Get Motivated, Get Moving!
20 Ideas to help get you, and keep you, motivated to train.
After a year of cancelled events, a dark, wet winter, a new lockdown coming into force and a lot of uncertainty about how the next year will unfold, you would definitely be forgiven for lacking a bit of motivation to get back to fitness training! When you fall out of an exercise routine, due to illness or injury or disruption from things going on in life, it can be hard to get moving again. Motivation rarely just comes along by itself, but you can make it happen! By taking some small steps, you can get started down the road to positive change…
Here are 20 ideas that can help keep get you and keep you motivated through the winter months (or at any time of year!):
1. Your goal is YOURS!
It doesn’t matter what your goal is, it could be an Ironman or to run your first 5km. Everyone’s goals are relative to their experience and fitness level right now, so never compare yourself or your goal to anyone else! Social media can be a great source of inspiration but it can also be very destructive and demoralising if you spend too much time looking at fitness influencers, so turn it off and focus on your-wonderful-self and getting to where YOU want to be!
2. Plan your goals
If this is not your first year planning to get fit or take part in an event, think about your past achievements and training. What did you enjoy? What worked well? What can you improve on or do differently? What do you want to achieve this year? Which races do you want to enter? Write out your plan and schedule in dates to achieve your milestone goals, pin them up where you will see them regularly to remind yourself what you are working towards and by when.
Keep things simple and make sure that your goals are going to be challenging enough to keep you interested but also are achievable from your starting point and with the amount of time you can afford to dedicate to your training. It becomes very demoralising if you set yourself goals that are too ambitious and you fail reach them. Far better to take little steps and celebrate every time you progress towards a bigger goal, even if that takes you a bit longer.
3. Make working out a habit
You don’t need much motivation once you’ve started a behaviour. The hardest part of starting a task is at the beginning! After you start, progress occurs more naturally. In other words, it is often easier to finish a task than it was to start it in the first place. Thus, one of the keys to getting motivated is to make it easy to start! Make your training plan smart, simple, achievable and give yourself a schedule.
It can take a long time and a lot of effort for something to become a habit, but the more consistent you are, the more likely you are to keep up with your plan. You will even get to a point when you really start to love training and will miss it when you take time out from it! Once you have trained consistently for a few weeks, you will feel a difference, and see the benefits as your strength and fitness increases. These positive results will naturally give you more motivation to continue!
4. Set a daily schedule
If your workout doesn’t have a time when it usually occurs, then each day you’ll wake up thinking, “I hope I feel motivated to exercise today.” Setting a schedule for yourself puts your decision-making on autopilot by giving your goals a time and a place to happen. It makes it more likely that you will follow through regardless of your motivation levels, instead of procrastinating all day until you’ve left it too late!
Having a ritual removes the need to make a decision: What should I do first? When should I do this? How should I do this? A lot of people never get moving because they can’t decide how to get started! Your training plan need to be simple and automatic so you have the mental strength to finish it when it becomes difficult and challenging. If you are inexperienced at making a plan it could be worth looking for plans or courses online or at taking to a coach (see below!)
5. Get some coaching
A coach will help to plan your time smartly, timetable your training with your race goals in mind and offer support, advice and motivation thought any tough times. It also help to have someone to be answerable too, plus if you are paying for the service you are more likely to make the most of it. Alternatively you could join a gym (when restrictions allow) where you will receive training on how to use the equipment and guidance when you need it. You can also find ready made training plans online to download but getting a personalised plan based your individual aspirations, ability and time available is always best.
6. Join a group
Join a club, Facebook group or look for a group or charity challenge to take part in – having others to encourage you and support you will give you a lot of the motivation you need. When you get in a slump it can be really great to have a peer group to ask for advice.
7. Enter a virtual event
There are loads of great virtual events available now with plenty of distance and activity options available. If the promise of a bit of bling at the end of a race/event motivates you then these can be a great option to keep you training! Some also have social media groups you can join to find some peer support.
Check out our virtual Swim Yourself Happy challenge!
8. Find a race to enter
Nothing helps to focus your training more than a race in the diary! As well as your main race you could schedule in a fun and achievable event early in the season to get you motivated and give you something to work towards. This can be part of your training for a bigger event later on in the season too.
9. Try something new
Winter time, when far fewer races and events are taking place, is the time to do something different whilst still keeping you fit. Try something new and fun. If you take some time out from your usual activities now it will stop you getting bored and you may find your enthusiasm is refreshed when you return to it!
10. Add some strength and conditioning work
Building strength will make you faster and help avoid injury, plus increasing muscle mass increases you metabolism helping you to stay slimmer. Now is a great time to focus on building strength and flexibility into your fitness plan. You don’t need a gym or even much equipment at home, there are plenty of body weight exercises you can do to build your upper, lower and core body strength. Exercise bands are an inexpensive and easy to store option. There are loads of great free strength and yoga workouts to be found online.
11. Treat yourself
Investing in some new kit makes you want to get out and wear/use it, so treat yourself to something new (or secondhand!) to give you some motivation. It does not have to be expensive – a new top, pair of gloves or hat will do!
12. Get outdoors when you can
Make the most of any dry days, get outside in the fresh air and have fun! Being outdoors and getting into nature is scientifically proven to have many heath and mental benefits including, boosting energy and the immune system, increasing positivity and wellbeing and natural daylight reduces seasonal affective disorder and helps to give you a dose of vitamin D.
Embrace the cold, wrap up warm and try training somewhere new – get out a map and check out new paths, try going off road if you haven’t been trail running before (make sure you’ve got some good grippy shoes). Can’t read a map? Now is a great time to start learning!
13. Train indoors when the weather is nasty
When it’s lashing down or blowing a gale and you just can’t face the cold, there are lots of ways that you can train indoors at home. Online classes, Youtube videos, strength training (loads of free session ideas on the internet and on social media), yoga, HITT sessions, workout apps, treadmill or indoor bike if you have one, skipping, dancing etc. You can always something at home that will help you work towards your fitness goals.
14. Reward yourself
Make a plan and when you reach certain milestones give yourself a reward. It might be ticking off 5 training sessions and earning a slice of your favourite cake, or getting to the end of the month and treating yourself to some new trainers or a swimming costume. Whatever it is, it’s always good motivation to know that you’ll earn something you’ll love if you put in the hard work!
15. Find a training buddy
Agreeing to meet someone for a work out, in person or on Zoom, is great motivation to get yourself moving as it’s hard to let them down. When you have a friend to train with regularly you will boost each others motivation by supporting and encouraging each other though the hard times. You’ll each be feeling stronger at different times and will be able to pass that enthusiasm and inspire each other to keep going. Signing up to a race together can give you a common goal to work towards. Swimrun a great sport to try out with a friend as you can compete as a team!
16. Go public with your goal & do something good!
If you are brave enough, committing to your end goal publicly is a big motivator to make sure you achieve it! Even better, make raising money for a charity your really believe in part of the process and you’ll feel you have to finish, no matter what! No one want to flunk in front of others or feel they are letting anyone down and wanting to avoid this helps you to dig extra deep! We will all go the extra mile to do something we’ve announced publicly. Posting about your progress on social media will also help motivate you as people will offer you a lot of support and encouragement in return.
17. Be kind to yourself
Realise that motivation is not a constant thing. It will come and go. But if you understand that while you may find getting motivated to exercise hard sometimes, it isn’t permanent and the buzz and joy you get from training will come back. Just stick it out and wait for that motivation to return. In the meantime, focus on your positive achievements so far and remind yourself of your goal and why you want to reach it. Give yourself rewards, ask for support, and do some of the other things listed above until you are back on track. If you really need a day off, take it and enjoy it, but try to get back to your plan as soon as you can. The longer you take off the harder it will be to start again!
18. Stick with it.
Whatever you do, don’t give up! Even if you aren’t feeling very motivated today, or this week, don’t give up. It will come back! Think of your goal as a long journey, and your slump is just a little bump in the road. You can’t give up at every hill! Stick with it for the long term, the ups and the downs, and you’ll get the results you planned!
19. Remember, you never regret a good work out once it’s done!
Even when I have really struggled with motivation, tiredness or injury, I have never found myself feeling worse after the hard work was done! There have been days when it was damn hard to start, but it was always worth getting my butt moving because sometimes, the simple act of showing up and having the courage to try, even in an average manner, is a victory worth celebrating!
Any kind of movement gets your heart pumping and your blood flowing and this will begin to make you feel more energised and motivated. Physical activity releases feel-good hormones (endorphins) that make you feel better in yourself and cortisol which helps us manage stress. You always feel happier and more relaxed after a workout and you’ll have a real sense of achievement and a boost in self esteem.
20. Believe in yourself!
You can do this! I know you can, so tell yourself you can too. It works for me! Especially when I am tired and in the middle of something that I’m finding really hard, like a technical climb on the mountain bike or a big hill on a run, I say out loud, ‘Come on Chloe, you CAN do this!’ and somehow it helps to get me to the top! It might sound silly but telling yourself out loud ‘You can do this’ really does motivate you!
YOU CAN DO THIS!
Start now, enjoy your training journey and best of luck!
Written by Chloë, Owner and director of Love SwimRum, STA Open Water Swimming Coach & Welsh Athletics Running Leader. 06/01/2021