Ever reach that point mid-workout where you truly feel like you’re hitting a wall and cannot go on? It happens to me all the time – mostly on my road bike. I’ll wake up, get dressed, have my coffee, grab a bite to eat, and walk out the door with confidence and excitement to crush the workout. I’m usually off to a pretty good start warming up and can keep a decent pace. Then, like clockwork, during any effort that feels uncomfortable, my legs feel like they’re going to fall off, my breathing takes over, and I go straight into mind vs. body competition.
Because I’m a firm believer that the biggest changes occur when we go outside of our comfort zones, I wanted to share a few mental tricks, mantras, and funny things that help me during those times when I’m positive I don’t have it in me – but inevitably always do.
I say this to myself when I’m lifting weights and need to push through a few more reps, or when I’m in yoga and need to get deeper into a pose. I find solace in knowing that it’s only going to feel uncomfortable for a few minutes. Ever think about that? In less than two minutes, I’ll feel better and end up being stronger. It’s cool knowing that when it’s hard and hurting, my body is making changes.
Just 30 more seconds.
I have been going to spin classes for exactly three years now and I still cannot make it through the entire fast jog. I can stay on beat for the first minute of the song with beautiful form, but after that my legs immediately reach this threshold and it looks like I’m riding through sand. But with practice and time, I’m able to push through when I think about the sprints in 30 second intervals, rather than the entire three minutes. It helps, I promise.
Visualize a stronger me.
I have an image of myself in my head from my very first triathlon, that I also keep on my phone, when I need a mental boost. I wasn’t necessarily at my lowest weight in that picture, but I was at my absolute strongest – and that’s what I care about most. Thinking about that picture during a workout gets me jazzed to get back to that point. It always makes me proud and excited to push harder.
There’s a prize at the end.
This one makes me laugh because I turn to it a lot. I’ve been known to promise myself a prize at the end of a workout if I give my full effort. This comes in the form of many things, but I usually end up rewarding myself with a massage, new workout clothes, or dining out. It sounds so ridiculous that I would have to bribe myself, but sometimes it’s the little things that work for me when I’m climbing a hill and feel like giving up.
Find a great playlist.
I don’t listen to music when I’m on my bike or out running (it’s more of a personal safety preference than anything), but I do love a great playlist when I’m at the gym, meeting with a personal trainer, or doing yoga at home. My favorite songs can instantly perk me up. Just this morning I went to the gym to do a quick weight circuit. I did not feel like working out at all, but knew I needed to do something before my flight. The second “Formation” came on, I got a burst of energy and was able to push through 20 minutes. Keep those songs in your arsenal for when you need them. This Spotify playlist is pretty great – hello, Drake!
If it were easy, everyone would do it.
Thinking about this makes me feel badass and is something I repeat to myself often. Knowing that I showed up to do the work already sets me apart from the rest and that gives me the confidence to finish the workout.
All of this said, it’s important to point out that I’ve learned to listen to my body and understand when I need to pump the breaks and not push so hard. Once you get to know your body, your mental blocks, and your motivators, you’ll be able to decipher what you can and can’t do. Don’t feel bad if you can’t push it. Sometimes the best gift I can give my body is a day of rest.