I’ve been sick for the last week and a half, with a bad cold that has made my chest hurt. Bronchitis, perhaps? I haven’t exercised during that time, and I’ve actually enjoyed the excuse to be lazy and lie on the couch. Yesterday morning I felt much better, so I got up at 6am desperately seeking an excuse not to go out and run. Oh hooray! It was raining! I grabbed a book and some coffee, and read on the couch for a couple hours until Mike and Danny woke up.
This morning I woke up early, feeling good and hoping for rain. Unfortunately it was a beautiful day. I looked at my book and considered scrapping the run and reading on the couch again. I’m really enjoying this book. (It’s ironic that I didn’t want to run because I was too engrossed in the book Born to Run.) But I was healthy, it wasn’t raining, and the heat wave is over. I was out of excuses. Now I needed to work on getting my exercise motivation back.
For me, finding motivation to exercise comes in three steps:
1. Just suck it up and do it.
This is obviously the hard part. The good news is that it’s the only hard part. I’ve read several times that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. So you need to make yourself do it for 21 days, even if you’re just forcing yourself to go through the motions. 21 days will pass quicker than you expect.
When I started running, part of my initial motivation was just counting down the days to 21. Fortunately running makes me feel so good that it took me only two weeks to get hooked.
2. Pay attention to the things you enjoy about it.
Look around you, and look inside you. Millions of people love exercising for their own reasons. What do you love about it? Is it the distance or time goals? The energy rush? The friends you’ve made doing it? The change of scenery? The “me time”? Pay attention and focus on those things instead of the “work” element of working out.
When I started running last winter, I was running on a treadmill in our basement, watching Parks and Recreation on Netflix. The things I enjoyed about it included mileage goals, time to myself, and Amy Poehler.
When spring came, I decided to brave the hills and run outside. Suddenly I was surrounded by countless things that made running fun. I loved the bright blue skies, spring flowers, people-watching, and new discoveries around each corner. Mostly I loved the way I felt when I was moving through the world instead of sitting on my couch.
3. Remind yourself every day of those things that you enjoy, and how you won’t get them unless you exercise.
This morning, when I was trying to come up with an excuse to stay home, I thought about all the reasons that running brings me happiness. I knew that if I stepped out my front door and just did it, I would be glad I did. I would come home having seen interesting things that I wouldn’t have encountered otherwise. I’d feel accomplished. I’d be proud of myself.
This morning I was back to Step 1. I decided that I would run two laps around Lake Anne, for a total of three easy miles. I forced myself to run that first lap, but by lap 2, I was happy and soaking in the views.
I decided to take pictures of some of the great things that I loved about running in my neighborhood today:
How do you find motivation to exercise when you don’t feel like it? What do you love about it that keeps you going?
Hi, I’m Charlotte! I’m a photographer in Reston, Virginia. I love hiking, running, and exploring the world with my husband and young son.