These 10 tips for eliminating excuses not to exercise go beyond the traditional advice to lay your workout clothes out the night before, set your alarm across the room, exercise first thing in the morning, or carry your bike pump on the bike. These tricks have saved me more than once and kept me on track (so to speak) with my marathon and triathlon training.
1. Memorize a basic strength training routine that does not require any equipment. I cannot count the number of times my workout plan has been derailed by the weather, lack of transportation, or a sick child who needs to stay home in bed. After doing the series of strength training exercises laid out in Train Like a Mother just a couple of times, I found that I could do the exercises on my own, anywhere, anytime. You can watch a video demonstration online of How to Get Ripped Like a Mother. Sometimes when I am supervising my children on the playground at a park, I will do triceps dips on the park bench, pushups on the grass, and crunches on the rubber safety turf on the playground! Before I know it I’ve gotten in a 20-30 minute comprehensive strength training workout with no equipment required.
2. Keep headphones in your pocket or purse. If you can’t bear to run without your tunes but suddenly your iPod is dead, what can you do? Use those headphones to plug in at the gym, or download a free library book on tape to a media card in your smartphone. If those aren’t options, swim in the pool (I have found an outdoor pool that plays music!) or choose a local trail and enjoy some people-watching while you log some “unplugged” miles!
3. Pack your workout bag with alternatives. The other day I drove 20 minutes to the bike trail only to find that I couldn’t inflate my front bike tire with my bike pump (note to self: repair tire valve stem; check tire inflation at home). Because I’d worn my running shoes and not my slip-on shoes that I normally wear before changing into my cycling shoes, I was able to salvage the workout with a 4-mile run on the trail. Stay flexible with your plan by packing your swimsuit in your running bag, and bringing your running shoes when you plan to bike.
4. Keep extra sunscreen and toiletries in your gear bag. Perhaps you’ve driven to the gym on your day off only to find it unexpectedly closed for the holiday. If you’ve packed sunscreen with you, you can take your workout outside instead. Just don’t store that sunscreen in your car — the heat degrades the sunscreen, reducing its effectiveness.
5. Research your workout alternatives. You can rescue a workout by knowing in advance what your alternatives are. If you’ve arrived at the gym only to find the pool closed due to a baby’s “accident,” instead of swearing “SH!T” and going home, hit that local city pool that charges a small one-time usage fee. Keep a list of bike and running trails and local parks.
6. Store hairbands on your key chain. This tip applies to long-haired ladies (and men like my husband!), and fathers with girls who are active in sports. I use a carabiner to clip hairbands to my keys, but you can hook the bands right on the keychain too.
7. Invest in some face wipes. After a recent workout I was so sweaty that I could literally wring sweat drops out of my clothes. I can hardly wait to change clothes and clean myself up after a tough workout. If I have errands to run or someplace to be before I can get in a shower, I use face wipes to do a temporary cleanup job. I like Burt’s Bees Facial Cleansing Towelettes with White Tea.
8. Plan for injury. If you’re sidelined by injury from your normal routine, learn to shake it up with cross-training and strength training. With your doctor’s okay, try low-impact aqua-running in the pool, or train on the bike for an upcoming running race (yes it’s possible — check out Train Like a Mother, mentioned above).
9. Keep extra water and snacks in your car or gym bag. Not only is it good emergency planning, keeping extra bottles of water and a snack like graham crackers, nuts or granola bars can fuel an impromptu workout.
10. Cut yourself a break. When all else fails, embrace a rest and recovery day. Use the time to readjust your workout plan for the week to make up for the day. Most importantly, adjust your mental attitude. DO NOT let today’s rest make you feel like you’ve fallen off the wagon, so you might as well not exercise the next day either. That is no excuse! It’s even more important that you exercise the next day. Use your rested body to power out a faster, harder workout than ever!
What tips do you have for motivating yourself to get the day’s workout in no matter what life throws your way? Have you ever rescued a workout by having a backup plan? Once, when I had just 30 minutes before I needed to pick up my toddler at preschool, I ran around the lake path at a nearby park. Nothing unusual about that, except I was wearing jeans at the time! Can’t stop me! 😉
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