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The Bullhorn, Issue #015 -- Monthly Motivator for June 2007
June 15, 2007
Just the right push to succeed!
Negative thoughts: Motivation’s Kryptonite
There have been so many occasions when I’ve laid in bed and talked myself out of running or exercising…without my cheek even lifting up from the pillow! It’s the same mental barrage of negativity that I get in the first few minutes of jogging...thoughts about walking or resting…or anything to make me stop moving. But then it happens. A wave of confidence rolls in, and the feelings of wanting to quit seem to melt into a feeling of accomplishment and pride. And before I know it, the workout is done and it’s become one of the highpoints of my day.
Most of the limiting factors in life are those that we artificially place upon ourselves, very few of which are obstacles that can not be overcome. How often do you talk yourself out of trying, starting, or continuing a workout routine? To succeed in our fitness and training plans we need to overcome these negative thoughts and respond with our own self-generated barrage of positive thoughts. Motivation is like a snowball rolling down a ski slope…put time and effort into that initial push and you’ll gain enough momentum and speed to carry you though the end.
There are many mental “tricks” you can do to get started and keep going…Sometimes I start morning runs with the thought, “just get through the first mile”…because I know that after I run that first mile I’ll be awake and invigorated to complete the rest of the workout. Or other times I’ll repeat a motivational phrase to myself to stay focused such as, “I feel good”…”Just do it”…”Keep going”…or ”Getting stronger”. Try using whatever mantra that works best for you. This really can be quite effective at drowning out the negative thoughts that encourage us to quit…or never start.
Negative thoughts can creep in our minds when we least expect it, and slowly spread like a motivation-killing cancer. Fight back with optimism, hope, determination, and positive thoughts. We are all much stronger and more capable than we give ourselves credit for. Don’t be afraid to push yourself through that first few minutes of the workout when your body is fighting to remain at rest…once you get rolling, you’ll be hard to stop!!
Increase Your Aerobic Capacity
Many people start running and then after weeks of running the same course at the same pace…they get bored and quit. Initially when we start running, there are some real dramatic improvements in the way we look and feel. This can inspire and encourage us to keep going…and then we hit a plateau. The improvements seem to slow down and it almost feels like we’re not getting the same “bang for our buck” as we used to. What happened?? What caused the slow-down?
When we first start any exercise or workout routine, we are subjecting our bodies to a fair amount of stresses…good stresses. It’s with this stress that our bodies get stronger as we rest. If we keep subjecting our bodies to the same workout…it no longer becomes a challenge…we stop stressing our bodies. When we increase the intensity of our workouts gradually, we can increase our aerobic capacity and enable more of those improvements that we desire.
The study of aerobic capacity usually involves measuring “VO2 Max”. What in the world is that (you ask)?! VO2 Max is the highest volume of oxygen that a person can consume during exercise and has been used as predictor for human performance in endurance sports. A typical sedentary adult may have a value of 35 ml/kg/min, whereas endurance athletes usually have values between 60-90 ml/kg/min. So what is so important about this number? If we can improve it, we can perform better…faster….and get into even better shape!
If you want to improve your aerobic capacity / VO2 Max, try adding a few extra repetitions to your calisthenics, or try a tempo run instead of your daily jog. The added intensity and repetitions will make you stronger, faster, and keep your routine from stagnating. If you use a heart rate monitor, you can use that to gauge your workout intensity. You can also use your rate of breathing as a guide. For example, a good pace for my VO2 Max running workouts is when I can barely talk (80-90% intensity). I usually try running a pace that’s equivalent to my 5k race pace plus 30 seconds.
It’s also a great feeling when you finish a hard workout or when you’ve run that extra mile. Push the envelope a bit…see what you’ve got. You may end up surprising yourself.
Exercise of the Month:
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