The other night, I was just getting on the treadmill and the 4 miles that I wanted to finish was looming before me. It had been a long day, I was tired and I realized that I was seriously in danger of defeating myself before I had even gotten started. So, I made myself snap out of it and I used a few “tricks” to help me reach my goal even though what I really wanted to do was to crash for the night. Here are some helpful ways to trick yourself into going the distance.
1) Get started. Okay, that might not seem like that much of a trick, but you’d be amazed at how much of finishing is actually tied up in starting! So, get your exercise clothes on and make yourself head outside, get on the treadmill or drive to the gym. Getting started is half the battle.
2) Load up your MP3 player with power songs. A power song is one that makes your adrenaline soar. I pick songs that put a smile on my face, have a quick beat and I can’t help but sing along to. When one of these songs comes on, you will inadvertently find yourself going faster and for longer periods of time than you would have gone without it. About every third song on my running playlist is a power song and they always come on right as I feel my energy begin to dip.
3) Break up your total workout into a series of smaller goals. I am a huge fan of interval training because it gives me a plan of action and I am focusing on one small piece of my total workout instead of the final mileage for the day. My favorite type of interval training is breaking a run either by 1/4 mile blocks (if I’m on the treadmill) or by songs (if I’m running on the road). What I’ll do is complete 1/4 mile or 1 song at a faster pace and follow it by another 1/4 mile or song at a slower pace. I’ll sandwich these intervals between a 1 mile warm-up and a 1 mile cool-down and before I know it, I’m at 4, 5 or 6 miles for the day. My running buddy, Kasey, can attest to the fact that this was the only way that we got through the last 6 miles of our marathon. We would literally pick a point in the distance (like the 3rd palm tree) and would allow ourselves a walk break when we got there.
4) Tell others how far you plan to go. You guys will notice that on Facebook, I almost always state my goal out loud before I head out for a workout. If I feel myself trying to punk out of my mileage early, I think about the fact that I would then need to fess up that I didn’t make it as far as I’d wanted to. While there are plenty of valid reasons for stopping in the middle of a workout (injury, lightheadedness), “not feeling like going on” isn’t one of them and if you are completely honest with yourself, you will know the difference.
5) Visualize victory. If you feel yourself wanting to quit, think about how good it will feel to accomplish what you set out to do. When you set yourself up to succeed, that feeling is addictive. During your workout, picture yourself getting stronger, feel those fat cells melting away, imagine your legs getting more defined and your lung capacity expanding. When I was a swimmer, we would spend upwards of 30 minutes lying down on mats visualizing our entire race. If you can get your mind to accept that you WILL reach your goals, your body has no choice but to follow suit.