In the midst of winter, it can be a struggle to put on your running shoes and venture out into a dark, cold, and rainy Tuesday night to run 10km . . . especially if you’re just home from work, hungry, tired, and the family are vying for your time.
As a result, it’s no wonder that over the winter, motivation levels drop and bellies bulge. And just because you’re rostered to play Santa Claus for two hours at your kid’s school, doesn’t mean you should get into character!
Because You Have To
There are many techniques you can use to motivate yourself to train, but in this post, I would like to concentrate on just one of those techniques (possibly the most motivating of all): the it’s-because-I-have-to perspective. Before I dive into the details, we first need a brief look at some history:
“Necessity is the mother of invention.” – Unknown
I’m sure that you have heard this saying before. It’s very famous and in essence simply means that we will only create or do what we need to when it’s absolutely necessary. In short, we humans are terrible long-term planners and leave everything until the last minute. Like when we were young and asked to tidy our rooms . . . or waiting until December 24th to do the Christmas shopping.
Using Procrastination to Your Advantage
Normally, procrastination is an annoying trait. There are lots of goals we want to achieve but often never get around to them. So here is how you can use a little hack to make sure you get the results and achievements you want.
It’s a simple, 1-step process: Just sign up for an event.
Sounds too simple, right? Go out and speak to some people, and ask what they want to achieve. You’ll hear things like, “I want to run a marathon” or “I want to complete a 10km race.” The list is endless! When asked why they aren’t doing it, they’ll say something like, “I don’t have time to train” or “I’m preparing for it and will enter when I’m ready.”
These excuses would dissolve in an instant if they actually had a marathon or 10km race planned. They would no longer have a choice. It would be a set-in-stone commitment that they had paid for, told a load of people about, and would have to complete.
What Happens When You Commit
Once you have signed up for an event, you will tell yourself that you have to do it. No more messing around, waiting until you are ready. You’ll have to be ready or be prepared to fail. And the fear of embarrassment or failure is a good motivator!
That’s where the saying comes in: When it is absolutely necessary for you to do something, you will find a way to achieve it.
It really is that simple. You might even find that you enjoy the process. After all, the event should be something you wanted to do anyway but were just putting off.
5 Actionable Tips to Make Commitment a Success
#1 – Know Your Limits
We’d all love the ability to complete the Tour de France, but most of us would never be able to. I don’t see this limitation as negative, just realistic. Pick an event that will push you but not kill you.
It’s different for every person, so have a look at where you are now and what you think you could do in the next six months. Run the idea past some people who have done what you want to do and then take it from there.
#2 – Within Touching Distance
Ideally, you want an event that is far enough in the future that you have plenty of time to train for it, but not too far away. Something one year away seems like forever! Three-six months away, depending on your experience level, should be about right.
#3 – A Problem Shared is a Problem Halved
Get someone else involved in your event — ideally a friend you can train with who is on a similar level. You can go through the ups and downs together, support one another, and motivate each other for the training and event.
#4 – Surround Yourself
If you enter something like a running event, go join a club. Not only will you feel more motivated to run because everyone else is, but you’ll also learn a lot about what type of running you should be improving the most.
You are the product of the five people you spend the most time with, so spend more time with runners, and you will become one.
#5 – Build Up Gradually
This tip is especially important. If you have booked something like an Ironman, you must try out some other long races beforehand. Having Ironman as your first triathlon ever is not ideal preparation.
Maybe pick a distance or an event that is similar to your main goal, but not as long or as hard.
For example, if you were looking to complete a 10km race and had never run before, you would start by running around the block a few times, then build up to 10 mins, then 2 km, etc. After a little time, you could look to enter a 5km Park Run (free, by the way) and build it up that way.
What to Do Next
I think you know what to do! You’re online, so the online application for an event is close by. 😉
Robert Jackson, of Minimal FiT, is a personal trainer in Canary Wharf, London, UK. Having spent many years training himself, competing in events such as Ironman 70.3 Majorca, Ironman UK, white collar boxing bouts, and 10km races, he has a passion for helping others achieve their goals. He developed a system called The 7 Secrets to Sustainable Body Transformations, which you can find out more about here.