Motivation. The ever-coveted feeling for those wishing to establish and maintain a fitness routine. We all are balancing so much. Working full time, a lot of us are parenting and balancing remote learning, work, attempting to have a social life. I often get asked how I balance it all and stay motivated. I fully acknowledge that I have a lot on my plate. I’m a parent and full-time professional geologist. I go to the climbing gym a couple times a week, strength train and run four to five times a week. All things that require a lot of discipline and motivation. So how do I stay motivated? The answer…I don’t.
Sometimes the emotional weight of dragging myself off the couch and heading to the gym feels heavier than doing goblet squats with a 50 lb kettlebell. So how? How do you peel yourself off the couch and away from binge watching your favorite show, ignoring the multiple slightly shaming “Are you still watching?” prompts? Motivation is a journey, not a destination. It has highs and lows; good days and bad. I’ve explored some of the things I do to try to do to maintain motivation, but we all operate differently and find our own unique paths.
1. Create a goal.
Whether my goal is to train for a upcoming event (Fiji Challenges, Mt. Tomavani – I’ve got my eye on you) or simply to get three to four workouts back in after taking a break over the holidays – big or small, I establish it, write it down, and think about it…a lot.
2. Make a plan.
I’m actually obsessed with my planner. So much so I have a personalized cover with my name artfully printed on the front, but I digress. If my goal is to build up strength, I establish a climbing and strength training routine that will get me there, and I write it down. If it is to build my cardio back up, I set running/walking mileage goals and, again, I write it down. I make my plan attainable, and I build in contingency to allow myself “slip-ups” here and there.
3. Carve out the time.
Ok, this is a tough one. Working, parenting, exhaustion, yikes. A lot of you might laugh and roll your eyes, psh, where am I supposed to fabricate time that doesn’t exist? Well, you gotta create it. Morning person? Get up an hour early before the family/pets/work begins demanding your time and get that run in, go for a walk, stream a workout video. Night owl? Get the kiddos down and then get after it. This is actually my preference…I envy the morning people – I’m not one of them!
4. Find some accountability.
A friend, an online group, a group class (at this point this is also likely virtual), weekly step challenges with a fitness tracker, anything to get some accountability and feel the little competitive edge step in that will drive you to keep going. I have found a lot of accountability through the Tough Mudder Challenges Facebook group and through their 21-day virtual challenges. Having a work-out buddy is also really helpful. Someone to check in with, ask how their day is going, complain about burpees or sore quads.
These four items create the backbone of how I personally maintain motivation and build up fitness routine that becomes habitual. Find something that you love and look forward to. I love climbing, hiking, and building that upper body strength to be able to conquer obstacles like Funky Monkey. Working on a bouldering problem at the climbing gym brings me joy and releases the stress of the day, listening to music while out running becomes soothing. Something that is so important and a key to success is…forgiveness. Didn’t get your run in? Please don’t be too hard on yourself. Had a super busy week at work and missed a week of training? All is most certainly not lost, jump back in where you left off. Life happens, go easy on yourself and remember…you’re a bad ass Mudder.
Katherine Nicholas is a professional geologist who lives with her family in Denver, Colorado. She has been running Tough Mudder since 2016 and has 11 under her belt through traveling the US and Canada. On the weekends you can find her hiking the mountains in Colorado with her fellow Mudder partner and six-year-old kiddo. You can find her on Instagram @geologistkat.