I admit, I think my wife, Genevie, thinks I’m off my rocker now and then. “Could you NOT do pushups in my view while I’m trying to relax on the couch and watch some television?”, she pleads. True, I periodically bump up my exercise to levels where we joke that I must think I am at the Olympic Training Camp. Really, what I do is not anywhere close to what those aspiring Olympians do (or even the multitude of healthy adventurous folks here in town!), but the joke does make us chuckle. So, yeah, what AM I thinking? I’m getting older, just turning 62 and the pandemic era athletic event schedule is quite limited. Even an old runner friend noticed my Strava mileage last spring and wondered what I was thinking. So what’s the point, Genevie asked recently. What keeps you going? And maybe more importantly, how do you keep going?
I gave it some good thought and came to the realization that for me I want to be physically ready for the next adventure; to live in wellness for as long as I can; to feel a little wild animal in me (or channel my inner Ferrari) still as I run around in the hills and trees; to breathe deep, exert and challenge my mind and body to stay on high readiness because I plan on playing for quite awhile yet. Olympics here I come. 😉
I’ve found over time that different ideas, concepts or “life hacks” have worked to keep me motivated. I’ve listed 10 different strategies (with examples), as one might “click” best for you and make all the difference as some have done for me.
- You were given a Ferrari- what did you do with it?
- Most of us were lucky enough to run around, somersault and hop as kids. Our bodies are made to move. I believe it’s easy to forget we are little Ferraris inside, just hankering to be driven. Sure, our top speeds are varied, but who cares?
- Our little Ferrari is a gift that is pretty darn fun and even powerful if we resurrect it, tune it up and maintain it. It’s all there within us, just waiting to be discovered or rediscovered, and driven.
- Decide, Begin, Persist
- We live in a world of distraction and are rich with options for our attention. Making good progress requires focus and choosing specifically what is to be done. Is this thing a priority or not, does it align with my values? Clear the clutter of competing thoughts or priorities. Now, START! Then keep going. 🙂
- This works with a training session too. You already decided this is what you will do and there is no more thinking to do, so just begin. Voila, another day of persistence and it wasn’t that bad!
- Don’t run and want to be a runner? Decide to start. Start small (5 minutes!), build the habit and persist.
- Action vs. Desire… or even Goals
- Start acting today the way that future person you see yourself as, actually acts. I call it, “act as if” thinking. Write a lot if you want to someday be a published writer. Act like a manager now, if you hope to be a manager someday. Train today as somebody who runs fast, months or years from now.
- Again, just take action and start practicing or being who you want to be. The results will occur as they will. If I desire to run well, I should probably run today. I’m not getting any better sitting here.
- Be present
- Enjoy the path as much as the potential destination/goal. Accept what is. There are dips and plateaus on the path and we just need to get over it and keep moving.
- Trust in the process. Gains come with patience. We want to be there now, but any good destination takes time and effort.
- Pulsing is pretty good
- Seasons are one analogy. Slower growth in winter to be ready for more vigorous growth in spring and summer.
- Maintaining effort is not going to happen. Accept it. Working hard for awhile and working less hard other times is actually is good for growth.
- The key is keeping at it enough that you are compounding your investment day to day, rather than getting injured by doing too much or quitting due to unrealistic expectations.
- Positive Feedback Loops
- This is where one good things leads to another. A good day of healthful choices builds on the previous day and so on.
- Think of compounding interest. A little bit of positive every day creates a compounding effect. When we feel better, we want to do better and so on.
- Now leverage other parts of your life and magnify the effect. Cut back a negative input here, add a positive there and the pace of growth quickens. Think less sweet drinks or beer here and more water there, as one of many examples.
- Measuring, timing and calculating can be motivating, but may, alternatively, add friction to your momentum. If so, just skip it and keep the positive feedback loop operating.
- Make it play and not a “work”out
- Having to do a workout versus having the good fortune to be able to go out and run around, bike or play like a kid is a big difference in thinking.
- The point is to keep it fun. Getting to “workout” is a gift that we are lucky to enjoy.
- It’s been said that the need for progress can be the enemy of enjoying the process.
- Think opportunity when challenges arise
- This Covid era is hard! It’s a good thing we, as runners, are long term, patient and persistent people. If not, then this is a good time to practice these helpful traits.
- What is the silver, maybe bronze, lining? Develop home fitness routines, maybe. Finding new routes or activities to enjoy. Eating more home cooked meals. Cleaning out the garage finally. Looking out for others. Finding community in new ways. Having time to figure out plans for travel and races…eventually. And especially, cultivating a renewed gratitude for health, life and each other.
- We are immersed in information (books, podcasts, websites, etc.), like never before in history. It can be overwhelming. But if we decide on a specific topic, start to read or listen to things that teach or inspire us to improve and then persist with focus, the advances to be made can be remarkable.
- Find a friend, coach or mentor to meet with regularly, virtually or otherwise, that can help guide, inspire or just help to keep it fun.
- Locus of control
- We can’t very well control what happens in our environment. We are confronting the pandemic and we alone can’t change that. All we can do is manage our responses and make decisions within our control.
- Reflect and act on the power you have, the decisions you alone can make— to learn, to run, to help others, to be fit, to respond in positive ways, to love and care.
What are your “why’s” and “how’s”? Digging a little deeper for those answers will help you practice being the person you want to be. Clarity is power. I hope something here may help a little bit and wish you good health, relationships and fitness for 2021 and beyond. Happy trails, Steve