Alright, so if anyone understands what it’s like to absolutely NOT WANT TO GO to the gym every once in a while, it’s me. I’m one of these people who is amazing at staying disciplined, as long as I’m on a roll. As soon as I take a day off, it’s all over… So what happens after my rest day? I sit around on the couch procrastinating and avoiding my next workout. Often, it takes me a full 2 rest days to actually want to get back to the gym. After one single day off, I always get a super terrible case of workout inertia… so I’ve developed a few strategies to help myself overcome it and get back on that roll.
1. Bargain with yourself. Promise yourself to get out the door and run at least one mile, or head to the gym and put in at least 20 minutes. Whatever your bare minimum is – something that doesn`t seem too intimidating so that you`ll be more likely get up and do it. For me, it`s either 20 minutes of cross training or my favorite 3 mile jogging loop. Walk or run, as long as I get out and do something, that`s better than nothing, isn`t it? And guess what? Once I’m at the gym, I almost always feel like doing a full workout after all. Sometimes the hardest part is just getting up and putting my running shoes on, but once I’m out the door, I’m back in the zone.
And that leads me to my next tip…
2. Put your workout gear on. After putting in upwards of 12 hours on my feet at work, once my shift is over, trust me, the last thing I want to do is get back on my feet and exercise. It helps a lot if I come home and change directly from my scrubs into my running shorts… otherwise, I end up in my pjs eating cereal for dinner and watching Harry Potter on my laptop. If I already have my workout outfit on, I’m one step closer to getting out the door. And there’s something psychological about it. Like, hey, guys, look how serious I am about running today. I have shorts on! There’s no turning back!
3. Develop a pre-workout routine. For some people it’s a pre-running snack, a stretching routine, or a pre-running playlist. Something that you do before every run, long or short, that gets you in the mood to exercise. It helps a lot when you’re really not feeling super energetic, because you can just turn off your brain, stop overthinking it, and commence the pre-run routine. One thing will lead to another, and you’ll be auto-piloting your body into running mode. One of my classic faves: Two eggs, one piece of toast, and a glass of milk. (Yes, I drink TONS of milk, especially when I’m super thirsty… I know it’s a little weird, people make fun of me all the time, but it works!)
4. Watch YouTube! Yes! YouTube workout videos are the best! There is just something about watching Floyd Mayweather training videos before heading to the gym and sweating it out in the ring. (Joe and I have seen pretty much every episode of HBO 24/7 about a million times.) Seeing someone else push themselves to the max while screaming “Hard work, dedication!” is extremely motivational. I also recommend watching strength training demos on YouTube before heading out for a strength day. I absolutely love learning new exercises, and watching other people do them makes me want to try them all immediately and start feeling that burn! All work is easy work!
5. Get a buddy! Even if this person doesn’t physically run every mile with you, get someone to help keep you accountable to your training goals. My husband knows what my goals are, and he works his training schedule around mine. It’s great, because we can cross train together on cross training days, and lift weights together on strength training days. (He hates running, but I am slowly converting him… more on that later.) It’s just extremely helpful to have someone else who believes in you when you feel like giving up.
5. Reward yourself! Joe and I love to cook huge, delicious meals after an intense boxing day. I love to come home after a long run, take a nice warm shower, and then curl up with a big comfy blanket and some good ol’ Netflix. I save my favorite songs for later in my running playlist as a little reward to myself as I get farther into my run. Little things like this make a big difference to me… Rewards are good. And sometimes knowing you’ve got a steak waiting for you after your workout is enough to get you off that couch!
7. Just do it. Guess what? Sometimes, running is tough. If it was easy, everyone in the world would be running marathons and it wouldn’t mean anything anymore. But let’s face it: Hard things make us better. Period. So when you really just don’t feel like it, do it anyway! You will discover that you can do it after all. Even if it sucks. Showing up is better than giving up. 20 minutes is better than 0 minutes. And at the end of the day, the workouts you will be most proud of will be the ones you didn’t feel like doing. Because you got off your butt, and did it anyway.
Having said that, I leave you with one very important reminder…
8. Do NOT feel guilty about taking a day off! Whatever you do, please, pu-LEASE do NOT ruin running by feeling bad about missing one workout here or there. Guys, this is supposed to be fun!! Sometimes, you actually need to rest more than you need to run. Maybe you promised yourself you’d do 20 minutes at the gym, and you could only squeak out 15… there’s probably a reason for that. It could be that a good night’s sleep, some quality time with friends or family, or even a night out on the town, is actually what you need. Life is about balance, and that probably means that you won’t work out 6 days per week every week until you die. So if you take a night off, enjoy it!!! Make the most of it so that the next day, you can pick up right where you left off, and not miss a beat. Your running fitness can survive one missed workout, and maybe you need to put that time into life/love/work/whatever else for a day.
And those are my pointers! Do you have any pearls of running wisdom that help you overcome your workout inertia?