“I know that today will make me stronger for tomorrow, and tomorrow will get me one step closer to where I want to be.”
Anyone else currently feeling the winter blues? Stepping outside into the cold, wet, windy outdoors to run or head to the gym, may seem like the last thing on many of our agendas, especially when we have a warm, comforting, cosy sofa and Netflix just calling our name ?♀️
It’s a question I often get asked on Instagram, and more so as the winter months approach. And there’s actually scientific evidence to show why we’d rather cosy up under a blanket, than put on spandex leggings and go for a morning shake out.
… Not really ?♀️, but in the winter, and especially when it’s dark, your eyes send signals to the brain that it’s time to feel tired. Therefore, we are much more inclined to do less and eat more especially when the temperature drops below 10 degrees and the sun starts to set loosely after lunch.
But how many times has foregoing a bit of exercise to snuggle in your PJs made you feel a bit worse for wear?
Even though staying under shelter seems compelling, it’s much more beneficial to take those steps outside. As humans, we need exposure to sun, and it can help keep our emotional and physical wellbeing in check. Reduced exposure to the sun can disrupt our circadian rhythm – our wake/sleep cycles – which is responsible for making us feel alive and alert, or tired and worn out. So even if it seems like it’s gloomy and grey outside, it’s still better for us to move, at some point in the day!
So now you know why it’s better for you to go and train, now you need to know how. How do I summon up the strength and drive when I don’t really feel like it?
One thing – Motivation doesn’t come out of the blue, so don’t feel bad for not “having” it.
Personally, I feel like my motivations, and I have multiple goals, are just one component of how I do what I do. Running, being active, eating well, recovering, staying mentally healthy and all of what it takes to be an athlete is now so deeply embedded into who I am. I am a runner. This is what I love to do. Now it’s not so much about motivation, but rather, discipline.
As Dolly Parton put it so charmingly, “figure out who you are, and do it on purpose”. It sounds simple enough, but if you want to be a runner, all it takes is to actually run. If you want to do yoga, all it takes is to actually do yoga. Even if they are small steps, a little goes a long way. If you want to be a strong person, do the things that could help strengthen you, even if they are small changes. If you want to be healthy, do things that help make you healthier. Take things step by step, and before you know it, you’ve made some hella big changes in your lifestyle, and it becomes a part of you. Then, motivation and discipline won’t sound like something to seek anymore. Having to train in the cold winter mornings and evenings, doesn’t seem so difficult.
It’s why I started this post with a quote I made up to help me get through some of my gruelling winter training sessions.
All I’ve got to do is focus on today, and what could help get me to where I want to be. Not huge changes, but rather small, mindful steps. Now I know it sounds a lot easier than said, and they say it takes 21 days for a habit to be ingrained into your daily routine. So here are some pointers for helping you get there quicker:
1. Planning and preparation
It’s no secret anymore, everyone knows: Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.
Make your training a part of your usual routine, as easy as you would have your breakfast in the morning. If it’s instilled into your usual day, it’s much harder to forego said training. This of course takes careful planning that could take a while to get used to, but once it’s a usual routine, and ingrained into who you are and what you do, it’s so much easier. I know at 9am on a Thursday, I’m going to training and I work everything else I have around that because that’s my routine and that’s what I do.
Leave no room for excuses. For example, if you want to fit in a half hour run in the morning, try waking up just a bit earlier, or even moving your usual breakfast time a bit later. Or if you want to go in the evening, lay out your training gear and trainers, so when you come home, that’s the first thing you see and so the first thing you do. Work training around your schedule, and make it a part of your day.
2. Set your own goals – long and short.
“We experience much of our positive emotion in relation to goals. We are not happy unless we see ourselves progressing.” – Jordan Peterson.
Goals are subjective, and they can be very simple, and probably should be. This way, they don’t seem so abstract and far fetched. It’s so easy to be swept away by the world of social media, and set goals that are external to us, that we’ve seen on Instagram. But sometimes, this can just make them seem unattainable.
It’s why it’s so important to set goals which are personal to you. When I think that my goals are personal to me, that I created them, I feel in control of my own destiny. (However cliché that sounds). And because I know my goals are MY goals, and tailored to me, it makes me much more willing to go out and achieve them.
So…envision your success. What would it mean to you to succeed? What would that feel like? You’ll find your goals within your vision of this.
Then once you have your big goals, break it down into bitesize chunks – micro goals. Time really flies with micro goals, because you’re so swept away in the moment, in the everyday, you don’t realise you are so much closer to your ultimate goal.
For example, as athletes, our long term goal would most likely be achieved,
if when they do, in the summer. But that can seem like a really long way away. When I began winter training this year, one of my goals was over a year away. That’s 58 weeks. Or 290 training sessions. The time between now and then seemed monstrous. How am I going to keep myself going for THAT long?! Simple. I train in blocks, so each time a new block comes around, I set myself a goal to be stronger by the end. How I do that is specific to each training block, but to put it plainly, I take step by step. Daily. Each day has a task within it, and all I’m going to do, is complete that task of the day. Then tomorrow’s task will take care of itself.
I thought: “I know that today will make me stronger for tomorrow, and tomorrow will get me one step closer to where I want to be.”
3. Get to Know!
Knowledge is power.
Knowing why you’re doing what you’re doing, will make you more likely to continue with something that can seem so daunting, because you’ll actually be seeing the results yourself.
For example, when my coaches give me a session or a particular exercise to do that I don’t really enjoy, I ask “why”? I’m not trying to give them attitude (even though they most of the time, they definitely think I am). It’s so I can know where it’s going to take me, so I can put in the effort in the knowledge that it will get me stronger and faster.
So immerse yourself into the world of information, and educate yourself, and who knows, you may end up learning new exercises and workouts that will keep things interesting.