Sometimes a coach says something you remember forever: “It’s easier to just do the work, then to try to figure out how to get out of it!” My Freshman crew coach, Scott Roop, pulled this one out when grumblings against our torturous dry-land workouts got to be too much. Although we knew this training would bring us victory come race season, we would occasionally waste time and energy concocting ways to avoid, replace or alter it. Instead of repeatably hitting the 17 floor stairwell of the school’s library for an intense leg and lung burn as prescribed, someone might just skip the workout or justify a treadmill run with their girlfriend followed by some pick up hoops as “close enough” to what was asked of them. This didn’t work for us… and won’t for you either. Don’t make excuses; do the work.

I know that replacing the workout with a “needed” extra 1/2 hour of sleep or swapping some interval work for “going easy today” is tempting, but it may not be worth it. Sure, if you are feeling overwhelmed, struggling with an injury or combating sickness, an easy day or a rest day may be needed; but be very certain your reason is valid and you aren’t just giving yourself an excuse to bail on your workouts. Below are 4 excuses commonly used during this time of year and how to flip them to encourage yourself.

Don’t make excuses; do the work

1. You waste time debating: do I do it or not…or what do I do instead? Instead of debating with yourself, plan to start the workout with something that you generally enjoy doing. For example, your scheduled training day is leg oriented but you spend all day trying to maneuver around doing squats and lunges. Do you love to cycle? Start there for 7-10 minutes of your workout before moving to the leg regiment. Do not replace the workout; just offer yourself a compromise to get yourself started.

2. You don’t actually do the work that is needed to make you faster, stronger, healthier. Sure, skipping an interval workout every now and then maybe needed, but skipping it on a weekly basis? There is no reason for that habit. Not feeling your solo interval workout for the day? Head to a group fitness class and push your limits with a team.

3. You deal with the guilt of not following through. Do you ever feel like you let down your teammates, trainer or yourself? Don’t wallow in it. Move on. Look forward. Use this feeling to push yourself harder in your next workout.

4. You don’t have time. We all say it during this holiday season. We all complain about not having enough time for a training session. By giving into this excuse, you set up yourself to fall short of your goals. You set your schedule and you work with your coach to create your training schedule. Make sure to set realistic training sessions on days when you know you will be attending holiday parties, traveling, or seeing family.

Want more tips?

1. Map it out yourself or with the help of a coach, the week/month of workouts. Having them pre-scheduled will keep you on track and eliminate wasted energy trying to come up with new ideas everyday on the fly. Need some ideas? Check out my free workouts page here.

2. Prepare your gym bag the night before and keep a spare at work or in the car. Having your gear ready to go will help you avoid that morning scramble combined with the excuse, “I don’t have time to get my running gear!”

3. Find a training partner to help motivate and keep you accountable. It takes even more energy to convince yourself and your partner that some other workout is better.

4. Do the work.