What Keeps You Going?

If you're like me, you sometimes don't feel like going to the gym or on a run.  What do you do to stay motivated?

For me, it's really a mind game.  For the most part, I'm lucky because I really do enjoy running and doing weights at the gym, but these last few weeks have been tough for me.  I'm so excited about all the exciting things happening in our lives that for a week or so, I wasn't sleeping much, then I've been trying to wrap a major project up at work, and finally, it's just been so hot outside which has forced me to run on the treadmill (which I'm not really a fan of doing).

Some things that motivate me and help me stick to a routine are below.

Think of exercise as something good, not just something you have to do.
We all have such busy lives and many times (if you think like I used to think), exercise is something you have to squeeze in.  When I changed my way of thinking, it helped.  Instead of one more thing I have to get done, I think of exercise as an investment that I'm making into myself.  I know that I have more energy, sleep better, am more productive, and feel better when I exercise daily (or almost daily - I usually take about two days off each week).  Why wouldn't I want to do something that makes me better?

Think about how much fun it isn't to get back into an exercise routine.
If I ever think about taking another day off when I know I need to exercise, I try to make myself think about how much fun I don't have getting back into a routine.  I like having that sore feeling from knowing I'm improving, but that's a totally different feeling from "I haven't worked out in two weeks and it's killing me!"

Think about how good you feel after a workout.
I love the way I feel after I've finished a workout.  It's a great feeling.  I think about it when I'm tempted to be lazy.

Set goals.
I aim to run 50 miles a month.  To some people, that's not much, but when you break it down, that's an average of 1.6 miles per day.  While that's nothing per day, I know that realistically, I'm not going to be able to run everyday.  I run 3-4 times per week and typically run no less than a 5K (3.1 miles) each time I run.

I also try to do weight training three times per week.  As a general rule of thumb, I go to the gym on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  It doesn't always happen, but that's what I try to stick to.

Determine when you'll workout.  
One of the first things I do when I sit down each Monday morning is look at my calendar (I'll be really happy when my new Erin Condren Life Planner arrives!).  I like to do this because I can pick out the days I know I'll be pushed to fit in a workout and I can mentally plan the days I'll go to the gym and do a longer run.  Though I don't schedule workout times in my planner, I do keep a record which brings me to my next point...

Keep a record of how you're doing.
At the bottom of each day on my calendar, I write in pink (yes, I color code and bright pink happens to be exercise!) the exercise I've done.  I keep track of mileage/time, what I've worked out (I use upper body, abs, butt (and to my mom who was surprised when she saw this word written on my calendar, it's much easier to write than gluteus maximus ;) ), and any extra ab work (100 twists with 10 lbs on bench) I've done.  I also have an Excel spreadsheet on my computer.  I'm not as good with keeping up with workouts on this as I am in my calendar, but it's a great way to track my mileage and pace.  My gym uses Fitlinxx equipment, so I also use the Fitlinxx website to keep track of things.

Listen to music.  
I don't always listen to music when I workout and run in the morning (I like the solitude sometimes), but if I'm  working out at night and especially when I'm on the treadmill, I can't make it without music.  I make specific playlists for working out and for some of my races that motivate me.  If I'm at the gym or on the treadmill, I shuffle, but if it's a race, I actually mentally go through my songs to make sure that I'm getting a motivating song when I need it.

If you'd like to see my tips on running, check out these links:
So You Want to Run
So You Want to Run: Favorite Gear
So You Want to Run: Exercise, Nutrition, and My Advice
So You Want to Run: Race Day