Home ContentMotivation and The “Alarm Challenge”

Motivation and The “Alarm Challenge”

Published : December 23, 2016

Do you ever have those days when the alarm goes off for your early morning workout and you think of every reason in the world of why you REALLY don’t need go to the gym? At the time, it always seems much more sensible to cuddle under the covers and get that extra hour of sleep. The problem is that you know the exercise is good for you, and that you'll feel better for doing it.
By Corrie Falcon, Head Coach of University of California, San Diego's Swimming and Diving team
The night before when you set your alarm, you had all the best intentions. However, when that buzzer goes off for any of us, those great intentions evaporate. My experience as both an elite athlete and life coach suggests these common motivational challenges can be overcome.
In my fifteen-year competitive swimming career, my success as a US National Champion was largely dependent upon conquering this “alarm challenge.” The thought of plunging into a cold pool was never enticing when I was snuggled under those warm covers. But because swimming at the elite level requires a predawn wake-up for morning workouts five days a week, I had to invent a method to pry myself from sleepy comfort and into the frigid pool.

What I devised was simple and can work for anyone.

Trick yourself and break up the process. I realised that when you are half asleep, it is far too easy to make up crazy - yet convincing - excuses to skip training. So when the alarm went off, I simply focused on getting out of bed for some tea and toast. That step was a tad more appealing than the thought of the far-off frigid pool. I would tell myself that tea and toast was all I had to do. Once I had escaped the seductive clutches of my blankets, I could re-evaluate my decision to train or get back into bed. Far more often than not, once I had broken the spell of the cuddly covers, I would not get back in.
Then, on my way to training, I would focus on the pleasures of stretching and the pre-training hot tub session. After the hot tub, I would tell myself I simply had to jump in the water and get through the warm-up sets which by that point were never too difficult. In no time, I was actually enjoying myself in a challenging session. Breaking routines into baby steps like these will get you out of bed, and on the way to work out before you know it.
Accountability to a partner is another effective motivational technique, and a favourite one for professional Ironman triathlete, Hillary Biscay. She says that making plans to train with a partner helps to ensure that she accomplishes a scheduled training session. For example, if she plans a run with a training partner, then there is no way she is going to leave that friend on the street corner waiting for her to go running at six am. Plus what a great way to catch-up on the gossip!
Life coaching's principles emphasise the importance of choosing a form of exercise that you *enjoy*. Just knowing that exercise is good for you is often not enough to spur you to action. Try exploring forms of exercise that you hadn't previously considered. If going to the gym at six am has never been fun and never will be, try salsa dancing or tai chi - find something that excites you.
Beyond finding the right exercise, you need the right frame of mind. Exercise is not a chore; it's a way of life and of honouring your mind, body, and spirit. In order to stay motivated in your exercise routine, you must value yourself and realise that you deserve this basic form of self-care. Is twenty minutes of daily movement as important as brushing your teeth? For most of us, regardless of where we are and what is happening in our lives, we find a way to brush our teeth daily. How can we value ourselves enough to make daily movement and exercise as much of a priority as brushing our teeth? Below I have listed some suggested fieldwork to practice with. Sample these techniques to see which on helps you overcome the alarm challenge.
1. Brainstorm three new forms of exercise you've never tried and always wanted to. Try one of them before the end of the next three months.
Idea bank: Water aerobics, hip-hop dancing, gardening, yoga, hiking, cycling, kayaking, volleyball, martial arts, tennis, body surfing, dog walking, ice skating, Pilates, belly dancing, tap dancing, and horseback riding. 
2. Find a training buddy; ask them to commit to at least one day a week for a workout.
3. Think about exercise as something you deserve because you value your body. What is one way you can put it into your daily self-care routine?
4. Thing of a motivational mantra that puts you into the right mind frame. Say it at six am when you feel less motivated. Perhaps something like:
"I honour my mind, body, and spirit"; or "I deserve to take excellent care of myself."

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