Last week my daughter Halle and I headed north to bring my oldest son Deaken home for spring break. We stopped at my parents’ cabin on the way back to break up the six-hour round trip drive. 

I LOVE to run in the Northwoods and so I was eager to head out the door the next morning. When I checked the weather quickly to decide between my warmer mittens or my thin gloves, I was quite surprised to read that it was 8 degrees F, with a “real feel” (or windchill) in the negatives. I looked at the running apparel I had packed and knew I had to make a quick decision to run very underdressed, skip it, or come up with an alternative solution. 

I happened to be wearing my coziest, dog printed, light pink “Cuddl Duds” pajamas. They are so soft, and so… warm. In what I considered a brilliant moment of innovation, I decided I would wear my pj top under my running half zip and the pants over my running tights. I looked absolutely ridiculous, but I happily, comfortably ran for an hour in one of my favorite places. 

This wasn’t the first time I have run in my pajamas. But, every other time it has not been because of poor planning, but a result of having low motivation to get started.

I am sure we all have had those moments, where your training motivation meter either started at zero, or is rapidly decreasing with each passing second. And this doesn’t have to only pertain to training— it can be any chore, project, or assignment.

Sometimes, taking the energy to put on anything more than a sports bra and shoes feels insurmountable.

We all have those days, weeks, months, or even years where accomplishing certain tasks feel like uphill climbs. (If this is how you feel most of the time, I suggest you talk to your doctor, a therapist and/or a different health professional.) For today, I am talking about the occasional  struggle with bouts, or periods, of low motivation. I have some tips that have worked for me and my athletes through the years. 

  • Learn more about motivation. Understand that action is the impetus for motivation, not the other way around. You will not be best served waiting around for a “motivated mindset.” Instead, commit to getting started. If you are really struggling with the idea of doing something, start while allowing yourself to stop after 20 minutes if it still feels miserable. Oftentimes, you will finish the task. Other times, you will stop, but with the reassurance that it just wasn’t “your day.” Move forward with grace and compassion. 
  • Set yourself up for success. Acknowledge the times of day, or days of the week, that you are more naturally inclined to action. Plan to do your training sessions, tasks, or chores that take the most effort during those times. For example, I know I am more easily motivated to exercise in the morning, and that it gives me mental clarity and eases anxiety. So, I do my training then. I also know I am more creatively motivated in the morning hours, so I do my creative work earliest in the day. I leave meetings, laundry folding, and appointments for the afternoons. 
  • Know “why.” This includes understanding the importance of each part of the process toward a goal, as well as the “big picture” outlook. This is not only helpful for training, but also for completing household tasks, homework assignments, or work projects.
  • Try a dread sprint. Instead of putting your workout clothes on and then pushing back your training…then still thinking about it as you procrastinate… as soon as you think about it- just do it. The same goes for organizing your closet on a Saturday morning, or making phone calls to schedule appointments. Don’t delay with dread— take action. 
  • Try to maintain at least a somewhat regular routine and schedule. Habits are best formed and nurtured with routine. When you have established habits, you don’t need as much motivation
  • Whenever, or however you can, prioritize rest and consider where your energy is being unnecessarily zapped. Focus on prioritizing the situations, tasks, or people that fill you up. Sleep!
  • If you are a morning exerciser, get dressed for your workout straight out of bed. Don’t feel like getting out of your pjs right away? At least put your sports bra on. 

And, when all else fails, just do anything in your pajamas. 

Work out, go to the grocery store, the gas station, or the coffee shop. Cook, clean, do homework, or finish work projects. Hang out with friends or family. Sometimes the action needs to be funneled into what really matters— getting the task done. You can consider it a perk of not being a celebrity. 

And although I am not sponsored by Cuddl Duds, I do highly recommend. Cozy, soft, warm— and functional. Who knew?