Mondays can be tough. We don’t often (ever?) hear anyone say “TGIM” (Thank God It’s Monday!) Saying that out loud is almost laughable! But any day of the week can challenge our motivation and commitment to training. Even the most dedicated people struggle with their training some days. We wouldn’t be human if we did not. A guiding principal I’ve adopted lately I learned about in the book “Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones” by James Clear. The principal is “make it easy”. Clear’s book outlines four different steps to help you both build good habits and break bad ones. The principal “make it easy” is the 3rd step in the process. As an aside, the other steps are: make it obvious, make it attractive, and make it satisfying. But I’ll save those for another post.
Make It Easy!
As Clear describes, “It is human nature to follow the Law of Least Effort. This law states that when deciding between two similar options, people will naturally gravitate toward the option that requires the least amount of work.” For example, your plan is to go for a pre-work swim. But, when your alarm goes off at 5:15am on a cold dark morning you have a choice to make. You can get up, get your suit on, bundle up, drive to the pool and swim. Or, you can decide to swim later on, which may or may not happen, and go back to sleep. You want to have things set up to be as easy as possible so that you have the strength to persist when your motivation wanes or challenges arise.
“The idea behind ‘make it easy’ is not to only do easy things. The idea is to make it as easy as possible in the moment to do things that payoff in the long run.” ~James Clear
Schedule Training Sessions that are Convienent
Think about what is most convenient for you and your lifestyle. Early morning sessions? Lunch hour? Right after work? Late in the evening? Everyone is different, think about which options are easiest for you. One strategy is trying to create a workout habit that can easily be incorporated into your normal routine. Do you drive by a pool on the way to work each day? If so, consider doing a pre-work swim. You already drive right by it so it would be very easy to incorporate into your daily routine.
For me, I try to get in training sessions either before or after I coach. If I’m going to be at a gym or pooI anyway, I may as well get in my own workout too. I put my swimsuit on under my clothes for my early morning group swims. When I’m done coaching and literally standing at the water’s edge, swim suit on, workout still written on the board, it is extremely easy for me to get in and swim. There are still days when I don’t feel like it but I have absolutely no reason not to swim so it is an easy choice to dive in.
Keep it Simple
Planning ahead is another way to make training easier by simplifying the process. If you want to train in the morning, or right after work, packing the night before is a must. By getting your gear ready the night before you make an early morning exit easy. And if it’s easy, it is more likely to happen. I’ve been coaching early morning sessions for the last six months and the “up and out” process is now mindless and efficient. This is because I’ve figured out how to make it easy. It’s a little different for me in that I don’t have a choice to make each morning – work is not optional – but you can set up your training to be the exact same way: not optional and easy.
Planning ahead also works very well if you are trying to improve your diet. It is easy to eat healthy lunches and snacks if all you have to do is grab them from your fridge. Purchase groceries and prep your lunches and snacks ahead of time. Portion, label and store them in your fridge and all you have to do is grab them on your way out the door.
Try tweaking the routines around your training regime to follow a path of least resistance and see if you are able to increase the consistency of your training.