Making That First Step Mandatory

One of the truths about running I’ve proselytized the most is this one: “The hardest step is the first one out the door.” And I stand by this 100%, but I’ve decided that maybe the attack method for making that hardest step, the one out the door, should be more than just…well…taking the step out the door. And of course I’m using “step” to mean spin or lap in the pool too since it’s tri season so I’m doing lots of types of “first step out that door.”

I AM REALLY HOPING THIS WILL MAKE SENSE EVENTUALLY.

What I mean is that, there are things I’ve been doing lately to hold myself accountable for my workouts so that – when it comes time to take that step out the door – I actually have no choice in the matter. Therefore, the step out the door is not difficult at all! We’ve removed the “hardest step” from the equation!

See, in the past, when it comes time to take that first step (often the problems start with waking up for that step, but same issue) – I just keep telling myself: You have to just do it. Once you get your workout gear on and take that first step, or spin on the bike, or lap in the pool…THEN…if you want to quit you can. Just do the first one. And while some days I might cut a workout short, I never stop after that first step or first spin or first lap. Once you get that first “step” done, you usually keep going for a bit.

I conquered the metaphorical step when it got time for that step.

But you know? It didn’t always work. I skipped many workouts over the last year because I just couldn’t/wouldn’t make that first step.

SO! This last few weeks I’ve been trying to remove any options to skip that step. I’m trying to basically make that first step as mandatory as showing up for work. FOR EXAMPLE.

  • I talk up an upcoming workout as much as possible so that I know someone knows I’m supposed to workout. Maybe I mention to my boss, “I may be a few minutes late tomorrow because I have to do a 5-mile run before work.” Or maybe I post something to Instagram like my workout gear laid out for the next morning. Sometimes it’s just telling the kids, “We’ll watch a movie after my swim.” I reference that workout as much as possible so that part of me KNOWS that other people KNOW that I’m supposed to get that workout in.
  • Make a physical calendar. This one is hard for me because my schedule is so dependent on Donnie’s. If he has a run or a bike on the road (he’s nursing a shoulder injury so not swimming right now) I’m stuck on the bike trainer in the morning or I have to do an evening workout. (Which I hate.) BUT! I do my best to actually write down the upcoming workouts so that there is a piece of paper (sometimes one that I post to Instagram applying the previous bullet point simultaneously) that binds me to a workout.
  • Log a workout. I’m not a data junkie. I don’t have a GPS watch or a heartrate monitor and I just finally bought a bike computer mainly because I’m on the bike trainer so much I need a way to monitor my efforts for a workout. So I don’t have an actual log anywhere of my workout. BUT! I write them in my bullet journal. Sometimes I try to see how long of a stretch I can make with consecutive workouts. Sometimes I’m just seeing how many miles I can run in a month. Sometimes I just like the way it looks. Either way, I know if I’m going to write it down afterwards, then it HAS TO HAPPEN.
  • Make other people’s schedules work around your workout. This sounds selfish, but what I mean is that – if you have to plan something with someone and you’re picking a time, try to make it so that you are doing it “after” your workout so that part of you feels like the schedule was made to suit you so you should do what you said you were going to. For example, I met someone for a movie one weekend and I said, “Well, let’s go after lunch because I have a long run.” This meant that part of me felt obligated to do the workout since we had shifted from a 10:30am movie just for my run. This really works for Donnie and I because so many days we’re tag teaming workouts. Like, Sunday he had a 90 minute ride. So, I planned to be off the bike trainer to start my run as soon as he was done. If he had gone through the effort to get up really early so that I could avoid running in the heat, then I was – most definitely – going to make it to my workout. When you know someone else worked their schedule around your workout? You’ll stick to it.
  • Brag. I posted this pic to the interwebs after a tough workout on Saturday. Sometimes letting myself brag about a workout is the only thing that gets me to do it in the first place. Posted this pic to the interwebs after a tough workout on Saturday.
  • The easiest: Group workouts. Make plans to workout/run WITH someone else. This is the easiest way to avoid the First Step Dilemma. If someone is waiting on you? You have no choice but to make that step.

I’ve not been really disciplined the last year, life just seemed to take a turn for the KRAZEE PANTS with new jobs and selling house etc. And I haven’t adapted well. So! Trying to find ways to hold myself accountable in an effort to make that first step almost feel mandatory? That’s become essential if I’m going to succeed in any of my goals.

Do you have ways you make that first step mandatory? Do you have groups waiting on you? Or do you post all of your workouts to Facebook like I do?

One thought on “Making That First Step Mandatory

  1. Those are almost all things I do too! I never really put it together like that though… One other thing I do is make something depend on my workout like I go to the community center to get that single hour of child care BUT I feel that to get that hour off I have to work out. Gets me in there every time I wish I could just nap.

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