Carrie at trail run on a cold day

Maybe I should just go back inside…

“I don’t want to workout today!”

This is the time of year when it sometimes becomes difficult to get your workouts in. When it’s cold and wet outside, you start to think that maybe it would be OK to skip your workout today. When you’re overbooked with obligations and holiday parties, the thought of getting up early or getting in your training after work feels like the last thing you want to do. Just scanning through some recent facebook and twitter posts  – I’ve read pleas from people asking for some inspiration for getting their workouts in.

I am not immune to those work-out sabotaging thoughts and feelings when it comes to wanting to skip a workout. Being an expert in this stuff, I have many tools in my belt that I can use to help me boost and sustain my motivation. I’m going to share with you two of the Mental Skills I use (and suggest to my athletes) that can help you get your workout in and feel good while you’re doing it.

Getting yourself to workout

It’s natural to have times when you don’t feel like working out. Sometimes that feeling is a message from your brain to your body letting you know that you need to take a break. But sometimes it’s your inner-toddler reacting to being overbooked that wants to stomp his or her feet and say “NO! I’m NOT going!” And let’s face it – sometimes we just want to be lazy. These last two are examples of times when you really need to mentally shift gears in order to get yourself motivated to go get in your training. When you have a workout planned and you start to feel the pull of not wanting to go – do this:

Spend some time visualizing yourself working out. Here are some of the elements you want to include:

  • See yourself getting dressed for your workout
  • See yourself leaving the house to go get in your workout
  • See yourself feeling strong and enjoying yourself during your workout 

When you see yourself doing these things in your mind first, you’re more likely to make them happen. If you have to get up early and get your workout in – take time to visualize before you fall asleep. If you plan to head out after a long day at work – take time during your work day to visualize. When you take this small step, you’ve already mentally mapped it out. You’ve created a stronger neural pathway to reinforce the behavior you want when it actually comes time to chose whether or not you are will go work out. Try it and then come back and tell me how it went! I swear you’l be amazed.

Enjoying your workout

So you got yourself out the door and you’re working out – but now you’re dragging your feet and feeling like you wish you had just stayed home. During those moments when you’re working hard and the effort you’re exerting feels like it’s more than you can handle, try this:

In that moment when you’re suffering, visualize yourself accomplishing your ultimate goal. When you feel like you want to quit, see yourself actually doing what you’re training for.

For me, the picture I go to in my mind when I’m running and I want to stop, is seeing myself snowboarding. I see myself flying down the mountain feeling strong. When I run this movie in my mind, I immediately feel better. My entire attitude (and pain tolerance) changes in that one moment. I know that there is a purpose to what I’m doing and that there is absolutely no where else I would rather be than right here, making myself stronger so I can make a live version of that movie.

When you do this, you base your immediate decision on what you really value versus what you want right now.

Two simple steps that increase the odds that you’ll get out the door and feel better when you do.

And really… do you ever regret getting your workout in? 🙂