• JonasH

The Power Of Will

Photo: Martin Kristoffersen

A strong power of will is the ability that all athletes have in common. But how do some people push themselves so hard? What makes them push hard even when they are all alone at a workout? I still have a lot to learn, but these are some tricks that I use:

1. Set small goals. It's incredibly hard to stay motivated and reach what you want if you just focus on that one big goal. Let's say you want to challenge yourself and try to run up a hill you have never run before. You know that if you really do your best it might be possible. If you just focus on the top from the beginning you are going to struggle when you are tired. Find small goals as you go: "Try to run to the closest big rock", when you've reached it you find a new goal: Continue jogging for the next 3 minutes, keep the pace for the next 20 steps etc. The point is to trick yourself to go further.

2. Find things that motivates you before you go. It is very easy to find excuses and start to slow down when you are in the middle of a hard workout. Your brain notices you are out of your comfort zone, you are gasping for air and your legs are burning. It is easy to quit. It is hard to find any reasons to continue. That is why you need to think of this before you have started. When you are rested you are able to think more clearly and it is easier to find a motivational "stronghold". Once you have found something tell yourself: "Remember this when you feel the pain comes sneaking in." I trick that works for me is: If I have some minutes left in an intervall I often imagine easy normal things I usually do in this period of time. "2 minutes left? That is like brushing my teeth, and that is done in no time! Of course I am capable of running fast for that short amount of time!" Another quote I tell myself is: "I am really tired now! That means the workout just started! Let's go!" 3. Do something extreme. This should be painful and hard mentally. When you've demolished your limits once, your comfort zone is a lot bigger. Something you think was hard before is now a walk-in-the-park because you can look back at the extreme thing you did. A hard workout is now suddenly much easier because you can remind yourself of the pain you experienced when you did the extreme. When you compare the workout with the extreme you find the workout easy and you can convince yourself to push harder. NB! I am NOT encouraging you to do something dangerous! You can do a lot of tough and painful stuff that is safe.

4. Make a plan. Make a plan of what you are going to do the next week or the next days. The point is: If you know what you are going to do tomorrow, it is more likely that you are going to carry it through. If you know that you are going to do a hard workout in a few days you have more time to find motivation. Even more, you feel like you are letting yourself down if you make excuses and do not do as you planned. And you do not want to let yourself down, do you?

5. Reach the "top of the hill". Most people do not mind working out at an irregular basis. Everyone can work out 3 times for 1 week. The problem is to keep this going for months and years. The best tip I can give you here is to be disciplined and reach the "top of the hill". By that I mean that everything is hard to do until you are used to it. When it is a routine you do it even at the hard days. When you "just do it" even though you do not feel like you know you have reached the "top of the hill". Another tip is to look at it as you look at your job. You probably do not want to go to work everyday, but you do it either way. It is your job.

6. Have fun. Every workout should not be exhausting. Did you know that many elite athletes do 80-90% of their training sessions at easy intensity? Less than 20% of the workouts are hard. This is because your body needs to recover from hard workouts. Moreover, if every workout is a trip to the paincave you will not last long before you quit exercising. If you have fun in the easy sessions you will find more motivation to give it all in the hard sessions.

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