It seems to happen often this time of year, especially to athletes and other active folks. The gym seems grimy, every activity seems boring, and the compulsion that efficiently fueled your workouts over the New Year has faded away.
It’s been a long winter, and there’s not even a sniff of spring. It’s not surprising to come down with a case of the doldrums—described as a “state of stagnation.”
Sadly, allowing the doldrums to affect you at this particular time of year can ruin your entire summer. If you’ve been listless about your conditioning, you’ll have to rebuild everything back up before you can be as good as you were last season; whether your sport is running, biking, cycling, or triathlons.
But what can you do when you have little, or no, motivation?
Answer: FORCE yourself. This will be a hard chore. You may want to sponge out, spend time watching TV and nibbling at fattening snacks. However, once the results of a doldrums life style set in, getting back in shape can seem like an impenetrable barrier.
Some people never come back. Don’t be one of them. Forcing yourself to restart your workouts will pay off by getting you physically ready for your favorite activities right from the start of spring weather. But it can’t be stop and go. You can’t do a week of workouts and then spend a week on the couch. You have to rebuild your determination as well as your strength and stamina.
Start with the most basic part of reconditioning: a schedule. Whether it’s before work or school, or after, in the morning or the evening; that schedule has to rule your life. You can tell yourself how much you hate it, but don’t let self-negativity (or anything else) stop you.
There are several systems that can be used to make forcing yourself a bit easier. The simplest is to set a time limit on your ‘forced’ program. Plan to do your pre-season conditioning for, say, a six-week period. That allows you to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Six weeks is also enough time to create a noticeable physical improvement. That alone may ease the difficulty of forcing yourself to train for a month and a half.
You can also use a reward system as a kind of psychological conditioning. Whether it’s a movie you just never got around to watching or a candy treat you’ve been denying yourself, create a reward that you give yourself for each day or week of completing your scheduled workout. Purchasing a new piece of clothing to show off your improving physique can often be a motivator. The very process of seeing an improvement in your weight, your body or your skills can often be all the new motivation you need to keep training.
There’s another part to this process that many athletes don’t take seriously: the proven truth that a body in motion tends to stay in motion, while a body at rest tends to stay at rest. If you’ve been lazy and inactive, your body will resist your attempts to get active again. You’ll make all the right plans and schedules, only to realize that you haven’t acted on them. You haven’t really forced yourself to do anything at all.
However, if you can get mobilized enough to do one week, it will take less effort to do the second week. By the third week, your body will be much more accustomed to being in motion. It will stop fighting your intentions. You’ll be motivated to work out without having to force yourself.