How to Stay Motivated To Work Out

Good morning! How’s everyone doing today?

I’ve got a busy one ahead of me – lots of meetings. But I already knocked out my workout this morning, bright and early! I love getting in early runs and being done the rest of the day.


The sunrise wasn’t quite as epic as it was last week when I did this route for my 14 mile training run, but it was still a beautiful morning to be out by the water – a little misty and hazy with a pretty pink sky.


And a huge red sun!


My blogger buddy Heather and I met up at 6 a.m. and set out for 7 miles, opting for my standard favorite out and back route down along the water.


It’s funny how last week I was doing the exact same route at almost the exact same time, but twice the distance, and I felt WAY better. This morning I felt pretty tired and sluggish. I was glad to have good company for the run – this would have been a rough one if I were alone!


For our last mile, we tackled the massive mile long hill from Rosslyn back up to Courthouse. Done and done! We kept a great pace – I was surprised when I looked down and saw 8:51 average pace! (I’m still borrowing my friend Sarah’s Garmin for now – I ordered a new one that will come soon since mine is still broken, stay tuned!)


Thanks for the miles, Heather! Getting up for an early run is never easy but it’s a hell of a lot easier when you have someone fun to meet. I’m never pumped when my alarm clock goes off, but I usually am once we’re out and moving. And if all else fails, I’ll at least be happy when we’re done, knowing what I’ve accomplished before most people’s day has even begun! I was talking to one of my AnneTheRD clients last week during a counseling session and shared something that my friend Lauren said to me on Twitter recently:

“I really regretted that workout.” — said no one, ever. :)

Remember that next time you’re thinking of bailing on yourself!

The other thing that really helps to keep me motivated to work out, besides remembering how awesome I’ll feel after it, is to reframe workouts away from the mentality that they are something you HAVE to do, and instead think of it as something you have the privilege of doing. I like looking at workouts as my “me time” – my time to get away from work, from my computer and my phone, and just enjoy some time either catching up with a friend or just getting lost in my own thoughts. It’s such a great destresser. Lori, my favorite instructor and the owner at Franklin Street Yoga in Chapel Hill, often says during class to think of your time that you take for yourself to exercise as a gift. I would agree. Exercise isn’t some annoying obligation you have to cross of your list – it’s your time to take care of yourself and enjoy a break from the rest of your crazy day. It might not always be enjoyable, but thinking of it like that will certainly help to make it at least a little more enjoyable, especially if you try to choose activities that you find fun. For example, I’m not a big fan of the gym – I used to go use the elliptical and use the weight machines but I always found it super boring and as a result, I never wanted to do it. So now, I focus on running outside with friends, yoga, and either CrossFit or boot camp classes, which I love for the social aspect (and the awesome workout). Making exercise more fun AND thinking of it as my special time for myself has made all the difference for me. Try it! :) I’m in way better shape than I used to be when I just did the gym thing on my own and I’m having a lot more fun, too.

Speaking of CrossFit, I hit up a class last night. It was great to be back – I haven’t been very frequently lately with all the travel and running I’ve been doing, but I want to make sure to keep going at least once per week to keep my strength up. Yoga and swimming are great for cross-training but it’s good to mix it up, especially since I’m doing the Tough Mudder in a couple months and need to stay strong!


Each CrossFit class has a warm up, a strength portion, and a WOD (workout of the day). Last night, our strength portion was to work on pull ups! The guys and any of the girls who were strong enough did weighted pull ups (in which you do pull ups with additional weights around your waist – hardcore!), and the rest of us just worked on regular pull ups. Instead of using a band to do the pull ups, the coach last night had me kind of stand on his hands to do the pull ups. This meant that instead of always having the same amount of assistance like with a band, I could use my legs less during the earlier reps when my arms were fresh, and a little more later when I was tired. He said this was a lot better for strength building. I liked it!


As usual for the workout, I was rocking my Reebok finest. On bottom I’m wearing my CrossFit Nano 3.0s and the Performance Capris, both of which I received from Reebok at the CrossFit Games a few weeks ago. I’m still loving both! The shoes feel great even if running is involved in the WOD and the pants are very comfy and a flattering fit. On top, I’m wearing a cute tank I picked up while at the CrossFit Games – it has the Games logo and “Forging Elite Fitness” on one side. Unfortunately I don’t see it online!

For our WOD last night, we did the following 8 minute AMRAP (as many rounds as possible — I made it 4 rounds):

  • Run down the block
  • 10 overhead squats

I’m terrible at overhead squats – strength wise, I could probably do up to about 50 pounds (which was still lower than the recommended 75 pounds for women for the workout), but mobility wise I’m a disaster. My hips are so tight that I can’t get the form down and start leaning forward too much as I squat, which is dangerous with the bar overhead. So the coach had me stick with just a 15 pound bar. No point in being a hero and injuring myself! Now that I’ve gotten myself to where I can do back squats okay, I will have to focus on my overhead squat skills. I’ll keep you updated on my progress. :) I have a feeling marathon training isn’t going to do me any favors on the tight hip front…

Matt had to work late last night and missed CrossFit, so when I got home I set to making us some dinner. I had some leftover Sweet Potato & Lentil Coconut Curry (click link for recipe) in the freezer so I reheated that on the stove top (rehydrated with a little extra coconut milk) and also added a little cooked chicken to it.


It doesn’t look nearly as pretty as in my original post but it still tasted awesome! I also added a ton more fresh Thai basil from our herb boxes. Yum! On the side, we had some roasted asparagus. I know when one thinks of curry, roasted asparagus is probably not the most obvious side dish, but we had some in the fridge that needed using and I figured a little extra green never hurt anyone. :)

Time to get back to work. Hope you all have a great day!

How do you stay motivated to exercise?


  1. 1

    I wanna try crossfit! That dinner looks yummy!

  2. 2

    I think i’m one of the few people that actually likes overhead squats :) good work on the pullups!

  3. 4

    Great post, thanks! I’m going to give my running buddy a huge thank you today for the motivation she gives me on sluggish days:-) Find a great sports massage therapist for those tight psoas muscles!!

  4. 6

    Looks like a great workout! I stay motivated because I really love being healthy and I know that running or working out in the gym is the only time I TRULY get to myself!

  5. 7

    Pull ups always look so easy, yet are so hard. I can’t imagine doing them with weights!
    I stay motivated with a training plan and weekly mileage goals I have to reach. Even if I can’t nail that day’s workout, I find a time that week to fit it in.

  6. 9

    Great post! I love your blog especially the workout motivation and healthy meal tips. I was wondering what time you go to sleep to get up for your 6am run? I would love love love to be a morning workout person but I’m so exhausted in the mornings when I try to get up!

  7. 11

    I am training for a Tough Mudder too! Oct 12th… I need to be doing more pull ups for sure.

  8. 12

    I’ve been having problems with staying motivated lately, but what keeps me going to my TRX classes is remembering how much I depend on everyone there to support & encourage me. If I’m not there, I can’t support & encourage them.

  9. 14

    Love this post, you are amazing! I need to try Crossfit but just have not built up the courage to go.

  10. 15

    Nice job at your workout! :) It is getting extra rough in the mornings to get up to go for a run. Its just getting so dark out… blah. BUT this morning I thought about how I would feel if I didn’t do it/and the thought of having to workout after work… that got me out of bed! :) I been thinking of setting my alarm to a motivational song for the fall/winter months when leaving my warm bed to run is not going to be so easy!

    • 16

      Totally agree – reminding myself that I don’t want to deal with a workout later is usually the #2 thing that gets me out of bed (the #1 thing is that I’m almost always meeting someone else and I don’t want to disappoint them)!

  11. 17

    Love this post! And extra special that my quote made it in :) I love the idea of framing exercise as something I get to do, not HAVE to do. I think I made that “switch” a few years ago, and it is so much better. Loved spending time together this weekend and swapping training/motivation tips. Good luck with your training!

    • 18

      It was so great seeing you this weekend, too. As always, loved running with you! Thanks for being such a running inspiration to me. :) xo

  12. 19
    Candace Karu says

    So excited to hear about your Tough Mudder experience. The CrossFit training will definitely help!

    Motivation is an elusive commodity, but definitely comes with time. Here’s a link to an essay about the subject that I wrote for Running Times.

    • 20

      Thank you for sharing – I’ll check it out!

    • 21

      Commenting again to say – wow! What a beautifully written piece, and so true, too. I agree 100%. “You must persevere when you are running not on talent but on character” – I love this. And you’re right – the true test really is most often just showing up. Thank you for the inspiration to keep after it!

  13. 22

    Having a race to train for is major motivator for me, but it’s nice to take a break from all the training every once and awhile. I like to workout with friends to help hold me accountable too. I like the idea of thinking of your exercise time as a gift to yourself. I often think about how much harder it would be to do every day things if I didn’t have my health. I think those two things relate to each other.

  14. 23

    50lbs is nothing to be sniffed at!!!

  15. 25

    This is such a motivating and inspiring post! Like you, I stay motivated by working out with others. My main workout partner is my husband. Even on days that his long distance run is further than mine, he motivates me just by being out on the trail, even if he’s ahead of me since his pace is faster than mine is.. Like others have also said, I also use training plans and weekly goals as another motivating factor.

  16. 27

    Great post, Anne! Andddd you also just inspired me to make soup tonight. YUM!

  17. 28

    Love this! I stay motivated by signing up for races, trying new things (a new class at the gym, a new race distance), and reminding myself to be grateful for the experience – not only that I’m taking time for myself, as you say, but also that I’m physically able to work out. Plus, the way I feel after is pretty great!

  18. 29

    Really important message with this post. With the comparison trap, it’s so easy to get down on yourself for not doing everything (or being a superman), but what’s most important is taking time for yourself and ENJOYING the time! Life’s too short to be miserable during your “me” time.

  19. 31

    Whenever I don’t feel like workout out or running, I tell myself to put on the workout clothes and just go for a walk. I always get bored with just walking and either end up running or heading to the gym. It works every time!

  20. 32

    My workouts are scheduled in my google calender like I do everything else in my life! If it’s on the calender, I don’t skip it!

  21. 34

    They are bringing a CrossFit to H Street (where I live) and I’m sincerely hoping they have an opening discount so I can try it out :) My tight, weak ankles are making it quite clear that I need some strength training in my life!

  22. 35

    Beautiful pics Anne, especially the one of the river leading up to the Washington Monument at the top of the post.

    It really captures those beautiful moments that make getting up early and running special. Thanks for taking time from your run to take them

  23. 37

    I also like to think of working out as a privilege…I think we often take for granted what our bodies our capable of doing until we get injured. I am grateful to be able to have a strong body that allows me to exercise!

  24. 38

    Great motivation tips! Plus what a beautiful sunrise. Definitely an incentive to get up and run!

  25. 39

    I motivate myself by doing things that I truly enjoy doing. When I get bored with running around the neighborhood, I find some trails to run while enjoying the scenery. Although I really love running, I sometimes need to switch it up, so I bike, hike, walk, do yoga, etc.

  26. 40
    Roadrunner says

    Very motivational! Well and inspirationally done! But keep working on that flexibility and leg strength; need the balance between what running develops and what squats build… Otherwise hamstrings, groin muscles, etc. will cause problems. But, again, great work!

  27. 41

    I always imagine the post workout high to get me moving. I also agree that it is important to find a workout that is fun. There is something out there for everyone!

  28. 42

    Awesome post! I motivate myself to workout by telling reminding myself how awesome I feel after the workout is over and that I doing something really good for myself. I also do a workout that I enjoy doing…like Zumba!

  29. 43

    Great attitude to keep when you aren’t wanting to workout. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of the organization I Run 4 Michael, but it’s a group where runners are virtually matched with someone (usually a child) who is unable to run and they share photos and life updates back and forth. It’s beneficial for the runner to have someone to motivate them when they may not feel like getting out but it also helps the disabled individual by giving them another friend and helping to raise awareness. You can find the website on google.

  30. 45

    I completely agree – it is so important to be thankful that we have the ability to go out and run, go to crossfit, go to the gym, etc. Whenever I am feeling unmotivated to do a workout, I try to remember to be grateful that I CAN, and that usually puts be in a better perspective :)

  31. 46

    I love having someone to workout with to keep me motivated! It’s so nice to know that someone is waiting for you and counting on you :) I also use pinterest quotes as motivations every now and then!

  32. 47

    Anne, how well does CrossFit fit into your marathon training? I have the opportunity to join a CrossFit “class” that meets 3x/week, starting next week… which, unfortunately, is also two weeks before the half marathon that I’ve been training for. My plan has me doing two shorter runs during the week and one long run on the weekend. I don’t want to mess up my first half by being too sore from CrossFit to finish out my training plan (or worse, the actual race!)… but I really want to give it a try to build more upper body strength and gain more endurance. I’d love to hear how you juggle it!

    • 48

      Hi Katy! If you’re brand new to CrossFit, I’d probably wait that extra 2 weeks until after your half marathon, just in case, especially since it’s your first half! I have been doing 3 days a week of running, CrossFit or another higher intensity workout (boot camp, kickboxing, etc.) twice a week, and then one lower key workout like swimming or yoga for my final workout day… plus one rest day. It works for me, but you have to find what works for you! :) Can you start up the 3x/week CrossFit class after your race instead?

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