K and I walked a few miles yesterday afternoon, happy to be outside in the 40-degree weather. Even if walking through snow in places was a bit more work than usual, seeing the sunshine reflecting off of the untouched snow was worth the effort.
The sidewalks were completely clean in some areas and, in other spots, buried under snow undisturbed by even a single footprint…until we came along.
Walking through snow was easier when we were able to walk in another set of footprints and harder when there were lumps and ice chunks from previous shoveling. Traversing stretches of icy sidewalks required focused attention and smaller steps in order to maintain balance.
Commenting to K about how our driveway was clear, he replied that if you get the snow cleared to a certain point, the sun does the rest of the job.
It’s momentum (and evaporation) at work.
(I love physics! ❤️)
When you are running down a hill, momentum (mass times velocity) can keep you going at a fast pace with less effort than would be required to maintain that speed on a flat or uphill surface. If you run faster, your momentum increases. Conversely, if you reduce your pace and begin to walk, your momentum decreases.
Though the laws of physics may not be as obvious in every case, the concept that an object in motion stays in motion — unless or until acted on by an outside force — can be observed in other situations.
When you get a project to a certain point, many times it’s easier to keep going, and, if you’re lucky, momentum can keep you going until you are able to complete the project.
Though momentum isn’t a guarantee (other forces may affect an outcome), think of it like an assist in basketball. When you make a shot after receiving the ball from another player, that player is credited with helping you to score. Momentum can serve in the same capacity, helping you to reach your goal by setting you up to succeed.
Of course, you need to be moving in the right direction and stay on pace.
Consistency with your fitness endeavors can help you build the momentum that will propel you forward without as much effort as you initially needed to expend.
If you can create your own momentum, whether directly or indirectly, you will have a better chance of reaching your goal.
Think about the actions you take whenever you exercise. From choosing an activity and selecting your fitness attire to coordinating with a friend and arriving at your destination, there are steps you take before starting your workout.
The more frequently you engage in a particular activity, the stronger your associated habits will be and the easier it will be to keep up your fitness habit.
Momentum kicks in as you start the process, and you can use this to your benefit.
For example, maybe you don’t feel like exercising today. You know that momentum will help if you just get started, so you put on your workout gear, lace up your shoes, and step outside. At that point, it’s easier to keep moving in your intended direction than it would be to skip your workout — at least if the weather isn’t terrible, right? If you wanted to switch directions, you’d have to take different actions and reverse the work you just did to get ready.
In case that’s not compelling, let’s talk bigger picture.
When you set a big goal, that goal is dependent on the successful completion of various smaller steps. If you set a goal to run a race, your plan would recommend running many times over a period of weeks or months before your goal race.
You might have energy and feel excitement at the start of training, then feel resistance as the training gets more challenging, and then experience momentum as you get into a rhythm. You might experience additional periods of resistance and momentum, and, providing you complete the plan, you would reach your goal by running the race.
In the example above, you are creating momentum by setting the initial goal and then working through the plan. There won’t be a lot of momentum in the beginning, but as you continue to complete training runs and start to see your progress, your momentum will increase.
Part of setting yourself up to succeed is making sure that you are able to take action that will move you closer to your goal in the moment. Momentum can help you to sustain your effort as you continue on your path, and you can create momentum by setting fitness goals that connect your workouts (instead of treating each workout as a separate, unrelated experience).
Whether you like to set goals on a regular basis or when the spark strikes, understanding how momentum can help you may provide another tool for reaching your goals. As you outline your fitness goals, consider how you can create your own momentum and keep moving forward.