I went on a little adventure today.
Manitou Spring is famous for a couple of things — most of all, the railway up to Pike’s Peak.
But it also has something very unique in the world.
The Manitou Springs Incline, also known as the Manitou Incline or simply the Incline, is a popular hiking trail rising above Manitou Springs, Colorado, near Colorado Springs.
The Incline is famous for its sweeping views and steep grade, with an average grade of 45% (24°) and as steep as 68% (34°) in places, making it a fitness challenge and a tourist attraction. The incline gains over 2,000 feet of elevation in less than one mile.
But steep climbing at your maximum performance level requires strong willpower. Especially just to get started.
I use a couple of tricks not only to stick it through when it get’s tough, but also on long runs and for everyday workouts.
You can train your willpower to help you with your workouts.
Have a goal!
There is simply no better way to be motivated. Just have a goal. “I want to look good in summer!” doesn’t do it. Sorry. Everybody wants that. How many achieve it?
Find something that you would really, truly love to be able to do. Then train for it. Take me as an example: If it wasn’t for climbing and mountaineering, I would still be sporting a burger-belly (thank you, Markus!). Many times I really don’t want to workout; I just don’t feel it. I don’t want to go for a run when it’s freezing outside. Absolutely normal. But I want to have awesome experiences and enjoy them to the fullest. And that means I have to be strong and fit to overcome difficulties and truly treasure the experience. Keeping this in mind is my biggest motivation.
Mentally prepare yourself
Basically, I constantly trick my mind to not complain about working out. Your body wants to stay the same. Your mind will tell you over and over: Be comfortable. Don’t work to hard. It’s too cold. You didn’t eat much today. You’re tired. You didn’t sleep so well last night. Did I just feel a twitch in my left ankle? That voice in your mind will always be there. But, you can trick it and shut it up. Make a deal with yourself. Make a plan. Once the plan is made, have an inner conversation and say to yourself: ” I am going to do this. No matter what.” Stop lying and finding excuses. This is about you and yourself. Hold yourself accountable. No excuses. Eventually, that voice trying to hold you back will get quieter over time. Every time you beat that voice, it will loose it’s power a little bit more. My workout routine is so embedded by now, I don’t have to fight anymore. I am looking forward to it. The fitter you get, the easier it will be. Know that.
Picture yourself doing it, beforehand
This is something that kind of ties together having a goal and mental preparation– I guess I learned this from climbing. Picture yourself achieving your goal. Picture yourself climbing that hard route. Picture yourself running that race. It helps in many ways. First, it distracts your mind from the workout! Really picture yourself and think about how you will feel. What does the scenery look like? What are the hard parts? Second, it is a way of building confidence and persuading your mind that you can do this. This morning, I looked up all the facts about the incline. Elevation profile, length, technicalities. And then I pictured myself doing it. I knew it would be hard. I still got my ass kicked. However, I knew that was going to happen and I had already mentally prepared to deal with it. I knew that when it gets tough, I will use my mantra and play the songs to get me through (more on that below). I knew how it would feel to be faced with challenges and how I could work against quitting: have a good posture, keep your chest up, focus on essentials, press with your hands on your legs when it gets super steep, go slow, don’t look up. It worked.
Have a Mantra
Still, sometimes everybody just has a shitty day. Everybody. You just don’t feel it that day or, you hit a spot in your workout where you think you just can’t go on. You’re done. It happens to everybody. This is when I use my mantra. It’s nothing special really. No magic trick. When it get’s really tough I just start repeating this in my mind “I am doing this. I will not stop. I will not stop. I am doing this,” and so on. It takes a while, but usually after a short amount of time my pain goes away, my legs feel better, and nagging voices in my head go away too. It even gets easier again. You can literally convince yourself that you are doing this now. No discussion. Whatever the issue, you can convince yourself to go on. And the voice will go away.
Be honest with yourself
Most of those mental tricks have a catch to them– You have to be honest to yourself. And that’s a difficult balance. On one hand, you have to be honest and not aim for a goal that is too high. Aim high. Absolutely. Just not too high. On the other hand, you have to be honest and kick your butt when you know you have to. You know when you are lazy. You know when your workout is half-assed. Don’t ignore that inner voice. Be honest. I would say this is the main reason why most people can’t hold on. Don’t lie to yourself about how good your workout was today. You know if you did it right or not. Listen to that. Act on it. It’s very rewarding.
Celebrate small victories
Once you kicked your own butt a little bit and you know you did good, celebrate it! I started out a year ago running 2-3km a day, very slowly in the beginning. That’s not much. But that doesn’t matter. I did it and I pushed through. It wasn’t easy at the time, but I pushed through. Celebrate that. You earned it. You will feel more confident next time. After every session, you will know you can do it. After every session you will gain a little bit more confidence. Use your gained confidence for the next time – and so on.
To me, a big one. However, I don’t listen to music during the entire workout. I try to keep it as an extra trick up my sleeve for the tough days. If I listen to my motivational songs all the time, they kind of loose their power. I always have headphones with me, but I only listen to music when I have to. When I play my motivational music and then think about my goal, I can break through a lot of barriers.
It’s not always about yourself. In fact, it’s very helpful to have support from others. That might be a running group, a running buddy or a workout friendship. We are very social animals and sharing the pain definitely makes it less!
Support also means having your partner support you! Not only can your partner can hold you accountable: “I thought you wanted to go on a run today,” but it goes beyond that, even if they aren’t interested in the same sport you are. Their support in you pursuing your passion can help you tremendously. Thank you so much BB! You rock and I truly appreciate your support – every day!
And I support all of you out there getting through your workouts! 🙂