This is how our brains tick when it comes to sport and motivation
When the inner bastard gets down to it, your good intentions are over. The basic problem seems to be that the “wanting” part of the brain (intention memory in the left front brain area) is hardly connected to the part of the brain that then actually gives the signal to start (right rear brain region). That is:
The intention to do something does not reach the behavioral control system.
The inner hog throws itself between planning and execution – thus preventing the signals from being sent from the left front to the right rear brain area.
Sport and motivation: Nothing works without optimism
Stumbling blocks are for example bad weather, too much work or simply tired legs. So you don’t associate positive emotions with the execution of your project – whether for training, on your diet or in the office – but feelings of overload, stress, effort. The good plan has failed and the dopamine reward has failed. These figures are also interesting: According to a previous survey by the Injoy fitness chain, only 22 percent of those surveyed train because they enjoy sports. For most, on the other hand, exercise seems to be a compulsory programme – 46 percent mainly want to get fit and 45 percent want to sweat for health’s sake (multiple answers were possible).
To counteract this, you need a “positive affect” – an optimistic emotional classification of our action, a good feeling or a good mood.
With these 13 points you get better motivation for sport
(… and figuratively speaking you can also use many of the headlines for your motivation to lose weight or work!)
First perform, then reward
If you succeed, give yourself a present for your willpower – for example with a tasty meal, a great new outfit or an exciting DVD. Stick to this reward principle: set yourself partial goals. For example, plan on following one or two tips for next week – and set a little reward for keeping up. The foreseeable stages and small successes help across motivational lows. Also, be strict, but not too critical of yourself. Sometimes you remain a little below target and are not entirely satisfied – then it is helpful to acknowledge what you have achieved anyway.
Look on the bright side
Make it clear to your inner eye which beautiful experiences are connected with a successful execution of your sport. For example: more intensive body feeling, less back pain, better posture, more self-confidence.
Get rid of your emotional waste
Switche negative emotions into positive prospects. Instead of “I feel too weak for my workout”, I prefer “let’s see how many sit-ups I can still manage after running”.
Do good and talk about it
Recognition from colleagues, backslapping from friends or family is good for you. And motivate. So tell the people around you about your successes. Trend: your sport selfies on Instagram – read more about it below… but beware of instarexie!
Make firm plans
Plan your sports appointments as accurately as appointments for a conference with colleagues or visits to your doctor. And try to be as punctual in sports as at work.
Become a team player
Find a training partner with whom you can make fixed appointments for the sport. Such fixed dates are not simply canceled without good reason.
Bet on music
Music and rhythm can motivate – and distract the mind from heavy legs. So: Put your favourite sounds on your ear that push you forward over and over again.
Stay a Realist
Don’t push your expectations too high, set realistic, achievable goals. If your training results turn out better than expected, your brain rewards this behavior with dopamine, the happiness hormone. And those situations where you feel good require repetition.
If running isn’t your sport, it won’t after the tenth attempt. Try badminton, fitness training, stand-up paddling, surfing, Zumba – or whatever you think might be fun. Fun in sport is the best motivation to stick with it!
Turn on your senses
Don’t just watch your pulse and heavy legs in your sport – use all your senses! Notice smells and noises, feel the wind, the sun and the rain pattering on your skin. All this prevents you from concentrating on the cumbersome things.
Clear hurdles from the way
Pack your sports gear the night before and take it to work. This way you won’t be tempted to go home after work – and possibly stay stuck there.
Raise your fist
Negative feelings, unwillingness and stress can simply be pushed away from studies: Tighten both fists for about 30 seconds. Alternatively, you can also contract your biceps on both sides, which has the same effect.
Take care of variety
Even the best training gets boring if you always run the same routes or do exercises. Power athletes change their training program every six units. Endurance athletes vary the course of the course and play with interval training: build sprints into some units, start some runs slowly, others faster.
Friends for sports motivation more important than money
Germans are most motivated to do sports by their friends and acquaintances. This was the conclusion reached by scientists from the Centre for Health at the German Sports University in Cologne in a survey for DKV. 82 percent of the population under 30 stated that the motivation of their friends could carry them along and inspire them to sport. According to the results of the survey, the younger generation in particular is strongly influenced by their social environment. After all, about one in two people over 65 years of age still assume that their friends could motivate and motivate them.
Interestingly, for 100 euros a month, only a third of those surveyed would exercise more frequently. However, one in two people under 30 would like to be compensated for more physical activity with this sum.
Trend: Selfies as sport motivation!
What used to be the booklet where you recorded your eating habits and training sessions is now selfie – either for yourself or publicly on Instagram or Snapchat. Because those who visually record their successes and results are more motivated – because showing others their goals and progress publicly on photos is an incentive. After all, you don’t want to fail. A study by the Australian insurance company “AIA Australia” also confirms that selfies motivate more sports:
More than 75 percent of women feel motivated by selfies to exercise and a healthier lifestyle. For men, it was over 50 percent.
In the pictures you can follow every progress – even if you only have small goals. Because on photos you can often see better how your own body has changed positively after a long workout. Especially when comparing before and after. Your friends on the social networks will also cheer you on. Share your successes and be happy about positive feedback. This motivates to continue! And get inspired by other fitness soulfies – and perhaps even become a great inspiration for other people who want to overcome their inner pig dog. Many today very well-known fitness influencers like the FIT FOR FUN trainers LeaLight and Jan Körber started their careers exactly in this way years ago.
Fitness apps also provide new sports motivation
53% of the respondents answered a survey asking what motivates them to train: to be able to compare their own progress through fitness apps with that of friends! Fitness apps are more popular than ever: Around two thirds of all athletes now use electronic helpers such as Runtastic & Co. With a usage rate of 30%, digital training plans are very popular functions – apart from the already mentioned comparison function and the tracking of distance and personalized data.
Mental training for sport and motivation? The expert interview!
Olaf Kortmann, former men’s national volleyball coach, explains in an interview why mental training leads to success and what distinguishes a serious coach.
How can mental training help recreational athletes?
Olaf Kortmann: For recreational athletes, relaxation from everyday stress is more important than performance. Nevertheless, they can optimise movement sequences with targeted head training, for example in technical disciplines. You can learn to maintain concentration, for example when changing sides in tennis, or to regain confidence in the resilience of the joint after a knee injury.
How does it work and how much can you get out of it?
At the beginning there is always an inventory of one’s own situation. Who am I? What do I want? Where are obstacles? Then it is important not to make oneself a victim of circumstances, but to change how we deal with them. A tennis player, for example, has problems motivating himself early in the morning and in bad weather. In the context of an imagination training, he can now visualize how he plays when it runs perfectly – and transfer these images: how he is fully concentrated and moves light-footed despite the adverse circumstances… How much more performance this ultimately brings is very individual and not to be quantified in percent. The basis in any case is a solid training condition.
Am I normal when I train with a psychologist?
Unfortunately, many people still associate working with a psychologist with “couch” and “shrinkage”, even top athletes. There is no other explanation for the fact that only about 20 percent of them in this country use this important source.
This brings hypnosis for sport and motivation
An approved method for athletes is the active-wake-hypnosis. For example, an ambitious recreational biker on a bicycle ergometer has to cope with this. “When he reaches his performance limits, the therapist accompanies him with targeted instructions: You feel new energy flowing through your legs, how your muscles can refuel and keep up the pace,” explains Dr. Wolfgang Blohm, psychotherapist with practice in Riddorf in Northern Germany. What sounds flat “mobilizes astonishing reserves”. Blohm is joined by triathletes who hate swimming. You will learn in a trance to support the wet element with positive thoughts: Water carries me, it does not resist, I feel like a dolphin in it. “Such self-suggestions are the tool with which athletes can help themselves after specific instruction.”
In detail: the best sports motivation for running
Again and again we receive calls for help from readers who are interested in running but are simply too bored with this sport. What do we tell them? “Even if running is the most effective endurance sport, even if thousands of enthusiastic athletes can’t follow the argument with boredom – if you constantly have to torture yourself to do sport, then it doesn’t make much sense. Then you better move in good conscience.” But what we’ll also give you on the way: “Give jogging another chance before the time comes!”
What motivates joggers?
The social intelligence provider Replise wanted to know this in detail and analysed a total of 11,267 contributions on the subject of running training in social networks. The evaluation showed that motivation can be divided into four categories. At the top of the motivation list for runners is a decrease (62.3 percent, see chart). Second place, but already far behind, is relaxation with 27, and third and fourth places in motivation are competition (6 percent) and health (5 percent). Particularly in special slimming forums, runners exchange information on the topic of slimming quickly – dieting successes and training routines have the highest relevance here. The social media experts explain that relaxation provides additional motivation for many runners by the fact that running on Facebook & Co. is seen as a classic recreational sport. Running offers an uncomplicated and flexible solution to leave the stress of everyday life behind and to combat the tendentious lack of exercise in everyday office life.
And already a few simple tricks can turn off the monotony, which is so often complained about, from one day to the next. This was at least the result of a representative survey conducted by the Forsa Institute on our behalf.
Of the Germans who run at least once a month, 78 percent say that a beautiful landscape or an interesting environment drives the fun factor upwards.
Running with a partner (63 percent) or in a group (33 percent) as well as music in the ear (48 percent) are apparently effective means against boredom.
Especially now, when the days are getting darker again, when it is more uncomfortable outside and the sofa appears more inviting than the running shoes, it is worth taking a closer look at these aspects.
1. analyze yourself
To get to the heart of your personal motivation, you have to find out how you actually tick. What shaped you as a child? What were the hardest, what were the happiest moments? And why is that? Because these questions are the key to the values that determine your life – and thus also to the motives that drive you. Take this step seriously. It will advance you more sustainably than any tempo endurance run. And when you get to the bottom of your values and motives (best write down your findings in a motivation diary), ask yourself when you really felt fit. What was different then? And what possibilities are there for restoring these framework conditions? Search for possibilities and solutions, not for excuses and problems! If you still don’t get warm by running, just try something else in a sporty way. The most important thing is the fun of movement. Always.
2. location lifting instead of boredom
If you have to fight your way through industrial areas to get to the next forest, it won’t get much better. So first make sure that you run at least once a week where you can really enjoy the landscape. This may mean that you don’t walk right out the front door. No matter – treat yourself to the luxury and accept a trip by bicycle or car. This may not be possible every day, but how about combining the weekend trip with a training run, for example? Just go for a jog to the sea or the mountains: change your clothes and go! Or you simply tread completely new paths and run sections across country: This not only awakens the child’s play instinct, which is surely still deep inside you, it also strengthens your muscles and improves your strength endurance.
3. with the buddy to big form
But why is a jogging partner so motivating anyway? What is the secret behind the joint training? We wanted to know exactly and from the very first hand. Early in the morning we watched the popular running track around the Hamburg Außenalster and intercepted joggers who were accompanied: good friends, work colleagues, a dog-friend, business partners, a personal trainer with his customer, mother and son, a newly in love couple (click through our picture gallery). And even if there are some differences, they all agree on one point: Jogging together has enriched their lives. But how do you find a running partner that suits you? The most important thing is: active search! If there’s no running group near you, just open one. Or call an old buddy or ask in your yoga class who’s running. Or, or, or, or … There are endless possibilities you can use. “The social anchoring of plans is one of the best strategies for finally putting these plans into practice and controlling one’s own behaviour,” says sports psychologist Professor Jens Kleinert of the German Sports University in Cologne. On this topic see also the interview with Herbert Steffny…
4. everything runs better with music – especially you!
Even an experienced marathon runner has to do a casual training session every now and then – and that might be where you come in. If you succeed in simply throwing out time constraints and getting involved with each other instead of doing your own thing, then basically anyone can run with anyone. You just have to be a bit flexible and put the experience above the average mileage every now and then.
Sure, you’ll run alone occasionally. You can use these training sessions wonderfully to listen into your body. But you can also let yourself be distracted by a personal trainer who is always available: the best music! Just ten years ago, joggers were smiled at at at best with headphones. The triumphal march of the mp3 player and ever more handy smartphones with ever better mini-earphones, however, has turned the world of runners upside down in no time. By the way, sounds, rhythms and melodies mainly affect the emotional centers of the brain. There, more and more happiness hormones are released, which simply cover up the effort of running.
The topic is so exciting that scientists have even tried to find the “perfect running song”. They say it’s “The Heat is on” by Glenn Frey. But thank God music is still a matter of taste and not a science: What is permitted is what pleases! But I want you to know: Researchers at Pennsylvania State University found that joggers with music find it easier to stay in rhythm and run more relaxed. According to the study, breathing becomes wider, deeper and more even, and the working musculature gets considerably more oxygen – the training effect is thus optimised. And if you get the right sound in your ears, you can even freshen up your grey matter. At Ohio State University, Professor Emery found that classical music increases brain performance while running. And: “Music in sport significantly reduces the physical stress sensation,” says the sports scientist Professor Alexander Ferrauti from the Ruhr University Bochum.
But be careful: According to an Australian study, 25 percent of all runners hear their favourite songs too loudly. “That is often not recognized at all, because with the plugs in the ear the hearing is no longer able to estimate the volume, says ear specialist Dr. Schmolke from Hamburg. Moreover, loud music is perceived as particularly motivating. Above 90 decibels, however, hearing cells die off.
5. Equipment & Rewards: always new stimuli!
Of course, you can also provide variety in other ways. Sometimes even new footwear or other equipment motivates. Even if you are perhaps more of a beginner yourself, you may experiment with different forms of training (such as ascent runs or the so-called driving game). And concrete goals can also help. Surely there are also motivational aids with which you can outwit yourself (e.g. reward systems in which 5 Euros per training are put into the piggy bank, or the placement of running clothes on the nightstand). And not to forget the supercompensation, during which the body collects strength for an increase in performance at rest. Active break, so to speak.
6. You don’t have to – you get to!
But these are usually based on the thought that you “have to” walk. Please don’t! You “may” walk! You may be in the fresh air and enjoy nature, you may do something for your health, you may bring body and mind on trot, you may relieve stress and let your thoughts wander, you may meet friends and be cheerful, you may feel comfortable and you may also sometimes really exert yourself. Even if it may sound a bit pathetic: The possibility to walk is actually a gift from heaven. All you have to do is accept it! “You’re not going to the cinema because you’re pursuing a certain goal, but to enjoy the film,” says Prof. Jens Kleinert from the Psychological Institute of the German Sports University in Cologne. Kleinert recommends searching intensively for details that we perceive as positive while running: That can be the silence in the forest, the chirping of birds, the fresh air or the feeling of pride to have run away at all. These (individual) intrinsic motivational factors must be recognised and further developed. They bring us a big step forward on the way from having to want to be allowed!
7. find your rhythm
Just as nature needs the seasons, man is also polarized to rhythms – as far as our basic daily routine is concerned. So about when we sleep and when we are awake (biorhythm), in terms of stress and relaxation phases, but also in terms of our physical training. In principle, trotting at the same pace is completely unnatural! And that this is neither lasting fun nor fundamentally improves the fitness, only logically. So if you have motivation problems, don’t look to yourself for the reasons first! Rather, look at your training and see if it follows a rhythm – if it is varied. This does not mean that you should do an interval training every day, but break through every monotony and approach your training more playfully. Avoid running each lap with a stopwatch and get angry if you need thirty seconds longer than usual.
8. activate your running flow
“I definitely had a runner’s high today.” “I was totally in the flow.” “I can’t remember what I was thinking about when I was walking.” What is behind these mysterious, trance-like experiences that well-trained runners in particular often report? And how the hell do we reach them? One thing is certain: It is not the days on which we were able to “think really well” while running and have already gone through the dates for the coming week in our minds. The intellectual father of the flow model is Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Hungarian-American professor of psychology. He described the flow as being completely absorbed in an activity or intoxication. Csikszentmihalyi’s criteria for the flow experience: The activity should be playful and creative, we need direct feedback on what we are doing (for example, that of the muscles when speeding up), and our full concentration should be on the activity. Let’s then realize that our legs are just doing a lot and we still feel good when we “fly” across country and the obstacles are real tasks, but we still master them – then we are most likely in the middle of the flow channel! The chance of flow increases if you train in a varied way. Monotonous trotting has little to do with playful creativity and focus. But important: Not every run can be a flow experience.