When I run, I feel like I’m getting closer to my goal. Whatever that goal might be
It seems that almost everyone these days is embracing exercise. But if you still have a hard time motivating yourself to get out and running, this post is for you. PR consultant Dina Mostovaya talks about the benefits of exercise, and how to find the motivation to get — and stay — active.
Exercise for me is an activity like any other. In developed countries, people go running, or join fitness clubs or cycle groups. But in less developed countries, children run from one village to the other (because that’s the only way they can get there) or play football (because they are spending time with their friends).
Wouldn’t you say that’s exercise? Just like diving on vacation is also exercise. In one way or another, we train, because exercise is just an activity. The important thing is to be consistent about doing it.
It’s also important to determine what motivates you. For some people motivation is internal, but others need an external boost. So, before you sit down to plan your training, decide what (or who) will be your fuel. Perhaps your personal trainer will motivate and encourage you along the way… or maybe it will be your pure willpower and desire to keep going.
As soon as you understand what drives you, you’ll be able to mindfully build your relationship with exercise.
Here’s what helps me.
1. I make a conscious decision to be energetic throughout the day
I often write that I exercise in the mornings. A run or a workout first thing in the day energizes me, and provides me with the motivation to deal with all my tasks.
It also has a positive effect on my eating habits. Will I eat fries for lunch if I trained in the morning? No. Will I drink wine if I went for an afternoon run in the park? No. In addition to energy and discipline, exercise helps me to develop healthy dietary habits.
2. I love trying new things
I love variety and new experiences. In Moscow, exercise is a part of my daily routine, but during business trips and on vacation I like to experiment. The desire to put myself in fresh and challenging circumstances is part of what motivates me to exercise regularly.
For example, I’ve tried barre classes in New York, I’ve taken pilates classes in London, and I’ve been to hot yoga in San Francisco. There are tons of yoga studios in the US, so you can try different kinds. You would think that yoga and pilates classes are quite standard, but everyone teaches them differently.
Barre, for instance, is an hour-long low-intensity workout for all of your muscle groups, and there are no breaks between the sets. You begin with work on your biceps, then triceps, then shoulders, back, and chest muscles. Following that you do the legs and core. Your muscles are burning… you feel your body and the impact of the session immediately. The class ends with stretching.
It was in New York that I went to Sonic Yoga (and didn’t like it) before trying a barre class at Exhale the next day. The Americans almost always combine yoga with a short meditation, so the training session is both a physical and a spiritual exercise. You are taught to be grateful to your body. I was blown away by my first barre class at Exhale and I bought a membership in the club right away.
3. It’s a space for soul-searching
Exercise helps me to understand myself. I have noticed, for example, that I can’t meditate during yoga; I’m unable to concentrate on the silence. But when I run or do barre, my brain easily turns off and I can even forget myself. I once went running in Regent’s Park in London, tuned out completely, and then came back to my senses with three kilometers behind me.
Exercise shows you your boundaries: how strong your willpower and discipline are, and how strict you can be towards yourself; whether you are inclined to pity yourself, or whether you can be resilient.
I recently read Phil Knight’s book Shoe Dog. He has some interesting things to say about willpower: “The art of competing, I’d learned from track, was the art of forgetting. You must forget your limits. You must forget your doubts, your pain, your past. You must forget that internal voice screaming, begging, “Not one more step!” And when it’s not possible to forget it, you must negotiate with it.”
4. I want to live a long life
I don’t smoke and I never have. I like red wine, but I try to limit myself to drinking it two to three times a month.
During all of my presentations, I say that I want to work until I’m at least 70 years old. Many people laugh at that. But I’ve got good genes, and the rest is up to me.
In November 2018, a group of researchers published a report saying that high-intensity workouts and endurance training slow down ageing. Compared with resistance training, they rejuvenate the cells faster and better. Cardio workouts strengthen the heart and fuel the muscles with oxygen, which is why we experience a surge of energy after running or swimming.
This doesn’t mean that resistance training is useless. You can alternate resistance training with other types of exercise, or finish it off with a short run. I really do believe that exercise helps us live longer: our body needs movement… we were built for this.
5. I want to feel closer to nature
I spend most of my time inside: at home or in cafés or taking a taxi. So running is often my only chance to go to the park and spend some time with nature. It’s my time to enjoy the shining sun, the singing birds, and the smell of the flowers and the grass…
When I’m on vacation, I always run on the beach — this gives me enormous pleasure, and a feeling of being at one with nature and the world. The sound of the waves is like music for the soul.
Last summer, the weather in Moscow was excellent, and I regularly took my yoga mat and went training in the park. I performed resistance training using my body weight, and enjoyed the surrounding greenery at the same time.
6. I want to be proud of myself
I am filled with pride every time I complete an intense workout or overcome my laziness. I give myself generous praise. The process of constantly surmounting obstacles helps me to build up self-confidence in my daily life: I know that successful completion of a workout means that I’ll be able to achieve my other goals, and find the strength to solve difficult problems.
At the same time, I have my good days and my bad days when it comes to exercise. It’s important to find your balance. Moreover, when I run, I feel like I’m getting closer to my goal, whatever that goal might be. I’m catching up with each of my goals in my head.
7. I want to be a part of the “circle”
Exercise is what successful, ambitious and self-confident people do. Right now, I’m one of them, and I want to stay in the company of such people forever.
The feeling of being an “insider,” when you have something to share in a conversation, is very important for communication.
When I’m with entrepreneurs, I like to discuss which London parks are the best for running, which meditation app to use, and what to eat before a workout.
8. I admire other women who exercise
I often observe older women who exercise. Especially Europeans; there’s a special charm to them! When I see an attractive athletic woman run past me, it’s enough to make me stop and watch her.
When I exercise, I become the woman I dream of being — that older woman who runs in the mornings and looks amazing. She is what I am now. I steel myself and it strengthens my willpower.
9. It helps me clear my mind
I used to run with music, but now I’m training at a new level. It requires concentration on your breath, keeping track as you inhale and exhale. It’s not an easy thing to do for 45–60 minutes straight, and that’s the whole point. As soon as you learn to watch your breath, your mind “empties out” and you run without any thoughts. For me, it’s an excellent way to relax and keep my mind off work.
10. The track is my catwalk
I like to buy new workout clothes, to keep an eye on other athletes’ style, to peek at the coaches’ uniforms in the Nike Training app. Before, I liked to wear bright colors, but recently I’ve made a switch to black, and I feel like a Hollywood star :)
When I buy a new outfit, I can’t wait to go for a run. The desire to look fashionable even during workouts is an excellent way to build a long-term relationship with exercise.
11. I can set goals without competing
There’s no greater satisfaction than to achieve your personal goals. Prior to each workout, I always ask myself: what do I want? What do I have the strength for? And I always analyze the week that’s passed and the week ahead. If I haven’t had a cardio workout, I go for a run. If I won’t have time to train from Wednesday to Saturday, then I’ll do resistance training for at least 45 minutes that day.
Pilates Anytime is an excellent app.
Asana Rebel is a yoga app. You can set your goals, track your achievements and choose classes and programs depending on how much time you have.
Nike Training Club. This app has more than 200 sets of exercises, from yoga to resistance training for muscle gain. You select the duration and intensity of your workout, your desired work load, and the type of workout you want. You can search for exercises by muscle group, and you can work out with or without equipment. You’ll find Cristiano Ronaldo, Michael Jordan, Serena Williams, Sydney Dwyer and other athletes among the coaches.