Habits Over Motivation

Wanting to run/workout is one thing. Actually doing it sometimes takes more effort. What can you do to help it be more effortless and less like dragging yourself out of quicksand? Setting up habits that help it become a more automatic part of part of your routine can help.

  • Plan ahead: make an appointment with yourself in your diary or at least plan the most likely time for you to actually do the session. Whether that’s a morning or evening or weekend make sure it fits the times when you are less likely to be distracted by other things.

  • Get dressed for it: put your workout clothes on as soon as you wake up or finish work, even if you then have breakfast/dinner first, so that if you decide not to workout you would have to get changed again. Make it harder not to do the session.

  • Have a Plan B: give yourself two options, for example a 5km run OR a 3km walk, so that it’s not all or nothing. Even if you switch to the plan B option you have still done something. You might find that once you start walking you end up running anyway but even if not you’ve still completed some activity and get the feel good energy from that.

  • Free pass: once a week or fortnight give yourself permission to skip a session no questions asked but you can only use it once. Knowing you have that option available but placing limits on it might help you consider more carefully whether you really do want to skip ‘today’ or would rather still have the free pass available for later in the week.

  • Another way of looking at this is to aim for 80% not 100% each week. Better to get to 80% for a whole month than end up at 50%, 40%, 25%, 0% after getting stuck in that guilt spiral where feeling bad for missing one workout places more pressure on the next, which makes it less appealing and more likely to slip as well.

  • Be kind to yourself! If you feel bad for not running that’s a sign you ARE motivated you just need to figure out the right habit pattern for you. It’s a really individual thing so try out a routine for a couple of weeks, notice what worked and what didn’t, try again.

What habits or routines do you find helpful when the motivation starts to dip?

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