At some point, we have all struggled mentally during a workout or training session. The repetitiveness of the same route at the same pace can make every step and every mile mind-numbingly painful. And if you're new to the activity/sport and your fitness isn't at its best (yet), you might be fighting off feelings of giving up before you even get started. But not to worry, help is on its way! These five simple techniques can help turn an otherwise dull or mentally dreadful workout into an enjoyable one.
Use The "Next" Technique. There is a saying that the Navy SEALS use, "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time." Meaning don't focus on the five or ten miles you have ahead of you. Be in the moment. Break your activity up into achievable, bite-size chunks. Once you've achieved that goal, focus on the next one. For example, focus on something in the distance and tell yourself, “I’m going to keep going at this pace until I hit that next ___.” Then once you make it to that object, find the next thing to focus on. This technique can be used while running, biking, and swimming.
Rock It Out. It's amazing how a great playlist can make a long run or bike ride fly by. Set up playlists with motivational music that moves you and makes you want to move. Some of my favorite music has lyrics that inspire me. Other tunes have a great beat that I can set my running cadence too. Yet other songs are just fun and fast and makes me smile. What songs make you want to get up and move? Download them to your phone!
Do Intervals. It might sound simple (and it is), but it’s handy in making time go by faster. Intervals are also a great way to get in more miles when you cannot sustain a steady pace for an extended time or mileage. For example, if you are jogging/running, you can do speed intervals alternating from fast to slow. Or you can do walk-jog intervals. This can be accomplished by setting your iPhone or training watch to count down the intervals for you or using the Next One Technique. I personally use an iPhone application called Round Timer. It works great; it will signal me even as I’m listening to my music. You can also do intervals in the pool by doing speed, stroke, or swim style intervals. On the bike or trainer, you can do cadence or power output intervals. I personally do cadence intervals while on the trainer it makes time fly by!
Scan Your Body. This is a great technique to use while doing any sport. Start by being aware of every muscle and joint in your body. Do you feel tightness anywhere? If so, focus on relaxing that muscle or area. For example, when running, how does your kick or stride feel? Do you feel tightness in your calves? Are your shoulders lifted towards your ears and tight? If so, focus on relaxing those areas. This simple technique not only keeps your mind occupied but also conserves energy. A tight, tense body consumes more energy and makes you more susceptible to injury.
Remember, Your “WHY.” Put simply, your "Why" is the reason/motivation for exercising or training. We all have a WHY. Yours might be as simple as wanting to lose weight and get into better shape. My WHY is my USMC son, our fallen military, and the loved ones they left behind. When I’m training or competing, and I feel like giving up, all I have to do is think of my son and the tens of thousands of sons (daughters, husbands, and wives) that never made it home. I think of the loved ones left behind and the pain of loss that they live with daily. My freedom is a debt I can never repay, but it's one that deserves me doing everything I can to try, so I keep moving to honor them! Your WHY no matter what it is, has the power to be a potent tool and source of inspiration. You only need to tap into it and use it.
I would love to hear back from you. What ideas from this list have you tried? What other techniques do you use that didn't make my list?
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