Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Reclaiming Your Motivation

by Jen Sommer, PCG Nutritionist 

Peaks Coaching Group Reclaiming Motivation Jen Sommer
Motivation at its highest: at the end of a race!
In every athlete’s life there are motivational ebbs and flows. It’s hard to be 100% into your sport all the time, so it’s natural to go through periods when you just can’t motivate yourself to get out the door. Winter can be a particularly hard time of year to keep your motivation up, especially if you live in a colder climate and work full time like I do. Not only that, but by wintertime most of the races you’ve been training for are over, giving your workouts a little less sense of purpose. The shorter days are brutal. It’s dark when you wake up, which makes an extra hour of sleep in a warm bed sound much better than a chilly, dark run or ride! Things aren’t much better when you get off work, as the sun is already setting and the temps are dropping. You might decide to move your workout indoors, but then there are the crowds at the gym to hassle with: parking lots with no empty spaces, equipment with waiting lines. No wonder your motivation is down! It’s kinda depressing, really. But it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom!

Here are my tips for reclaiming lost motivation:

1. It might sound counter-intuitive, but instead of fighting the loss of motivation, give in to it…but just a little. If you fight it too hard, you risk real burnout, so give your mind and body a break by scaling back for a week or two (or three). Sadly, you can lose a fair amount of fitness in two or three weeks of couch surfing, so don’t stop working out completely, but cut your volume down significantly (cutting it in half is okay). Focus on shorter, more intense workouts, as these will help you maintain your fitness best while scaling back. It’s also a lot easier to motivate yourself for a shorter workout.

2. Buy some fancy new duds. New shoes, a new shirt—even new socks can be motivating because you’ll want to try them out.

3. Update your playlist. The only time I ever get excited about going to the gym is when I have new music on my iPod to listen to as I trudge along on the treadmill. Download some new tunes or ask a friend to create a new workout playlist for you.

4. Join a club. Most bike shops and running apparel stores have clubs that do weekly runs or rides. You can also try a group. If that’s too much of a commitment, recruit a friend. You don’t have to rely solely on your own motivation; you can rely on the motivation of others! I can’t tell you how many early morning runs I wouldn’t have gone on if I hadn’t known there was a friend waiting to meet me for it.

5. Buy a magazine or book. I don’t think there’s any other time I’m more excited about all things outdoors than the day I crack open the new issue of Outside magazine. I am immediately inspired and ready to plan my next great adventure. So go pick up a magazine or book about your sport and get re-inspired.

6. Sign up for a winter race. Just because your traditional racing season is over doesn’t mean you have to stop racing altogether. Obviously you need some sort of an off season, but I find that my motivation to run or ride is much higher when I have a race to train for. It gives workouts a sense of purpose. Even in (sometimes) snowy Colorado, there are plenty of winter races, so get an epic winter race on your calendar. Then as you’re training, recite this Shalane Flanagan quote to yourself: “In the midst of an ordinary training day, I try to remind myself that I am preparing for the extraordinary.”

7. Hire a coach. It’s a pleasure to have your workouts perfectly planned and ready to go; no wondering about whether it’s the right workout or worrying about doing too much. A coach also makes you try harder during the workouts (because now someone is looking and you want to do your best). 

8. Try a new sport. Part of burnout is doing the same thing over and over again. If you’re a runner, try snowshoeing. If you’re a cyclist, try skate skiing. You might even end up being good enough to sign up for a race (see previous tip).

9. Invest in the appropriate gear. You’ll have fewer excuses to not get outside in the snow if you own the right winter gear. I found out last winter that when dressed appropriately, 12-degree runs aren’t that bad. Really! Neither is running in snow. It’s actually kind of fun; more like an adventure than a workout.

10. Remind yourself that you’ll feel better after the workout. It’s so simple, but it helps. The more you do it, the more you’ll believe it!

Good luck out there! Comment below to share how you keep your own motivation up.

Jen is a registered dietician, a certified specialist in sports dietetics, a former NASM certified personal trainer, and a self-appointed mountain girl. As a cyclist, skier, hiker, and runner (among other things), she knows firsthand the importance of proper nutrition and training. She offers nutrition coaching and consulting through Peaks Coaching Group.