Below is an excerpt from an article from Zen Habits on working out. I believe it is as applicable to martial arts training as to anything else. The full article may be read here.
For myself, I've formed the habit of getting up quite early everyday so that I can work out without unexpected events hijacking my time, or some arbitrary deadline hanging over my head. It's been working wonders.
Why the Fitness Habit is More Important Than the Plan
Post written by Leo Babauta.In the last few months, I’ve spent a bit of time working with a group of fantastic fitness experts to create a fitness program that I think could change people’s lives.
But what I’ve found in doing research and working with beta testers is that the most important thing isn’t some secret ideal fitness plan … but forming the habit of fitness.
It’s the habit, not the plan, that makes all the difference in the world.
It’s fascinating, really. I’ve found that you can give beginners 10 different fitness plans — yoga, running, Crossfit, TurboFire, P90X, bootcamp workouts, MoveNat, etc. — and they can all fail. Why?
Because it doesn’t matter how good the workout is, or how good the diet is … if people don’t actually follow the plan.
The problem isn’t that people don’t know what kinds of exercises to do … they generally do know what they should be doing. And really, no matter what people choose, it’ll (generally) be better than nothing. It’s much better to do bodyweight exercises, or run, or do yoga, or play a sport, than to do no activity at all.
So how do you get people to do something, rather than nothing? It’s not even a matter of motivation. You can motivate people to get active — for a day or three. That’s not the hard part. The hard part is figuring out how to get them to stick to it.
When I first started running, in late 2005, I knew that I could get myself to run for a few days, because I’d done it a dozen times before. But never, in those dozen attempts at running, could I stick to it for long enough to make any difference in my health, fitness level, or weight.
Then I applied the same principles that worked for quitting smoking, to running, and it stuck. A year later, after running a handful of races from 5Ks to half marathons, I ran my first marathon (and have run a couple since). What was the secret? Motivation? A good running plan? No: it was learning to create the habit of running, and figuring out how to make that habit stick.
It was that simple.