Musings

When motivation deserts you

It’s the end of the season, all the hype is over. Everything we have been training for all year has come and gone and it’s common for athletes to fall into a bit of a ‘funk’ at this time of year. Suddenly our goals are all complete (for better or worse) and we don’t know what to look forward to anymore.

I thought it wouldn’t happen to me.

But it did.

I spent almost a year working up to Ironman, every spare minute seemed to be devoted to training and my life operated on a schedule. This ended with me crossing the finish line at Ironman Canada, and whilst I was ecstatic at the achievement, there was an air of anti-climax to the whole thing.

How do you top Ironman?

Another Ironman? A harder one? Something longer? Or faster?

As I cast around for my next challenge, my training foundered.

Here are the tips that work for me when motivation deserts me.

Forgive yourself

It’s a vicious cycle. You miss a workout, you get stressed about missing a workout, so you miss more, this weeks a bust already right? You’ll do better next week.

Now, whilst I don’t think we should just turn into couch potatoes, it is OK to take a short break, especially if you have just completed a major race. In fact, it’s something you probably should do!

Make it Fun

Try some fun workouts, do something different. Many cross training activities will benefit regular training and it can offer a great opportunity to spend time with friends and family (who can sometimes get a little neglected during peak training sessions).

Maybe a mountain bike ride or hike, cross country skiing, paddleboarding or a class at the Y. Doing something is better than nothing.

Remember why you like to train for your sport and what makes it fun.

Phone a Friend

Everything is better with friends. Having a friend waiting, makes me far more likely to show up, and usually makes the workout more enjoyable as well. Can’t find a friend? Go make some new ones. Join a club or sign up for a series of classes.

Alcatraz

Set a Goal

Scheduling the next season can be a big motivator, and always lights a spark of excitement in me. It doesn’t have to be another monster like Ironman. Maybe you want to get stronger or faster and that’s a perfectly good goal.

Write down you goals and remember to keep them SMART:

So for 2015 my goal was

Specific Complete Ironman Canada
Measurable Easily measured by my crossing the line
Achievable Past experience indicates that this is achievable
Realistic Finishing in 10 hours would not be realistic, 16 is
Time based Race date was about a year away, and fixed

Maybe you aren’t there yet. Maybe your current goal is just to exercise every day. Whatever it is, write it down and start working towards it.

Just Do It!

Sometimes just getting out of the door is the biggest barrier. In this case, getting ready and forcing yourself out of the door can be the best strategy. Promise yourself that if after five minutes you still aren’t feeling it, you can stop. Often once you start, you realise it’s not so bad after all.

The five year old in me still loves the visual and tactile sticker chart. It allows me to see progress at a glance – a chart full of stars always makes me smile. There are of course numerous online tools for this as well.

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Staying Accountable

When considering a workout, I find it useful to ask myself:

Will I be happier?

Will I be stronger/faster?

At least one has to be a yes!

Most importantly, equating a missed workout to a major failure in life is a mistake. Motivation ebbs and flows and accepting that will go a long way to fixing it.

What are your tricks for staying motivated and accountable?

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