Updated: Feb 15
Ever find there’s a certain training session each week that you don’t get done? Or a certain thing you’ve been planning to do which never gets done.
If I asked you why you haven’t done it, you’d probably say that ‘you didn’t have time’ or you ‘just need to try harder’. But just ‘trying harder’ is rarely sustainable. And in my experience it’s not really that you don’t have time, but rather that you haven’t wanted to make time (or you’ve taken on too much) because there’s some sort of fear blocking you from doing it.
So let’s try a different approach.
Mindset Challenge Week 2 - Take your thoughts out of the drawer
Instead ask yourself why you’re not doing the session. Have a brainstorm of all the negative thoughts that come up, and reasons you don’t want to do the session.
Yes, all of them, even the really silly sounding ones, and the ones you don’t want to admit to yourself.
All the thoughts you’d tried to shove into the drawer so you didn’t need to listen to them, plus some you didn’t even know about that were stuck somewhere down the back of the drawers.
How to breakdown the negative thoughts
Often when you say the reasons out loud or write them down, they turn out to be something pretty irrational or easy to deal with. But because you’ve kept them locked away in the drawer they'd grown in power and you didn't have the chance to unpick them.
Once when you take them out and shine some light on them it's easier to break them down. Even if it’s a bigger issue, you’ll usually find that trying to ignore it isn’t helping you deal with it.
Here’s an example: I was always putting off doing my Tuesday morning run
I didn't deliberately avoid it, it just never seemed to happen. Here's the reasons and the rational responses/ solutions I came up with:
It’s too cold > but only for the first few minutes and then I warm up
It’s too dark > that’s not going to change in the next few weeks. Can I run in the dark? If not I need to change my marathon goals. Or I accept it and plan a route (the day before) where I feel safe to run in the dark and ensure I have a high vis harness etc.
There’s not many places I can run when it’s dark and I’m getting bored of them > do I have an alternative? Can I move things so I can run later in the day? If not, do I want to hit my marathon goal and is that enough motivation to deal with a few weeks more boredom.
As you can see there was a really simple way to break down the reasons stopping me doing the run. When I’d left the thoughts (most of which I wasn't even aware of) jammed in the drawer, all I knew was that there was something in there that I wanted to avoid. I did the equivalent of sticking my fingers in my ears each time I thought about the run, but rather than making it go away, that resulted in the negative feeling growing.
As soon as I actually asked what I was worried about I realised how trivial and easy to fix my worries were and I was ready to go when the alarm went off next Tuesday morning.
Breaking down some other reasons we avoid training
It can work with bigger issues as well. Here's some of the common issues I hear from clients and solutions we've come up with together:
I'm worried that everyone else is faster than me > Define 'everyone', have you just cherry picked a few people that are faster? Does it matter anyway, aren't your goals YOUR goals? And most importantly, what's the best way to get faster? Consistent training!
I'm worried that I've got a race coming up that I haven't trained enough for > (a biggie at this time of year!) Are you going to withdraw from the race/ change down to a shorter distance? If so, adjust your training accordingly and get started. If not then work out how to adjust your training plan and get started! Either way not training is not going to help!
I'm worried that because I've been missing training I’ve lost fitness > that’s probably true, but the only way to rebuild fitness is to get back to training. It will come back. In the meantime adjust pacing and the plan if needed until you're back on track.
I'm worried that my training will feel too hard > If it's too hard then you probably need to adjust your training, try going easier or shortening the session. If you're training towards a specific goal then do you need to adjust the goal? Or do you need to do some mindset training to keep yourself going when it gets hard (see my last post on using mantras). Again, unless it's that you need an extra rest day, cutting training is unlikely to be the solution.
As you can see, so often our fear is making us miss training, whereas often the rational response to the fear is consistent training. It's obvious when we think rationally, but that's hard to do when it's buried in the drawer.
So make that list of what's stopping you or worrying you. Avoid doing it just before a training session, you're more likely to respond more emotionally then. If you feel yourself getting upset, try taking a deep slow breath out and relax.
I hope that helps. Do let me know how you get on.