Staying Motivating Throughout the Season
It happens to a lot of us. We sign up for a race like our first 10K or 10th triathlon with great fervor. We have plans and goals. We start off training focused and determined. At first, everything is going as planned. We start each workout with a smile on our face ready to sweat and push ourselves. But as the weeks wane on motivation slowly drops and the excitement that was once there is now replaced with simply getting through workouts or maybe even coming up with excuses to skip workouts. Perhaps it’s a nagging injury, boredom, or fatigue that’s got us asking ourselves, “Wait, why am I doing this?”
If and when that fateful question arises I want you to be prepared. I have devised five handy tips on keeping your mojo up:
- Before you start training you should set objectives and goals for yourself. Setting goals and objectives gives you purpose to your workouts and reminds you WHY. Goals are different than objectives. Goals are long term. They are the big picture or the end product. They may or may not be met in a single season. An example of a goal would be to qualify for the Boston Marathon with a time of 3 hours and 5 minutes. Objectives are like mini goals; the steps needed to be taken and accomplished to move closer to meeting the overall goal. An example of an objective in the case of the goal of 3:05 marathon time could be to work on lowering the 10K time to a sub-40.
- Set several goals for the season. Vary them so that some are realistic and very accomplishable while others are dreams. By doing this, you can satisfied that you have accomplished some things at the end of the season though they may not be everything that you wanted. This also re-motivates you to train next season to accomplish all those dream goals that you have.
- Hold yourself accountable by writing your goals and objectives down in a training log. Evaluate your progress regularly to track what is working and what isn’t. If you can’t be trusted, tell a friend or training group what your goals are and train regularly with them. Joining charity groups can also keep you in check by reminding you that you are training for a bigger cause than yourself. Sometimes you need others to help you along and there’s no shame in that.
- Be nice to yourself. If you’re feeling broken down and weary, perhaps it’s your body telling you that you need a break. Take a couple days off and get some extra rest. You’re not going to perform well if you feel like that anyway so you might as well rejuvenate. Sometimes it just takes a warm bath and some dark chocolate to get you moving again.
- Evaluate progress toward your goals by entering mid-season races. This helps build confidence and reminds you of what skills still need to be worked on. You can also congratulate yourself on what you have accomplished so far.
Finally, remember that participating in endurance sports is an extraordinarily fulfilling but very hard thing. There’s a reason it’s called endurance. The very definition is that of enduring and bearing hardships. But it also means having the ability to overcome and to continue on no matter what to achieve what you set out to do in the first place. I believe Steve Prefontaine, the great Olympic USA Track and Field runner said it best: ”You have to wonder at times what you're doing out there. Over the years, I've given myself a thousand reasons to keep running, but it always comes back to where it started. It comes down to self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement.”