How to Hack Your Exercise Motivation

Ever get to a point where your just meh about your exercise schedule and your frequency drops off, yeah me too. Sometimes you can just take a mental note, resolve to do better and fix it just like that. No, that’s never happened to me either! So here are a few ways to trick yourself into it as if your bribing a toddler with candy. Yeah, I’ve done that too. This time of year can be hard race season is over, your in the best shape of the year and you can afford to take a day off, all totally true. But then you feel guilty get stuck in a rut, maybe your dealing with an injury or binge watching Netflix and loving it, maybe you really are very busy. So here are a few ways to trick yourself into going for a run, feel free to layer the options.

Or how to trick yourself into getting off the couch when you know you should!

Sign up for a race

This one is sort of a no brainer but you can use this hack in the short term or long term. If you want motivation right now pick a short race soon in the future. If your looking for motivation in the distant future make it a long one in the spring. This is the perfect time to tackle a new distance. If your looking toward a longer term goal find a training program that specifies a base and then count back to when you need to start training. Then get to or maintain that base mileage starting now with the idea that training will hurt less the better your base. Time for a marathon anyone?

Try something new

Nothing is more motivating than starting a new class. The first few times you try something new it’s amazing. Look online for some new classes you wouldn’t normally ever even try. Things like aerial yoga, pole dancing, kick boxing, HIIT or spinning the options are endless. Take up a martial art, try barre or a dance class, ballet is popular and sign up for a session of classes. Nothing says you ever have to do it again let alone become and expert. Sign up for a class or two a week to get you over the hump for a couple of moths. Chances are the initial love affair will wear off and you’ll be happy to return to your regular sport. But you never know it might turn into your new passion and you’ll be competing in the national pole dancing championships next year. Or maybe not.

Pay for it

This goes part and parcel with the last one. Runs are free and gym memberships cost the same no mater how many times you go. Most people including me want to get the most for our money if we’re paying for something. So whether it’s hiring a trainer or a run coach or signing up for a session of classes at a set time chances are you’ll go. If you are at a loss for what to do trust me you don’t have to look far for options. You can look at your city’s parks and recreation guide or do a search for your location and fitness and you’ll see the options are endless. If you are a runner, cyclist or swimmer, even if just a casual one you could hire a coach. That sounds a little crazy but… they can help you get to the next level and even get more enjoyment from your chosen sport. In the off season these people have more availability and might even give you a bit of a deal. No matter how good, or bad, you are you’ll get better by working with a professional.

Take it outdoors (or indoors)

I’ve been reading a few studies recently for an article I’m writing over on sad runner about the benefits of exercising outdoors. Believe it or not it’s been studied extensively and there are some pretty big effects on your motivation and your mental and physical health to exercise outdoors. You’re more likely to increase your frequency and intensity just by exercising outdoors. The kicker is even though you’ll naturally go a bit harder and a bit faster you’ll report a lower perceived effort by being in the fresh air compared to indoors. Also the prettier the area you’re in the more profound the effect so as nutty as it seems there is good science that says it’s worth it to drive to your run! City planners are you listening make the world prettier and lower healthcare costs. Shrubs have to be cheaper than heart surgery right?
Now there is another side too. If you have crappy winters or want to do that pay for it thing then consider paying for a few months of gym membership. Now… gyms sell annual memberships and its a hard sell they give you. Even if you use a friend’s buddy pass expect someone to take you aside, sit your down and sell hard. Just be rigid, your only interested in December through march, that’s all. If you get up to leave they’ll find a way to sell you a four month membership. They also want to sign you up for automatic deductions or credit card withdrawals knowing your not likely to cancel it, so remember that! I use a community drop in centre with a gym. I think the months membership is $25 per month in cash each month but I just pay the $5 drop in fee. Even it I end up paying more in a given month, meh it’s to a good cause but they tell me to stop paying when I hit that mark.

Schedule it and everything else

Oh for the busy exerciser… I got you Boo. Also check out this post about really actually being too busy. Schedule all your shit, all of it! I’m old school and use a paper organizer the size of a binder that has the days, even weekend broken down into 15 minute intervals schedule all of your activities to find ‘extra’ time like lunch breaks, 45 free minutes between appointments and car appointments in order to find time to run. Then put all those runs into your phone, set those reminders to pop up and irritate you into getting it done. A happy side note is this makes you get other things done faster. When you’ve got a 14 km interval run scheduled for 10 pm let me tell you, you get through those other things before as fast as you can.

Nike weekly global 5k Sundays

I want to say last December or so Nike Run Club app started a Sunday global 5k challenge and launched a hashtag to go with it on their app. You get a count of how many runners participated on a given Sunday, usually over a million and get special stickers and trophies. I’m not huge into Instagram but I love posting my Sunday pictures. It’s so cool to post your picture to Instagram and scroll through all the other people that participated world wide. Think about downloading the app just for this one. Super motivating and fun!

Mostly NRC global 5k pics, I just call it Sunday Sunday Funday. Ps I’m taking that adorable dog tomorrow too!

Treat yo’self

AKA bribe yourself, it’s not that pure of thought and mind but it can get the job done. Two 80 km months in a row = designer purse. Three runs a week = brunch on Sunday. 5 workouts a week = new shoes. You get the idea or even, every workout = candy. It’s not really true to the passion and purity you might strive for but… we all need motivation from external sources from time to time. You might be worried about this but I’m not, really any little treat can work so you don’t have to blow your budget and if you were going to buy yourself a new holiday outfit anyway you might as well earn it.

Ask for presents ideally from people you live with

This seems weird but boy is it a good one! Maybe your birthday is around the corner but the holidays aren’t that far off, I know sorry. Ask for a fancy fitness thing for your next present, ideally from someone you live with. Boy will you feel guilty if they don’t see you using it! Last Christmas Richard bought me 100’s of dollars in winter running gear as my running ramped up and the cold season was upon us. I might have done a lot of complaining about the cold for all of December and did a great job holding down the couch and up a blanket. The year before actually he got me an apple watch to track my fitness, he’s been on a roll lately but there have been a few off years too. You might even ask for it early if you sometimes do that sort of thing at your house.

Just start or even get dressed, then you can stop

Ever hear the idea that if you just get started for 10 minutes or so you’ll probably do more, that’s true but I feel like it can be a big ask. So make it less. Try 5 minutes or even just get all dressed up ready to go and do you pre run routine, hey that’s some exercise right? But I mean full on get dressed running clothes, headphones, braces, sneakers and fill your water bottles and charge you phone. Then your standing there full dressed ready to go so you might as well right, chances are you probably will get out there. Now you might be thinking this is stupid, so extra and unnecessary I’m not a child after all. That might be true but this trick gets me out the door every single time.

Lurk on running blogs, Pinterest boards and the like

Just some old fashioned google delivered motivation. Once you haven’t made it out the door once again ‘punish’ yourself my reading your favourite running blogs, pintresting and looking longingly at old race photos. You’ll regret your previous lazy decision and hopefully make it out the door the next day, maybe. This might not work the very first time but it’s a powerful cumulative effect over time. Fitspo, motivation running quotes (like those here on Fridays hopefully at least) and pictures you love of yourself due to being in shape are also good options. One day you’ll eventually just be inspired at get out there and get a workout in, I promise!

What are your favourite tips and tricks to boost your motivation when it’s lagging? Do any of these sound helpful? Happy fall!


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