Carrot and stick

An assignment took me to the mall the other day, where my job was to talk to shoppers about why they like that particular mall,


One of the "carrots" I'm dangling in front of my nose.

then get out of there.

Instead, I found myself wandering through Sephora, lusting after a Philosophy bubble bath that would be the perfect addition to my recent addiction to Epsom-salt baths. But since I’m saving up for several big-ticket items — new ski boots, a $250 race registration for the Great Chesapeake Bay Swim in June that’s seriously making me think about doing the cheaper 1-mile swim instead, $90 for the National Marathon — I held back.

After safely driving away from the temptation, it occurred to me that I have a golden opportunity to bribe myself. Losing my regular pool has left me unmotivated to go through the annoyance of finding a new place to swim, then actually making that first workout happen. But here’s my new promise to myself: After logging five good swims, I can buy myself the $12 bubble bath.

This got me thinking: I can do the same thing with the other stuff I want, using my wish-list items as carrots dangling in front of my nose as motivations to work out. Here’s the short list:

A few new sports bras — maybe two cheap ones from Target and one of my favorite Mizuno-brand ones. I’m letting myself buy the Target sports bras, about $15 a pop, once I log five good core workouts.

The Quadballer is apparently a hard-core version of my beloved foam roller. It’s $68.63 with shipping costs, but apparently, the Chevy Chase Running Company sells it locally. This might just be a reward for holding off on actual massages, which I love but really can’t afford.

A Garmin Forerunner. Not the new fancy one, just a trusty old 205 or 305, which retails around $125-$150 right now. My Nike + only cost $30, but after the latest malfunction (it told me I ran 2.5 miles at 14-minute-mile pace), I’m beginning to realize you get what you pay for.

And finally … a race registration for the YMCA Bethesda-Chevy Chase Turkey Chase on Thanksgiving. This, along with other holiday races in the Washington area, will serve as a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy: I’ll reward myself for workouts by registering for the race, which will motivate me to work out to train for said race. Come to think of it, all of these wish-list items will motivate me to work out. What sweet rewards! I’m hoping these motivate me sufficiently, so I don’t have to resort to a stick (not to be confused with The Stick).

What’s on your training wish list? How do you reward yourself for completing tough workouts?



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4 responses to “Carrot and stick

  1. Great ideas! I’ve currently got about $40 worth of clearance stuff in my shopping cart at–and I told myself I’ll click purchase if I stick to my goal pace for this weekend’s long run : )

  2. I love the Garmin! That would be the first one that I would work towards 🙂

  3. JT

    Great idea! I am totally going to use this to keep me motivated…. need a solid goal now…

  4. trialsoftraining

    Exercising gets expensive, right?? Ugh. I learned this during my recent Winter-running shopping adventure. Wanted a $60 Underarmor pullover, but went with a $30 C9 jacket from Target – which I actually really love now.

    Race fees are Always on my wish list – that’s one thing I always bite my lip about. Ehhh, I’m Paying to run?? geeze.

    You’ve got some serious motivation up there, though. 🙂 The Garmin DOES give you what you pay for (fyi)….get it get it!

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