Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Best Tips on Sticking to a Training Schedule - focus on Willpower or Gratitude/Pride ?

What is the Best Way to Stop Skipping Workouts?

My running journal and gratitude journal

by Kathleen Lisson

Sticking to a training schedule when life becomes stressful and busy is hard for some runners, including myself. Over the last few months I have moved to San Diego with my husband for his new job and gone through all of the steps of buying a new home in San Diego. I know that running brings me pleasure, but on some days it seemed easier to skip my morning workout.

How can runners dealing with stress and busy lives make sure that running and other endurance exercise stays on their daily schedule?

Many running advice and tips articles I have read focus on taking the thinking OUT of preparing for a workout:

  • Lay out your clothes the night before, or even
  • Wear your running clothes to bed! 

I am interested in solving the cause of the problem instead of just treating the symptoms. How can I think less impulsively (skip the workout and relax on the couch of on the beach - it is San Diego!) and more long-term (this workout will enable me to run the Carlsbad half marathon)?

The Pacific Standard article 'A Feeling of Control: How America Can Finally Learn to Deal With Its Impulses,' offers some insight into using emotions to do the hard work of keeping up with a punishing training schedule. Dr. David DeSteno writes that "there are two routes to self-control: cognitive strategies that depend on executive function, willpower, and the like; and emotional strategies that rely on the cultivation of specific feelings." Dr. DeSteno mentions gratitude and pride as two emotions or feelings that can spur and motivate self-control. 

How I use gratitude and pride to keep me on track with my running:

  • Gratitude - I keep a gratitude journal and try to think about what I am grateful for several times a week. Running and my health are two items on my list. According to the article, "The psychologists Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough have found that simply assigning research participants to keep gratitude diaries over several weeks enhanced the participants’ physical and mental well-being."
  • Pride - That's what the race medals and finishers certificates are for! I display my race hardware in my home in San Diego and smile every time I notice them on the wall. Dr. DeSteno states that "You feel pride when you believe you’ve succeeded in a way people will value. These ... emotions are the ones that have helped us build social relationships for millennia, by combating impulses to be self-centered or lazy through increasing the value we attach to long-term rewards."

Read Dr. DeSteno's article here: http://www.psmag.com/navigation/health-and-behavior/feeling-control-america-can-finally-learn-deal-impulses-self-regulation-89456/

How do you practice gratitude or pride? Tweet me at @kathleenlisson

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