The first thing to do is look for a way to distract yourself from the seconds that are ticking by way too slowly and more importantly that voice in your head. So much of everything we do is mental and exercise is no different...sometimes it's all a matter of mind games. Another point to recognize is that EVERYONE has these kinds of days, you may know what the physical catalyst was for feeling sluggish (you didn't get enough sleep last night cramming to finish that big work presentation...you had a bit too much fun last night...etc.) other times they just happen. But as long as you're not overtraining yourself or battling a bad cold it's best to motor through them and here are a few tips to fight your way through a sluggish workout:
- A Sudden Jolt: It may sound crazy, but sometimes blasting yourself out of the funk is the key. If you're doing a steady cardio session, do a quick blast at a higher intensity rate. By shifting the pace of your workout you'll tap into a different energy system (anaerobic vs. aerobic) and muscle fibers. The change in gears can sometimes act like a 'reset' button on your body; when you then go back to the steadier pace it will actually feel easier than before.
- Change Focus: If your intended workout was to do long intervals but you're really struggling, turn the workout into one with shorter intervals to work on your speed and power. Having a planned workout ahead of time is always best, but also keeping it flexible enough so that you can tweak or modify it depending on how you feel is also important.
- Break Down Time Chunks: That 30 minutes sounding really daunting? A mind game that works for me is to take it in 5 minute intervals, or sometimes even 2 or 3. Make it through the next 5 minutes and then only look ahead to making it to the next mini-benchmark.
- Musical Chairs: If you intended to do all of your cardio on the bike but the time is slugging by, swap machines. Do 1/2 of your workout on the bike and then move to the elliptical. Changing machines midway can help as with the 'change of scenery' and the shorter time intervals your mind won't wander so much.
- Envision the Finish: Sometimes, even after all of your tricks, getting your workout in can be a battle of wills. Your last 'secret weapon' however is to remember why you are dedicated to staying fit and exercising. Think of how great you'll feel once you finish and stayed true to your goals.