Tips on How to Motivate to Get Outside

Sometimes it’s hard to motivate to get out, yet almost all of us, once we’re out, really enjoy it. Getting in a weekend hike on a gorgeous and sunny summer day is a joy. Getting up two hours early on a powder day? No problem. But what about mid-May when it’s raining and everything is muddy? Or early December, when it hasn’t snowed enough to ski, yet it’s freezing cold and slick out? Those are the times that some of us (well, at least me), might need some extra motivation.

Here’s what I came up with to help me get out, get some exercise and really appreciate this incredible place we live, no matter the weather, conditions, or my mood.

My main sport right now is running, so I’ll focus on that. But you can substitute anything — a yoga session, paddleboard, walk by the river, bike ride, ski, or playing in the woods with your dog.

Have the right gear for the weather

Barring a lightning storm or smoke, weather in Tahoe is not generally a good excuse to skip an outdoor excursion. I really used to think weather was a good reason not to get outside. Living in California and enjoying 275+ days of sun can make the bad weather particularly de-motivating and can make us think that we deserve to spend time on the couch with a book as a trade for a workout.

If you’re going to go out in all conditions, you need to have the right gear to be comfortable. Some of my latest investments for a better year-round running experience are:

  • The North Face Warm Tights – super warm, water resistant, fleece-lined running tights
  • Altra Lone Peak NeoShell – these waterproof running shoes come in low and high tops
  • Kahtoola MICROspikes – mini crampons for your running shoes

Figure out what you need to be comfortable and plan out how to make the gear investments.

If you don’t feel like it, only go for 5 min

Sometimes, I just don’t feel like it. I don’t really have a good reason. Maybe I’m tired. Or, it just seems wet/cold/windy or whatever. Staying on the couch under a blanket, by the fire sounds really good. None of these are good reasons to skip a workout, miss a day on my training plan or just plain not go outside to breathe the fresh air.

So, about 2 years ago I made an agreement with myself that if I have one of these non-excuse excuses, I better suck it up and go out. If after 5 mins I still feel the same way, I can come home and crawl back under my blanket.

You know how many times I actually came back? Once. One time. And it turned out I was legitimately sick and was just starting to feel it. And that is totally OK. Rest up if you’re sick!

I almost guarantee that once the fresh air hits your face and your lungs get invigorated, you’ll question why you didn’t want to get out in the first place.

Calendar in your workout time

Just like you have work commitments on your calendar and you wouldn’t think of skipping them (OK at least I wouldn’t…), if you had your workouts on your calendar too, would you skip those? For me, if it’s on my calendar, that means I’ve committed to it and I’m going to do it.

So put your workouts on your calendar. If you don’t make time for them ahead of time, they might not end up fitting in. How many times have you gotten to the end of the week and realized that you didn’t get out for some exercise? For the most part, this is preventable!

That way, if something comes up for the time you have calendared for your workout, you know to find another spot or make the choice, rather than have a realization at the end of the week that it just didn’t happen.

Figure out your excuses and how not to have them

Everyone has their own excuses for not getting out. My excuses are probably not yours. My biggest excuse in the winter, when I usually run when it’s warmest at lunchtime, is that it is too cold in the house to change out of my current clothes and into my workout clothes. I know this seems so minor and complain-y! But it’s one of my barriers to getting out.

So, when a run is on my calendar, I put on my sports bra and running shirt underneath my clothes (no one knows – it’s winter!) first thing in the morning. Excuse squashed. And if I even think about not going, I have on at least part of my running outfit to remind me the day is not done until I’ve made it out for my run. Plus, I do not want the guilt of changing out of my running clothes at night that I never ran in!

Change your mindset

Getting out is something we get to do. It’s not a chore. But sometimes it takes a little extra motivation when something in our day is a little off, the weather isn’t exactly right, or we’re just not in the mood. I hope these tips help you get out a few more times than you otherwise would have!

Not the easiest day to get out! Early December, cold, and getting dark.

Me out in a hurricane (clearly not Truckee!!). What’s your excuse?? 😃

It’s Truckee. Just wait a few days and you’ll probably have the beautiful weather you’re yearning for soon!

Rachel McCullough is an avid runner, hiker, mountain biker, rock climber, yogi, skier and photographer living in Truckee, CA. Follow @rachelmcphotos on Instagram for stunning images of beautiful Sierra scenery. When Rachel isn’t enjoying her free time in the outdoors, she’s leading Tahoe Silicon Mountain events for entrepreneurs, teaching skiing at Northstar California or building impeccably designed websites for her clients at McCullough Web Services.

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