Despite the gloomy, rainy morning, I pulled on my workout clothes and headed to my Monday morning spin class, just as I do every Monday morning. That class is among the toughest 50 minutes of my week and there are many Mondays I’d rather do anything than go to that class, but I go. Every week. Barring illness, injury or emergency, you will find me at that spin class, same place, same time, every week; legs churning, sweat flying, casting furtive glances at the clock every few minutes and wishing for that hour to end. But, when all is said and done, I’m always glad I went.
A friend recently asked me about motivation. To me, motivation is what inspires you to act or to make a positive change. It is definitely not a “one size fits all” recipe. People are motivated for different reasons. Some people want to achieve a specific goal, such as fitting into a smaller pair of jeans or weighing 20 pounds less by a certain date. For me, it’s more process-oriented. I like to see my performance times improve from week to week; I aim to swim harder, ride longer, run faster, and be the best I can be at whatever it is I’m trying to do. When I compete in a triathlon, I can’t control the field of competitors, but I can control my own performance and the only way to improve from year to year is to train hard for months in advance. Ultimately, I am always only racing against myself. To do this requires more than motivation; it also requires commitment, which is a whole different subject.
Being motivated to exercise is one thing; actually doing it is another. My workouts are scheduled in my calendar just like any other appointment and it is non-negotiable. To further improve my chances of success, I prep my gear the night before; I pack my gym bag, fill water bottles, and put it all by the door. My workout clothes are next to my bed so when my alarm goes off I can get up and change right into the appropriate gear for that day’s activity. Looking the part is half the battle; it puts you in the right frame of mind for the task at hand. Set a workout schedule and stick to it. If it rains on your running day, make sure you have proper gear to battle the elements or be prepared to take your show indoors. Also, don’t let those invites to coffee at Panera or a post-work happy hour divert you from your plan; either decline the invite or get your workout in first. Coffee can serve as a pre-workout boost (if you go easy on the bagels), but who wants to run after two glasses of wine and a plate of nachos?
So, once you make a commitment to yourself, then it’s time to work on the motivation piece so you can stick to it and see results. Here is my Top 20 list of what motivates me to keep going day after day:
1) Challenging myself.
2) Improving my race times, improving myself. Improving.
3) Anyone faster than me.
4) Passing the person in front of me.
5) My husband. Life partner and training partner. He inspires me every day to be a better person, and a better athlete.
6) Being a positive role model for my daughters.
7) The Iron Man (and other endurance races).
8) The Wall at Savageman.
9) Kick-ass female athletes like Dara Torres, Chrissie Wellington and Lindsey Vonn.
10) My friends (you know who you are).
11) Being more fit at 40 than I was in my 20s.
12) Rock hard abs (the quest for).
13) New adventures
14) The finish line; and the journey to get there.
15) Becoming stronger and faster.
16) Camaraderie among my fellow racers and athletes.
17) Excitement of the race, and thrill of the chase.
18) Eating everything I want (in moderation. Most of the time).
19) Having the blood pressure of a teenager.
20) Being healthy and feeling good.
What motivates you?