Forget the all science and conventional methods for a minute. Sometimes you need to make up your own rules or little tricks to get it done and push yourself further. Don’t disregard the traditional stuff entirely of course, but often it’s the small actions or hacks you set yourself that work.
When it comes to fitness, weight loss, muscle gain, nutrition, and much of everything in our daily lives, we hear a lot about the “correct” methods to achieve our goals. But often it’s important to find our own ways to stay motivated, disciplined and push ourselves. I do this with fitness and many aspects in my life and it helps me. So I encourage others to do the same and make their own, well I’ll call them, rules. To put it simply, you have to do what works for you.
I’m no scientist or personal trainer, so I won’t be going into anything scientific. But I know that what works for me is consciously creating my own little behaviours and tricks which keep me going, stay disciplined, and achieve my goals even when I don’t really feel like it. We all have bad days and find things challenging even when we love doing it. And it’s these rules and tricks that help me push myself through it and further.
These really are unconventional and even silly. Don’t follow my rules and tricks of course, make your own. I just want to show you how some small little things and seemingly unimportant actions can get you to keep up the good work.
I’m not really a runner and if you asked me six months ago, I would have told you all the things I hate about it. I stopped running after my early to mid teen days as a treadmill warrior determined to burn off my 150 pounds of excess fat. But for now I am making do with what I have while the gyms are closed and actually starting to really enjoy it. Although, I will most probably jump straight back into the gym and do a lot less of the running when the gyms reopen if I’m being completely honest.
On a side note, a homeless man in a wheelchair was waving me on, calling encouragingly, and giving me the thumbs up as I ran past him the other day which was nice and heartening. But enough of that, I’ll just get into the six things, stay with me.
My first runs when the gyms shut were running around the park several times. With each run, I added a few laps. As I got into it I wanted to change it up and up the ante, so the next time I plugged in my headphones and started running around the neighbourhood. The goal was to create a circular route that would get me back home at the finish with as much distance in the middle. It still wasn’t extensive enough. So I mapped it out for the next time.
Find a good route
My first mapped route was longer, but still didn’t hit my 5k goal. It took an extra lap of my street to overcome this and reach in total about 5.5k. Now, I have added a few blocks on each side of the route which I’m happy with which has taken my regular run to just over 7k. The further out I go, the further I have to go to get back.
The finish line as the starting line is my front door. The circular nature of the run sort of forces me to go the full distance to get back home. However, there are several turnoff points along the way that if I take them will get me back home but would shorten the total distance. I call these checkpoints.
Don’t take the checkpoints
The checkpoints exist and allow me to turn off if I have a problem or if I’m not feeling up for the full run. Don’t take the checkpoints. On a particularly tough day, I will reach the first checkpoint and simply convince myself to get to the next one at which point I will convince myself to go until the next one and so on. All I’m doing is convincing myself to go just one more until I end up completing the full route. The best part is that with every checkpoint, I get a small surge of energy because I’ve managed to not give in to what usually is more of a mental block than a physical one.
Embrace the run
This is a bit of a weird one and I’m sure if people noticed me doing it they would find it pretty strange. All I do is open my arms embracing the freedom of the run and the open air. It looks sort of like a runner who has just run a race and opens their arms in celebration as they cross the finish line. I do this a few times mid run no matter if I’m feeling good or bad. It just gives me this extra impetus and wave of energy that brings a smile to face while a sense of freedom washes over me.
When I train at the gym, I don’t usually have my headphones in. Music is good and helpful, but I prefer it in the background rather than directly in my ears. I find this less distracting. However, when it comes to cardio (which important as it is, isn’t my favorite type of exercise), music helps especially when I’m street running. When I say music though, I mean the right music. I don’t just put on some high energy heavy music. I prefer mellow music that keeps in rhythm with my run.
When creating your playlist if you are creating one, put your absolute best songs every few songs. This will give you an extra boost every time each one of these comes on. This reason why I chose the station that I listen to is because it has this. All the music works with the running rhythm, but every few songs, a song comes on that just gives a more euphoric level of energy just as I’m starting to feel the run become a little mundane.
This is another one that will probably only apply to me and probably won’t work with a decent pair of headphones. I don’t keep the volume of my music at maximum level. I put it on about half of capacity. It allows me to hear the music as well as hear the flow of the world around me. I’m immersed in the feeling of the run, but also feel the movement and the traffic going on.
But what this really allows is that if I do reach a point where the run is getting tougher or closer to the end of the run, I can increase the volume and get even more immersed in the activity and tune the world out further at a point when I need it most. It puts a further spring in my run with a renewed immersion in the activity and my own world, energy, and sense of freedom.
Yes, I know these are a bit quirky and probably not for everyone. They are not based in science or actual psychology nor have any evidence that they will work for anyone else. However, they are the little tricks and hacks that work for me. Sometimes these little somewhat unconventional measures you set for yourself can actually work wonders.
Always consult your physician before starting your physical fitness routine and activities. This is not advice in a science or other capacity. Street running can be unsafe and cause discomfort.