Exercising My Willpower Muscle

Source: mindovermatter.tumblr.com

Source: mindovermatter.tumblr.com

My biggest obstacle in the fitness game has always been my own brain.  I get bored or tired, so I don’t do high mileage.  A workout is too hard, so I don’t finish.  It’s raining, so I don’t go out for my run.  It’s snowing, so I don’t hit the gym.  I always let that little voice in my head that’s whiny and lazy get the best of me.

Now that I am training towards a concrete goal-a half marathon-I’m having a much easier time staying motivated.  Some days are more challenging than others, but I have a few tips and tricks that I’m employing to keep me going.

1.  Tell people what you’re doing.  I told everyone–my boyfriend, parents, sisters, coworkers, friends, and everyone on Facebook that I’m planning to run a half marathon in the fall.  Now, people ask me how my training is going.  People are interested and invested, so I have to stay accountable.

2.  Set a schedule/routine.  I did a bunch of research and developed a half marathon training plan that I think will work for me.  I know what I’m supposed to do at the gym or on my run every day.  I know that Saturday mornings are my long runs, so I have to get to bed early on Friday night.  Having a plan makes it a lot easier to stay on track.  Prior to this half marathon scheme, I always sort of floated through work outs, not really keeping track of distances or weights, and if I missed a workout, well, it didn’t really matter because I wasn’t working towards something specific.  Now I know that if I miss my long run, I’ll have to fit it in later, and that’s a pain if I’ve got other plans.

3.  Set mini goals to exercise your will power.  I hate treadmill running.  It’s boring.  I have to force myself to keep going on the days I run on the treadmill.  Knowing that I’ve got 4 miles ahead of me can totally psyche me out before I even begin, making it difficult to finish.  So, I say things like, “Just run until the next commercial break or through the next three songs without looking at your time/distance.”  And by the time I make it to that next commercial break or those three songs are done, a half mile has flown by!  Setting and meeting those smaller goals really makes me feel like I’m achieving something.  And if I can run a half mile without noticing, surely I can run 1 whole mile, and then 2, and 3, and 4.  Magic!

Pie4.  It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.  I have a ridiculous sweet tooth, and I know that if I try to completely deny myself treats, I’ll go crazy and end up eating an entire box of cookies.  So what I’ve been doing lately is allowing myself one treat a day.  Or, if someone hands me a giant cookie, I eat half.  Or, if I know I’ll be eating pasta for dinner, I’ll say no to coffee cake at the office.  Same goes for training.  If I’m supposed to run 4 miles and I’m exhausted or hurting, I’ll do a few walking stretches to make it more bearable.  It can feel like failure if you’re unable run your entire distance or complete your lifting set, but just getting out there and attempting your workout is a HUGE success.  A lot of people just sat on their butts the entire time you were sweating it out.  Yay, you!

I’d be lying if I said I was breezing through training with no issues thanks to these tricks, but it is much easier.  And it gets easier every day.  They say it takes something like 21 days to form a habit, and I think I’m finally getting into the habit of eating well and exercising often.  It’s pretty cool.

What tricks do you use to exercise your will power muscle?

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