Overcoming Inertia

When I get up in the morning, I always find it a struggle to get motived to go for a swim (or bike ride). That inertia can sometimes be overwhelming when I’m not feeling 100% – however, once I’m in the pool swimming or on the bike riding, I love it.

To help me keep motivated and overcome this inertia, I’ve done two things. I’ve created a Facebook group (anyone interested is welcome to join it – https://www.facebook.com/groups/RJHexerciseTeam/ – it’s a closed group so I need to approve memberships). This group tracks daily exercise. I see may of my friends doing incredible things to support me in exercising, as they too take on new challenges. It feels good to be joined in the journey, but also helps to encourage me to get out as I need something to write about when I create the exercise poll each morning.

My other way of motivating myself is to set a stretch goal. This is a goal that I may or may not be able to accomplish – something kind of crazy – but also achievable. Chemo may make it impossible, but it gives me a reason to get over that morning inertia and get into the pool (note that I only swim in the morning, because that is when the pool is at its cleanest). Most of the time I have the pool to myself. So, my stretch goal is to do a triathlon in December (after chemo before surgery). I am still trying to find a tri that I can do (something in California so I can easily get there without flying ideally). Regardless of what it is, it helps me when I’m swimming in the pool to swim just a little bit longer (although when I bike I’m trying to hold myself back a bit as I tend to overdo on the bike). I’m now thinking of the couch to 5km program. I’ve never been a big runner (back arthritis makes it a challenge), but I can also walk and work on walking faster.

So, what do you to help get over that inertia? To help motivate you to exercise when you aren’t really feeling like it?

  • Becky


  • Oh wow, great question. I am someone who goes through phases where I exercise religiously and enjoy it a lot (there was a point in my life where I would go to the gym, then walk half the way home, then get home and dance to an execise video), or regularly but low-impact (like my pre-natal yoga) or not at all (like since I had my baby!) – reading about your resolution to push yourself to exercise is incredible and makes me feel ashamed that I am well enough but not doing it. You’ve motivated me to think about this and make some changes.
    But RE: what kept me going on low days…
    First, the routine. If you’re doing it regularly enough it becomes just ‘what you do’ like brushing your teeth or locking your door, you know? But you also don’t want to overdo that in case some days after chemo you aren’t able to, and it becomes an added disappointment
    Second, an unrelated extrinsic motivator: I listen to audiobooks while walking or exercising in a gym. (Also while cooking and commuting, but thats another story). That way, I get to finish the book faster if I exercise longer… Right? So that was always one of the things that encouraged me to exercise more
    Third, a social motivator. I have always been a lone exerciser, although I also love team sports. I think it helps to have others you regularly exercise with or meet at the gym to ask about you when you don’t go, or whom you look forward to meeting when you do go to the gym. When I lived in England, I had one such friend. I’d go to the gym because I wanted to meet her for a drink afterwards, you know? We never exercised together (she’s my mom’s age and went for pilates, while I worked the ‘machines’) but we met at the cafe regularly.

    Hope this helps and would love to hear how it goes for you. Lots of love

  • Motivation has always been a major factor for most, the hardest part is getting that first step out the door. The common thoughts of… ok if I miss today I can always go tomorrow and tomorrow becomes the next day and so on….
    Over the years I’ve concentrated on remembering a few motivational stories/events that my mind can immediately go to if i’m heading for a relapse in trying to think of an excuse to not to run today.
    Why did I ever start to run ? The question and the answers I have is usually enough to get me up and out.
    I have a motivational plaque that sits by my Garmin watch, picture of a lone runner with desert looking sunset in the background ,reads ” The race is not always for the swift, but for those who keep on running ” I read this everytime as I’m getting ready to go out for a run.

    One story that sticks with me I read from a running magazine about three years ago, refers to the Disney half and full marathon thats run every year. A guy was training with his running group for the Disney Marathon. About a month before the race he was diagnosed with cancer and had to pull out. His running collegues completed the Disney run whilst he went through about six months of Chemo treament.
    Six months later at his groups ‘get together ?’ he stood up and pulled from his pocket his Mickey Mouse medal (for the Disney Half Marathon). People were shocked to say the least and broke out into an applause. He then proceeded to pull out from his other pocket the Goofy Medal. This represents running the half and Full Marathons on consecutive days.
    Well, after a few brief seconds of silence the crowd erupted into a standing ovation.

    I’ve read many like stories. Not sure why this one sticks with me, but its inspirational and does the job.

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