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Use the PLP Challenge to get your motivation back!

I must admit, I have been a bit of a slacker lately. Firstly, I haven’t sent you any fitness tips, motivation or advice in a long time.

Secondly, I’ve also been slacking with my website, I havent written an article since August.
Thirdly, even my own workouts have been slacking a bit, I’ve been able to manage about 3 per week, but my heart just hasn’t been in it since I got back from my travels and getting married.

To make matters worse, I also haven’t exactly been following the best of diets – I’ve developed a bit of an unhealthy obsession with cake..

The reason I am telling you all of this, is because I know that almost everyone goes through these phases in life, be it with working out, your career or a myriad of other things.
I’ve been making plenty of excuses about it too. I’ve told myself that I’m “just too busy at work” to add content to my site. Too busy to train the way I know I really need to.
To be honest I just havent been particularly motivated at all.

But the truth is, you have to FIND A WAY to get motivated. Sitting around waiting for motivation is never going to help you achieve anything.

When I was training for my first Ironman earlier this year, I was motivated by all of the aura and hype that goes along with the Ironman. It got me up at 04h30 in the morning to go swimming, it got me motivated enough to get up at 05h00 on Saturday mornings to go and do a 100 mile bike ride – these days I find it hard to find the motivation to get in 3 mediocre workouts a week.
But back then, No matter how busy I was I always found the time because I had a specific goal that was grand enough and motivating enough to drive me.

What I’ve recently realized though, is that all of my excuses I’m making are complete bullshit. I’ve just become soft, I don’t have a goal grand enough to motivate me.

Now I havent told you all of this to try and sound ‘tough’, but because I want you to ask yourself if you are making bullshit excuses about your training? Be honest with yourself.

It doesnt even have to be with regards exercising, it could really be about anything you’ve been meaning to do, that you feel you haven’t been giving it your all.

Are your excuses bullshit (I know most of mine were), or is it really just a case of lacking the proper motivation?

It’s hard to get out of a slump when you’re lacking motivation, but what I’ve really found helpful is setting a clear and concise goal, then developing a plan and working towards it. Having a plan or schedule to stick to is often enough to get you motivated, because if you’re like me, when a specific plan or schedule ‘requires’ you to do something, you feel guilty when you don’t.

That was one of the biggest lessons the Ironman taught me. Finishing it was something clear and concrete. The goal was also grand enough to be motivating.
A goal of ‘just getting in shape’ is not specific enough to be motivating.

“Being grand enough to be motivating” is entirely relative. For some people, just finishing a 5k is motivation enough, for others it might be to compete in the Crossfit games, run a marathon or whatever, but whatever it is, it needs to be big enough to motivate you. Mediocre goals will not motivate you!

To get myself motivated, I’ve set a main goal of completing the Comrades Ultra marathon at the end of May next year.
With it, I however want to take a slightly different approach to what is usually prescribed when training for an ultra marathon.

Being strong, powerful and having a high work capacity are important traits of fitness that I value. The problem is, most ultra-marathoners are usually gaunt, weak and emaciated. This is not what I want, but I do want to be able to push my body to the limits and be able to finish a race of this magnitude.
Sure, I accept that there will definitelty be some muscle-loss, but I’d like to keep it to a minimum, so I’ll be doing plenty of weight training and metabolic conditioning in addition to all the running.

I’ll be following an approach very similar to that prescribed by Crossfit Endurance, which has been very successful at helping people complete ultra-distance races without following the long-slow, death-march training approach as is typically prescribed.

A smaller goal I’ve set in the meantime, before I start my major training for the race, is to complete the PLP challenge.
What the hell is the PLP Challenge you may be asking?
Well, what it stands for is the Push-Lunge-Pull challenge, I first read about it on the Nerd Fitness Blog.
Essentially it involves performing a specified number of push-ups, lunges and pull-ups every day, for 60 days. You increase the number of reps for each movement by 1, every day.
How to do it.
  • If you can do 10 straight pull-ups then you can start Day 1 with 10 reps of each exercise.

  • If you cannot do 10 straight pull-ups, then begin with 1 rep of each exercise.
Each day, increase the number of reps for each exercise by 1, for 60 days.
You can do this in addition to your existing workout program, or if you have been sedentary for a while, just getting started with the PLP program will give you something specific and concrete to work towards each day.
It’s not a major time commitment, but at the end of 60 days, if you stick to it, it is guaranteed to make a difference, after all, you’ll be doing 2,370 reps of each exercise over the course of 60 days…
In the beginning, for the first couple of days, you’ll probably be able to do most of the reps for each exercise consecutively, but as the days progress, that will not be possible – unless you’re a freak.

So, break the reps up into as many sets as needed so that you can complete them.
For example:
Let’s say you started Day 1 on 10 reps for each exercise, by Day 11 you’ll be performing 20 reps for each exercise. Doing that many pull-ups consecutively is more than most people are capable of, so break them up into 4 sets of 5, or whatever you feel appropriate.
You can do the same for the push-ups and lunges, or use a different rep-scheme, it’s entirely up to you, just make sure you get to the required number of repetitions for the day.
Don’t spend another day feeling direction-less and de-motivated with your fitness routine, set a specific goal, whatever it may be, and make sure it’s grand enough to motivate you. Then start working towards it!
If you’re not yet sure what goal might be appropriate, then give the PLP challenge a try, it’s a couple of minutes a day for 60 days, that in the end will bring you some great results. What are you waiting for!