A client asked me recently an interesting question; “Do you ever not want to train?” OK, so on the face of it, this isn’t the most intriguing question ever; of course there are times that I don’t want to train!
This isn’t the end by the way…
There isn’t a person alive that doesn’t have days when they feel too tired, lazy or unmotivated to train. In fact I remember an interview from my current favourite athlete Jess Ennis last month, during which she discussed the rigours of training over Christmas despite the desire to relax with the family and tuck into a roast. It’s natural to want time off and in reality it’s essential to rest and recuperate (but that’s a point for another article).
Back to the question at hand, or rather back to the question she really meant to ask; “How do I motivate myself to train when I don’t feel like it?”
Goals. I set myself personal goals.
The idea behind goal setting is effective in its simplicity. A goal is something you are hoping to achieve through action and is ‘an effective strategy for supporting exercise and behaviour change’ (Buckworth and Dishman, 2001). There are obviously many different types of goals one can set; personal, professional, short, long, etc. For me though, the most important point is to set a realistic goal!
Why is it important to set goals?
There are numerous reasons behind goal setting. These include; helping people maintain attention, creating a mental inclination to persist at the task at hand whilst keeping in sight the objective, helping to marshal and direct the intensity of effort to the task, and aiding in strategy development to achieve the desired outcome.
Now everyone’s goals will be different and although it helps to discuss them with others (e.g. a personal trainer or exercise partner), the most important aspect is to fully commit and not be influenced by others that don’t share your goal. Your goal should be individual and applicable to yourself. There’s no point trying to cheat by just copying someone else’s, if it isn’t something that you feel strongly enough with to complete. For example, if you want to run 5km no stop, but your friend has their sights on the marathon, it’s going to be very difficult not to become disillusioned and frustrated if you try to go along with theirs because it’s not something you either really want, or believe yourself to be realistic.
My advice is simple; pick realistic goals that you can achieve, and be flexible so when you have succeeded you can pat yourself on the back and move onto the next!