmed up, I start to focus on what needs to be done; the goal of the session, even if it’s an intimidating, challenging set. I digest it, mentally prepare, set aside any negativity, and I just dig in and go. What’s so funny about this option is, most of the time, I accomplish the goals of the session without issue. And only 10-15 minutes in, I forget that I was even lacking for motivation. I just start to get lost in, and embrace, the task at hand. And by the end of it, I feel accomplished, satisfied and proud to have completed it.
So the next time you find yourself struggling to get out the door, do a quick self-check and try to figure out why. Are you feeling a little bored with the regimen? Craving more of an adventure today? Are you overly tired? You know you can always put it off until later, but then we both know it’s likely not to happen at all. Try to stay true to your gut instinct. Do a quick assessment, and determine if it’s the kind of day you need to change it up, or just suck it up. Either option won’t make you less of a human being. But if you’re anything like me and being active is a choice, a way of life, and something you intend on doing for many more years it will benefit you in the long run if you stay true to your inner voice and trust yourself enough to adjust on the fly when needed. After all, variety is the spice of life. And whatever you choose, embrace your decision and don’t look back.
Change it up….
Live it up!
Suck it up… 🙂