How I motivate myself to exercise


Back when I was a triathlete I trained every single day; twice most days. So you’d be forgiven for thinking I was highly motivated. The truth was, every single morning I struggled to get out of bed to do my morning session. Every single afternoon was spent negotiating with myself at my desk at work:

I don’t  feel like training tonight. It’s ok, I’ll skip it. Just this once. But if I don’t go to training I won’t get fitter and faster. I bet <insert name of biggest competitor> will be training tonight. I think I feel a cold coming on *cough cough*. Is that a little niggle I feel in my hamstring? Toughen up Kelly, you’re going to training. I don’t feel like training tonight …

Every. Single. Afternoon.

The only thing that ‘motivated’ me back in those days was having a bad race.

The problem with this (and every motivation really) was that it could be talked around (“I just had a bad day. Everyone has bad days. It wasn’t really such a bad race.”). Like every ‘motivation’ it could be ignored ‘just this one time’.

Which means seeking motivation in order to surmount the discomfort required to meet certain goals (ie dieting to lose weight, training hard to get faster, writing crap words to get to the good words) is a highly ineffective way of going about things. It opens us up to playing mind-games with ourselves. And if there’s one thing we’re all good at, it’s mind-games (see above conversation).

So what’s going to get us out of bed in the morning if not motivation?

Put simply – Nike has it right. We just need to do it.

Don’t think. Just do it.

Whatever you need to do to achieve your goal, make it non-negotiable that youstart.

If your goal is to write 1000 words a day, every single day sit down at your computer and start.

If your goal is to run a marathon next September, then every single day, head out the door and start running.

If your goal is to renovate your house in 6 months, then every weekend, pick your project and start.

That’s how I ‘motivate’ myself to exercise. I make it non-negotiable that six days a week, I have to start whatever session it is that I planned to do. Whether it is running, walking, going on my rower; I have to start.

And I give myself permission to stop after two minutes if I really, truly just can’t be bothered.

Want to know how many times I have stopped after that first two minutes?


Don’t think. Just do it. Start.

What’s your relationship with motivation? Is it a frustrating one or is motivation easy for you to find?