You know the feeling, the alarm sounds, and you grudgingly role over to attend to it, pondering the choice at hand; “do I get up and workout?” or “do I enjoy another blissful hour of sleep that will result from hitting snooze?”. While this lack of motivation may be chalked up to laziness, the purpose behind your training may in fact be what is hindering your excitement. In reality, there exists a stark contrast between “exercising” and “training.”
Think of the environment in which you work out. Now think about the environment in which an athlete does the same. The former differs in much more than the absence of a grunting, protein-powder-guzzling stereotype. Though everyone’s situation is different, common discrepancies include the style of training, goals of said training, and most importantly, the community around you.
The mentality of an athlete may seem inapplicable to simple exercise, but they very well may be synonymous. As defined by Erin Beresini of Outside Magazine, to exercise is to move for the “in-the-moment feel-goodness of it;” training, on the other hand, involves “structuring workouts towards and athletic goal.” By electing to train towards a goal, such as a race or an organized competition, one not only eliminates the chance of falling off the path to fitness by increasing accountability, but also gives meaning to the activity.
Maybe it is not that athletes love to train that propels them, but rather have built a system that prevents them from doing anything but pressing onward. In reference to the latter, the system is not just formed from the structure of a program. Community is just as important. A study by the Journal of Sports Behavior found that group training provides the feelings of a "growing connection with the cause, improved fitness and athleticism, and mutual training support." Those who engage in group-based training are more successful in their fitness endeavors due to the "personal growth, fundraising, and the response from family and friends", that comes from training in this environment.
Accountability is transcended by a communal responsibility and support system.
By altering your training goal from losing weight to completing a new task, the motivation shifts to one with a positive foundation. Instead of training to fix what is wrong, train to prove what is right. Prove that you can run that race, lift that weight, complete that obstacle course. As Beresini explains, the key to beating a fitness plateau and augmenting motivation is to “make movement your lifestyle—and train, don't exercise.”