Swim, bike, run, write.

How to Find Motivation to Train (When You Really Can't Be Arsed)

Motivation is a fickle beast. Some days it's right where you need it and you're chomping at the bit to get sh*t done. But then there's the other days - the days where you wake up and just the thought of dragging yourself out of bed and putting some clean underpants on seems like way too much effort. The good news is it's totally normal for your motivation to take itself off on a little unannounced holiday every now and then. Despite what social media might fool you into thinking, nobody is 100% motivated 100% of the time. The important thing to remember is that when it comes to achieving your goals, it's how you deal with these little dips in motivation that's going to determine your success. Particularly in relation to fitness, it's the harder days that are going to make you stronger. Your mind is being trained as much as your body and if you can overcome these little hurdles you'll develop that mental strength which is just as important as your physical fitness.  So how do you find some motivation to train when you really can't be arsed? As a self-confessed lazygirl, I've had to master a few methods to keep me going:

1) Remember your goal
That thing you want to have achieved in 6 months time? What you choose to do today will determine whether you get there or not. Keep your goals in sight, picture yourself achieving them, imagine how great you'll feel. That feeling is what's going to get you up and out the door today. I keep a printed copy of my half ironman training plan on the side in our bedroom so that it's one of the first things I see when I wake up - it's a great reminder of what I'm working towards. Every time I start feeling demotivated, I just picture myself crossing that finish line come race day and it's enough to get me excited and ready to go. This is where having a goal you really care about is super important.

2) Just turn up
When you're struggling to get motivated just task yourself with completing one small thing that's going to help you towards your goal in some way. Make it something manageable  - often just getting started on something small unlocks that energy you need to complete what you had planned in the first place. And if not - something is still better than nothing. Be kind to yourself and start again with a fresh perspective the next day.

3) Two's company
Training with a friend or partner (or hiring a personal trainer) can be a bit of a lifeline when your drive disappears. Plan your training sessions in advance and get them in the diary - it's a lot harder to cancel when your best mate is waiting for you on poolside at 6am or you've got to phone up your PT and tell them that you just can't really be bothered today.

4) Self-care and tough love: know the difference between 'I can't be arsed' and 'I actually just can't...'
Self-care is always a priority and sometimes you've just got to listen to your body, not your training plan. Particularly when you're training for an event, there will be times when you just need to give your body the rest it needs - whether it's due to illness or just pure fatigue. It's fine to take time out when you need it - that's how your body repairs and gets stronger. But, sometimes you've got to practice a bit of tough love. At the risk of sounding like an annoying toddler, "why?" is the magic question here. Why am I not feeling motivated? Is there a genuine reason or am I just having a bit of a lazy day? Self-discipline and being honest with yourself is a huge learning curve and an important part of your training. Sometimes you've got to give yourself a little kick up the bum and just get on with it (and you'll feel really good afterwards, promise!)

5) Hard work deserves rewards
All stick and no carrot makes Jenny a grumpy, demotivated girl. Don't forget to give yourself a pat on the back every now and again. Sometimes just reflecting on how far you've come can be enough to get you going again. And if not, plan something nice for the end of your training session. It might be breakfast with a friend after your early morning session or stopping somewhere with really good coffee halfway through a long bike ride. Giving yourself something to look forward to is a great way to get started.

So there we have it, a few little tips and tricks to help you get going when your motivation sods off to Santorini without your permission. How do you stay motivated?

Feel Good for Summer: The Number on the Scales Does Not Define You

So according to a well-respected source *ahem, facebook*, yesterday was the vernal equinox marking the official start of Spring. Finally! Naturally, the Great British weather is treating us to a deceptively chilly day to honour the occasion (I'm typing to you from the depths of my turtle neck), but hopefully this means warmer weather and sunnier days are on the horizon.

It's also around this time of year that all the magazines are going to start telling you that you need to 'lose weight for summer'. For the small price of ~£3.50 you can turn to p. 67 and find out how to lose an arbitrary amount of weight in an unrealistic amount of time (it usually involves doing something weird like spiralizing sheep bogeys or sleeping with a pineapple under your left butt cheek). The front page of one particular glossy I came across the other day had 'how to love your body' on one side, beautifully contradicted with 'how to lose 7lbs' splashed across the other. And that's where the issue lies. First up - where did 7lbs come from? Why not 6lbs? Or 10lbs? And secondly, what's wrong with my body right now - 7lbs and all?

Weight loss as a goal is totally fine. For some people, losing weight is essential to improving their health. For others, having a specific target is a big help in staying motivated. But what we're really talking about is fat loss and how much your body weighs is only one part of the picture. It's important to look at weight in context with other indicating factors - body composition, blood pressure, fitness, energy levels. What your body can do and how you feel. The number on the scale does not define you. When we focus solely on weight, we're ignoring all the other awesome things your body can do, in favour of a number (which let's face it can fluctuate so often depending on things like how hydrated you are or when you last pooped!) Your weight doesn't determine your self worth.

The point I'm trying to make is that wherever you are in your fitness journey - however much you weigh - you are already good enough. You deserve to feel good about yourself right now - not 7lbs from now.

This summer, instead of focusing on how many pounds and ounces the magazines have told us we should lose before we can strut our stuff in swimwear, let's focus instead on how we want to feel. I'm guessing for most of us the answer would be something along the lines of healthy, happy and confident. So let's start making realistic, empowering plans to get us there. Let's make a commitment to our health and wellbeing now, instead of faffing around with sheep bogeys 1 week before a holiday because a glossy has told us it's the new *thing* for instant weight loss. Let's strut around with the sass and confidence of the little girl in that BBC interview this summer, regardless of what the scales say. Let's stop agonising over numbers and turn our attention to fitness, to good food and to the amazing things our bodies can do. Because that is where the magic happens, and that is when you'll feel awesome.

The Training Diaries #IM703

I guess you could say the inevitable has happened. Less than 2 years ago, whilst supporting my other half at a middle distance triathlon, I told my mum that I would 'never be caught dead' doing a triathlon. In my defence, we were standing by a pretty murky, duck poo filled lake, I'd been hauled out of bed at 4am and at this point I hadn't set foot (or should that be arse!?) on a bike for a good 10 years. A lot has changed since then, and after taking on a couple of sprint distance triathlons last summer, I'm all signed up to do my first half Ironman this year.

So, lobotomy aside - what happened to change my mind? Really my boyfriend is to blame for my now ongoing love affair with triathlon. I first spectated an Ironman when he raced Bolton in 2015. It's so hard to explain, but watching all of those people push themselves and overcome so much to cross that finish line woke something up in my brain that made me say 'I've got to do this.' (I can only imagine it's the same 'something' that made me follow my parents around yelling 'I want to do ballet' incessantly at the age of 2.) I think it's important to me to see what my body can do, to see how far I can push myself. Plus, it turns out open water swimming is amazing (which makes up for the stinky lake water and the duck poo), riding a road bike can actually be kind of fun and once you get over the jelly legs situation, the post-ride run isn't so bad. There's something special about triathlon; the training, the community and really getting to see what your body is capable of. It's an opportunity to test your limits - plus you get to gallivant around in lycra and spend most of your time smelling like chlorine, what's not to love!?

On to the race. A half Ironman involves a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike followed by a 13.1 mile run. I figured if I'm going to swim, bike and run my through a 70.3 mile race course I may as well go somewhere with decent scenery so at the end of August we'll be making our way to Zell-Am-See, Austria. Mountains, good food and an excuse to belt out 'the hills are alive' at the top of the climb on the bike course - I'm so excited!

Training is well underway - today marks the start of my phase 3 training plan. So far it's been all about building a base of strength and endurance ready to start working on power, speed and performance. As always with this kind of thing, there's been a few hiccups along the way - a niggly little shoulder injury, busy weekends rushing into London for my Pilates instructor training course and most recently a lovely cold that really kicked my butt. All of this aside, I'm definitely feeling stronger already and I'm genuinely looking forward to ramping up my training to see what I can achieve.

I'll be documenting my Ironman 70.3 journey here so stay tuned!

*stock image from pixabay - I can't wait to take some photographs of my own come August!
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