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Overcoming Reluctance to Train

You might think that I wouldn’t have any trouble overcoming the “I don’t want to work out today” blues, as much as I train. You’d be wrong. For me it happens about once a week.

However, I’ve been doing it long enough to have developed a few tricks to deal with my periodic reluctance to train or go get my workout done.

1. Set a goal you can keep

This is where it all begins. If you work out I’m guessing you have a goal in mind, even if you haven’t put it into words very clearly yet. Do that. Put it into words. Why are you packing up all your crap and heading to the gym every week? Be able to name your answer every time that question shoves its way to the forefront of your reluctant-feeling brain.

Oh, and make it a goal you can actually achieve. My main training goal is to be in the gym three times every single week. I set it there because I know I can do that, and more. So when I actually train four times a week (which is nearly every week), I feel like I’m going a step above. I’m a rockstar.

2. Keep your gear always packed, always in the car.

I can work out any day of the week at any time, because I always have my gym bag packed and ready. Every time I get back from the gym I carry out the sweaty stinky stuff and go put the clean stuff in, ready for next time. There’s also a non-melty power bar of some sort in there, so that I don’t have the “I’m famished” excuse.

Probably the nicest side-benefit of this is that I can stop at any cool new park or trailhead I happen to discover, pop the trunk, change shoes, and I’m off. Not my regular workout, but a fabulous addition which really lifts my spirits.

3. Know your biggest excuses, and defuse them in advance.

My biggest excuse for not training used to be the fact that I hate taking a shower in a crappy gym. The way I defused it was by visiting my all-time favorite luxury bath goods store (Hello, Lush!) and stocking up on the best soaps, shampoos, and other fragrant treats. I put them in my gym bag, and poof! Suddenly I’m looking forward to my shower.

Now my go-to excuse is “I don’t feel like going.” For this one I offer “discounts.” Rather than my regular 30 minute cardio sprints session, I tell myself I can simply run easy for 30 minutes. Or something similar. Generally what happens is that I get to the gym, get started, and my spirits improve! I find myself rising to the bar, even though I’ve told myself I can take it easy.

4. Give yourself incentives.

Once in a while I promise myself one of my favorite post-training treats: a berry smoothie. These babies are better than fried donuts at the fair, in my estimation. One cup of frozen raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries, a scoop of protein powder, a scoop of creatine (on weightlifting days), and a splash of orange juice. If I have plain yogurt, I’ll throw that in too. This is my version of the Scooby Snack, and I will pretty much walk over hot coals to get it. Can you say Incentive Program?

Another way my husband helps is by offering to meet me after my hardest boxing nights and take me out for a drink. I adore him for this, I truly do! A man and a martini can very nearly heal the world and bring about world peace in my universe.

5. Keep it interesting.

If I had to run on a treadmill for 30 minutes I would probably expire from misery. But tell me I have to throw sprints on jump rope for 10 minutes, do spin bike hard for 10 minutes, row for 5 minutes, and run stairs or do box jumps for 5 minutes and I’m all over it. Ta-daa! There’s your 30 minute cardio.

6. Shorten that damn thing!

Here’s the deal. Most of you are spending too much time in the gym. This is because you’re slouching around, watching television, trying to avoid the next set, or simply moving too damn slow. If you put some intensity into your workout you don’t need to be there for three hours. Or even two hours. Hell, you can be trained, changed, and outta there inside of an hour if you work it just right.

Dump your endless, boring, low-level cardio jog for a series of hard sprints and recoveries in whatever thing you do — run, bike, swim, row, heavy bag, etc. You can even incorporate skipping, jumping, ladder drills or agility dot drills. Whatever it is, do it in intervals and do it hard. Recover for 30 seconds or a minute from each hard interval, and start the next one.

Get a solid 30 minutes in and move on. Studies show that this method actually burns more calories (if that’s what you’re trying to do) than the death-by-treadmill stuff anyway. (Google Tabata workouts and read up on it if you like. Or just ask any boxer in the world.)

7. Don’t train hard all the time.

When I have a fight I’m training for I ramp up my workouts 7 weeks in advance. Afterward, I take it easy — I don’t ditch my training, I just relax the pace. I’m not a machine, I’m a human, and I allow myself to enjoy the ebb and flow of a healthy life.

Nobody stays in peak condition 100% of the time, nor should they. Maintain a solid baseline, and jack it up for the important stuff. That’s what makes staying healthy sustainable.

What are your tricks to beating the “I don’t want to work out” blues?

Leave me a comment and tell me how you overcome your reluctance to train.

Image by Steve Maw on Flickr

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14 Responses to Overcoming Reluctance to Train

  1. Girlboxing January 31, 2011 at 6:24 pm #

    Great list! And soooooo true!

  2. Heather January 31, 2011 at 11:23 pm #

    I love this post! I use the “discount” method ALL the time. I don’t think I’ve ever actually cashed in the discount, though, because once I’m there and going I feel so much better and enjoy working hard. I also have a goal I can keep and usually surpass (get to the gym for one hour 2X per week). Very helpful! I love the idea of keeping your things in the car…that will help me avoid the trap of getting home and getting comfy.

  3. Margaret Reyes Dempsey February 1, 2011 at 2:00 am #

    Great post! Discounts are a winner for me every time.

    I can’t wait to check out the link to the bath products. Thanks!

  4. Lisa Creech Bledsoe February 1, 2011 at 12:40 pm #

    Thanks, Chicas.

    Isn’t it weird how we rarely cash in the Discounts? I guess we figure, “Hell, we’re here, might as well do this thang.”

    (Heather, congrats on your pink comeback! Here’s to keeping our gloves up, right?)

  5. Laura February 1, 2011 at 12:42 pm #

    Ha! Great post! I use the discount method a lot. But, like you all said… I never really cash in on my discount (maybe sometimes).

    I also use the “Well, I do pay to train.” I like to get the most out of my money πŸ˜‰

  6. Mary February 1, 2011 at 2:27 pm #

    Get in there and get started with SOMETHING. I was the same way this AM, and it was a run day. I decided to start with a warm-up. Then it was a mile. Then it was another half of a mile. Then it was the elliptical instead of keeping up with the running. The reward? Being a little gentle on my lower half and then stretching and foam rolling that junk out. Not as hard or as intense, but better than nothing…and that first mile was faster than normal…and easier too!

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe February 1, 2011 at 3:26 pm #

      AMEN to that, Mary.

      A writing friend of mine (Hello, GBCrush!) once told me, when I got overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff I wasn’t getting written, “Even if you don’t finish everything today, at least START today.”

      Sounds like you pulled it off. Good on ya. Stay strong!

  7. niamh February 7, 2011 at 6:29 pm #

    That berry-smoothie sounds awesome! I’d leave out the creatine but otherwise will be loading that up later in the week πŸ™‚

  8. Sine Botchen February 19, 2011 at 10:32 am #

    Overcoming inertia is my biggest issue. Once I force myself to get moving I’m usually ok. I also do the “lower goal” method. I tell myself that I’m only going to ride 10 miles and before I know it I’ve churned out 30 miles. Having said that, I really need to pop in my contacts, load up my gear and go ride now. kthxbye.

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe February 22, 2011 at 10:22 am #

      LOL! Hope you got a good ride in, SB.

      Inertia only hits me hard if I am out of my regular routine. I have some big changes in work/life coming up and I know that keeping my training on the steady is going to be a major challenge. Gotta keep that “lower goal” thing in mind.

  9. Shannon November 4, 2014 at 12:02 pm #

    When I REALLY don’t want to workout… I putz around forever at home finding all sorts of bizzare things to do (oh, let’s scrub the egg cups in the fridge!) and I tell myself the whole time that the work I’m dreading will be OVER FASTER IF I JUST START. So the whole… the sooner you START this, the sooner it can be OVER… seems to help me get ‘er done. Ripping the band-aid….

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe November 4, 2014 at 12:05 pm #

      THE EGG CUPS IN THE FRIDGE! That is choice. And I totally get it. And it’s still really funny.

  10. Jean March 9, 2015 at 4:24 am #

    Ah, this is awesome! Can’t wait to try this out! Thanks for sharing Lisa.

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