If your motivation dragged this winter, you can recapture your exercise mojo just in time for spring.
I know you know about the hump. It’s that invisible barrier to motivation, intangible yet as tough to penetrate as your average brick wall. On one side of the hump sits your lazy self, reminiscing on days gone by when you were fitter and faster than ever. On the other side is the promise of your tight, toned and perfectly trained self. Yet no matter how much you long to reclaim your get-up-and-go, you can’t quite bust through that barricade of inaction, back to the you that rarely went a day without indulging your exercise addiction.
Ever since I moved from the California coast to Colorado’s mountain climate, I’ve experienced the hump annually. In the earliest chill of winter I get excited to don my cold-weather duds, invigorated by the sharp shards of frozen air I suck into my lungs. The change in seasons—something I hadn’t experienced since high school—still enthralls me. Swimming outside while snowflakes fall? That makes for serious bragging rights for this longtime California girl. I don’t even mind long hours on the treadmill or bike trainer when it’s too darn cold to head outdoors, especially when I can watch a blustery storm brew right beyond the window. There’s an oddly appealing drama to the drudgery, so even deep into December my training doesn’t suffer much.
Then come the holidays, when schedules are tough to keep and cookies are even tougher to avoid. But everyone needs an off-season, so I happily let myself slide. I lounge late into the morning by the fire, I opt for a latté over a long run and I blow off my beloved Masters sessions once, twice, even three times a week. Thirty minutes on the treadmill starts to feel tedious—instead I seek shelter in the steam room. I tell myself I need this break, a chance to refresh both my muscles and my mojo. I swear I’ll be super-motivated soon enough, attacking sessions with renewed zest. Inevitably, “soon enough” morphs into “sometime next month.” Winter drags on, I get sucked deeper and deeper into sluggishness and the hump looms large.
I know that paltry motivation plagues everyone at some point—or so I console myself as I struggle to do battle against the hump. I also know that once I’ve firmly logged a few weeks of training, the hump will fade. All it takes is the right source of motivation to get back on track to feeling fabulous, and the key is finding yours. Sometimes the obvious inspirations (readying for a race, improving your health, bidding bye-bye to your muffin top) are not enough. So if you, too, need an extra bit of oomph, I’m happy to share these tried and true hump-busters:
Make ’em proud. Think about your upcoming “A” race. Not the course itself, but rather who will be on hand to cheer. Will your family of five schlep along in support of your Ironman? That’s motivation enough to trudge through those six-hour bricks and arrive to the start in top form. Or twist your fitness into a form of payback. Might your ex-girlfriend attend the race? Leave her longing to embrace you at the finish line, serving up revenge via your hot, sweaty six-pack.
Do unto others. Ever notice that people on their way into the gym are far less friendly than people on their way out? They’re stressed and grumpy, rushing to fit training into a tight lunch hour or seeking a sanity break from screaming kids. Yet post-exercise they’re in an endorphin-filled bubble of bliss. Consider training a charitable act. If you can’t get off your duff for your own good, do it for others. You will be a better person—a better spouse, parent, colleague and friend—once you brave that caloric burn.
Let’s make a deal. I remember one of my seventh-grade soccer games when I was sidelined while my team took a beating. I bet my coach a quarter I would get us a goal if he let me play, so he made the sub. Sure enough, I scored—twice! My gamble was hardly high-stakes—I netted a whopping 50 cents. But the thrill of a wager, no matter how minor, is enough to get me out the door most days. Bet on yourself and let the winning begin.
Plan a play date. Last year a friend and I had a long, hard look in a three-way mirror and decided our booties needed boosting. Thus the Trunk Junk Project was born—a wintertime plan to regularly attend spin classes followed by butt-squeezing sessions of squats and lifts. Unfortunately the Trunk Junk Project only lasted a few weeks—both our schedules changed and our meet-up plans went out the window. But even though my booty never fully firmed into the perky shelf I would prefer, our month of play dates was perfectly timed with the end of an eternal-seeming winter, thus getting us both over the worst of the hump.
Get it on. It’s often said that triathletes don’t have time or energy enough to enjoy sex. I believe the exact opposite is true. There’s a direct connect from feeling fit to feeling foxy. You can’t help but be hot to trot when you’re at the height of fitness. The more you’re in touch with your body, the more you’re likely to put it to use. And let’s be honest—the rush of exercise is not that different from the rush of SEXercise, a feeling already established as highly addictive. So get moving and then get with your main squeeze. And if you’re single, don’t fret—that post-exercise flush turns even the mousiest among us into a perfect 10.
Whatever your tactic, it’s time to start training. It is just a hump, after all. Get over it.
For more from Holly Bennett, check out her “Dispatch” column every Thursday on Triathlete.com.
Still looking for a race to train for in 2013? Check out the eight TriRock Series races that will take place across the country this year.