Wednesday, March 26, 2014

TTW? (Training Tips Wednesday): Motivation

Gah, I missed my TTT date so I'm making this a special TTW, training tips Wednesday!

Motivation...Finding it, keeping it and combating bouts of dips in it.

We are all motivated by different things.  While it may seem that some folks are always 100% motivated to do their training, trust me, they aren’t…myself included.  I sometimes struggle getting in my workouts, even though it’s what I love to do!

How do you find motivation?
This is an extremely personal process and I can’t really tell you what will motivate you BUT I can offer a few suggestions.  Instead of thinking about motivation from an end-goal perspective (a finish time, a number on the scale, a pant size, etc) think of motivation as a feeling.  I am motivated to do this ____ because it is going to make me feel _____.  Thinking of motivation in terms of feelings I think makes it a more internal process and can help keep motivation up when some goals are long term rather than a quick fix.

How do you keep motivation?
Ah, keeping up the motivation.  There is a reason that gym goers sometimes loose interest in the gym by February or March…motivation is a sneaky thing, it can come and go.  As I said above, I think tying motivation to a feeling helps keep it fresh and top of mind, rather than a specific end-goal which, in the case of performance gains and weight loss can be slow moving and incremental.  I would also say setting goals is really important to staying motivated so long as you are setting REALISTIC expectations.  As someone who likes to help their friends (and now athletes) stay motivated and on track, one of the worst feelings is helping someone that is over committed or has unrealistic expectations.  Setting ambitious goals is great, I’m all for that, but unrealistic goals can actually be a hindrance to motivation.  Keep it real and honest with yourself (and your coach, if you have one).  For example, I would love to sit here and tell you all that I have a goal of qualifying for Kona.  That would be an unrealistic goal and, if that really was my motivator I would probably get pretty discouraged pretty fast.  Instead, I’ve set a goal to PR every distance I attempt for the year.  That’s certainly ambitious but also within the realm of possibility!  Stay positive, stay present, set goals and be realistic.

How do you combat bouts of dips in motivation?
Everyone has a bad day here and there but if you feel that your dip in motivation is lasting more than a day or two it is time to evaluate.  Ask yourself why you’re unmotivated?  Are you bored? Burnt out? Overcommitted? Injured?  There could be a number of responses to that question.  Figure out the root of the issue and then take steps to reverse it.  Bored? Try something new in your routine.  Burn out? Maybe you need to take a break from your regular schedule and take some time away from the sport to regroup. Overcommitted? Figure out what you can let go.  What’s the most important race/training/etc on the list…keep that, drop the rest.  Injured? Think of the mental and physical break you’re providing your body as you recoup from your injury.  What’s something you’d like to do but your training usually gets in the way…go and do whatever that is.

Motivation can be a finicky thing.  Finding it and keeping it is part of what makes us stronger as athletes.  As a coached athlete, I feel like having a coach helps prevent some dips in motivation.  My routine is always changing…I’m no longer swimming Mon-Wed-Fri, running T-Th-S, etc.  I get new workouts and a new schedule every 2 weeks.  I also think being a multisport athlete helps with motivation; having a change in scenery from the water, to the bike to the road is a great motivator—each have their own challenges and unique characteristics.  Remember to stay present and to think about the feeling that inspires your motivation!