It’s been years since I graduated and took my last steps off of a wrestling mat. Still, this time of year brings back vivid memories of long cold bus rides across the city and late night workouts with the best group of kids I’ve ever known. Wrestling was tough, there’s no doubt about it; leaving the mat with a black eye or bloody nose was all in a day’s fun. But it taught me something that helps me even after all these years: there is no shortcut to success. To achieve your goals takes some real work and, maybe, a few late nights.
During the time of year when temperatures drop below zero and the roads get slick, it’s easy to make excuses for not keeping up with your workouts. An early morning hour at the gym suddenly becomes an hour of extra sleep. Before you know it, spring arrives and you’ve spent your whole winter hibernating.
If you have trouble staying motivated during the winter months, here are a few tips that will keep you from playing catch-up during the spring:
1. Set Goals and WRITE THEM DOWN
As a senior captain of my wrestling team, I knew that it was my responsibility to keep the team motivated, hydrated, and pushing their limits during every practice. My goal was to lead the team to playoffs. However, that was not every person’s priority. Some wrestlers wanted an undefeated record, some wanted a better record than their previous year, and some just wanted to improve their health.
Regardless of what they are, setting goals is the first step in personal progress and will keep you motivated when the alarm goes off. But the goals you set will only do so much if you keep them in your head. Things are much easier to forget or alter when they aren’t set in stone. Write your goals down and keep them somewhere you see often. Try hanging them on your fridge or setting a reminder on your phone.
2. Grab a friend
Running sprints at 6:30 am on a Saturday morning DID NOT sound like a treat when I was in high school. In those days, any hours ending in AM were designated sleeping hours. The only thing dragging me out of bed was knowing that my whole team would be right next to me.
If you have trouble keeping up with your fitness during the winter, find a friend to work out with. Not only will it give you someone to talk to, but it will give you a reason to work harder and ensure that you don’t skip out on that early morning run!
3. Create competition
There’s no motivation quite like a friendly competition between friends. During the wrestling season, we turned everything we could into a contest:who could do the most pull-ups, who could climb the pegboard fastest, or the classic ‘King of the Mat’. These little games were the perfect way to keep morale up during the colder months and ensure that everyone was working their hardest.
Now you don’t have to go challenging your friends and family to arm wrestling matches every week, but you should find something like this to do with your gym partner, or even yourself. Keep track of your personal bests and work to out perform yourself each time; challenge your partner to a race; even something as simple as adding up time spent exercising each week are all great ways to stay motivated.
There’s a reason wrestlers are one of the closest knit sports communities around. We spend hours and hours battling the cold, sweating to death, and working hard. Cold weather brings back great memories for me, and help keep me motivated to continue working hard. Take these three motivational techniques, and keep yourself motivated as well!