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when motivation wanes

When motivation wanes: 12 ways to get it back

It’s easy to stay psyched about running, riding, or swimming when the weather is wonderful, the sun is shining, and you have a goal race right around the corner. But what about those other times? The times when it’s raining or snowing. When you just can’t seem to stop hitting snooze. When happy hour sounds a lot better than hitting the gym. Or the times when you’re just not feeling it. It happens to the best of us – but sometimes the trick to beating workout burnout is as simple as signing up for a race or switching up your usual route.

The next time you can’t seem to get yourself out the door, try one of these athlete-tested tricks.

Remember why you started.

“I write down a quote or an emotion to inspire me throughout training,” says Melanie Chapman, a triathlete and Polar ambassador from Omaha, NE. “Then, when I’m not feeling motivated, I go back to that quote to remind myself why I started. I find something personal that will bring me joy and consistently pursue that feeling.”

Find inspiration online.

“I love looking up motivational fitness quotes online and saving them on my phone,” says Parks. “Then, when I feel that lack of motivation, it helps to go back and read them. Fitness is such a mental game.”

Give yourself some time off.

“Sometimes, you just need to regroup mentally and physically, especially after a big race,” says John Honerkamp, running coach and consultant for New York Road Runners in New York City.

Go explore.

“After five years of running very competitively in college, I found that trail running really revitalized my motivation to run again,” says Calum Neff, an ultra runner and Polar ambassador from Katy, TX. “No matter where you live, even the biggest cities, there are trails to run. Pick a new place and go explore.”

Run by minutes instead of miles.

If you usually set out for a certain distance, plan to run for a set amount of time instead, advises Honerkamp. It may seem like a minor switch, but being able to set a timer instead of watching the miles tick off can be an effective mental trick.

Try something – anything – new.

“Switch up your gym, your equipment, your workout, or your scenery,” says Franklin Antoian, a trainer and Polar ambassador from Delray Beach, FL. Whatever you don’t normally do – do that!

Find a new crew.

“Seek out a new group to work out with and take a leap,” says Honerkamp. Working out with a group will help you push your boundaries – both physical and mental – and will help introduce you to a fresh group of like-minded people.

Regain perspective.

“When my motivation to work out is waning, I think about how I felt before I lost 140 pounds,” says Tera Norberg, a Polar ambassador from Cranston, RI. “That gets me going really quick! I also think about my kids, who are both special needs, and how much they need their mom to be as healthy as she can be.”

Switch up your distance of choice.

“If you’re just coming off a marathon cycle, train for a 5K – or do the opposite,” says Honerkamp.

Enlist your support system.

“When my motivation is lacking, I look to my support system – my spouse, friends, family – for that encouragement to go work out and give the most I can give that day,” says Tom Parks, a Polar ambassador from Monroe, MI.

Learn from your past.

“As a professional firefighter for 22 years, I look back at things that were beyond my control,” says Brian Manners, a triathlete and Polar ambassador from Robbinsville, NJ. “I wonder if I was a little faster or more agile, maybe I could’ve helped more. I dig deep into the bad moments.”

Think about the people who can’t do what you can do.

“I remind myself that there are people all over the world who wish they had the time, tools, strength, and physical capabilities to keep going,” says Polar ambassador Amanda “Tini” Martin from Reno, NV. “Some are not so fortunate, so if I can, I must.”

If you liked this post, don’t forget to share so that others can find it, too.

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.

A man working out in the winter
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