Let’s face it: it’s hard to feel motivated to exercise all the time – even if you’re a professional athlete and you’re getting paid to train. Life is busy, with so many things competing for our time – both important and not so much. Meeting a big deadline at work is important, while watching “just one more” episode of a show on Netflix arguably is not. But what about exercise? Like any form of self-care, we often put exercise at the bottom of the list when things get busy…and even when things aren’t so busy?
But don’t feel down on yourself for having days when you just don’t feel like working out. These fluctuations are a part of life. We know that exercise keeps us healthy and active, and training for a goal like a 5K race, an event ride, or a triathlon is the means to getting closer to a significant life achievement.
Assuming your lack of momentum to exercise is mental, not physical (i.e. you’re coming down with something), how do you get going? For me, it’s having a system, or process, that I can execute without having to expend too much mental energy. This system creates motivation, because motivation follows action – not the other way around.
Interestingly, this kind of system – let’s call it a “pre-game ritual”- works really well for all kinds of things we don’t feel motivated to do. It starts a cascade of internal events that pull you into a state of mind that’s ready to succeed at whatever it is you’re doing.
Pre-game rituals are nothing new – they’ve been used by professional athletes, performers, and high performing executives forever. Let’s look at a way you can create your own pre-game ritual for exercise.