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9 ways professional athletes find workout motivation

It’s too hot. It’s too cold. It’s too dark. It’s too early. It’s too late. You’re tired. Your kids kept you up all night. You’re stressed about work. Your mother-in-law wants you to take her grocery shopping.

If you try hard enough, you can find a million reasons to skip your workout. Some may be valid – others less so. (Your mom-in-law can probably wait, or master the art of Fresh Direct.) But if your excuse is that you’re simply lacking motivation, that’s fair and it’s preventable. Turns out, even the pros don’t always want to lace up and get sweaty.

Here’s how six of Polar’s professional athletes find workout motivation, even on those days when getting out the door feels like the hardest thing to do.

1. remind yourself how you’ll feel afterwards

“I use history as my guide. If I’m not feeling up for a run or workout, I remember how I’ve felt after nearly every other run in my life: happy I did it, and almost always better than before I started.” – Will Leer

2. keep your goal in mind

“Even on the nice days, sometimes getting out the door can be hard. On those cold, rainy days, it can feel nearly impossible. So the first thing I like to do is remind myself of my goal race. I know the pang of guilt that will inevitably accompany that skipped run. Eventually you realize that the real hardship is the regret of not trying – not necessarily that uncomfortable hour I was out running. When that race finally rolls around, you’ll have more confidence in your fitness and your toughness.” – Noah Droddy

3. train with your buddies

“The best motivation is having training partners. If you plan to meet someone, you can’t bail on them, and it gets you out the door. It’s also more fun, and you have someone to talk with the whole time.” – Gwen Jorgensen

4. distract yourself

“I’ve recently started doing some of my easy runs listening to music or podcasts. Narrative podcasts in particular allow me to concentrate on something besides running. Inevitably, as I become involved in the story I’m hearing, my thoughts drift away from the task at hand. I believe that most days, running requires focus. But every now and then, you need to turn your brain off.” – Noah Droddy

5. just take the first step

“I know that once I get rolling, I can conquer. But the hardest part is that first stroke or step. So don’t think about it so much. Just take that first step.” – Andrew Starykowicz

6. keep a log

“Keep a written log of your running. If you fill out the scheduled run days, you’ll look back and be glad you did it. You’ll gain confidence from that. If you skip a day, that section of your log will remain empty, and will serve as a reminder that you didn’t quite do what you were supposed to. That’s not a great feeling.” – Noah Droddy

7. find the thing that works for you

“I make a new playlist on my iPod, or I call a friend to meet for a run when I don’t want to get out the door. It works every time!” – Molly Huddle

8. trick yourself a little

“Give yourself an out. Some days, when my scheduled 8-mile run seems too daunting, I tell myself, ‘If I get out the door, I only have to do four miles.’ More often than not, by the time I get that far, I’m starting to enjoy the run, and it doesn’t seem like the chore it once was, so I’m able to finish the planned distance. It’s a psychological trick I lean on often. If you get halfway through and decide to take the out and cut the run short, at least you got out and did something.” – Noah Droddy

9. suck it up

“Everyone wants to know super secret motivational tricks and tips. I don’t feel like I have any that people haven’t already heard – so here’s what I think. Just suck it up and get it done. There are days when it seems impossible to get out the door, but I know that if I want to be successful, there’s only one way to achieve that success, and it’s not easy or pretty and it sometimes absolutely sucks. But you know what doesn’t suck? Achieving big goals, winning world titles, and proving to yourself and others that you can.” – Mirinda “Rinny” Carfrae


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Please note that the information provided in the Polar Blog articles cannot replace individual advice from health professionals. Please consult your physician before starting a new fitness program.

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