Athletes are a driven lot, by and large. How else can we push ourselves to reach our goals amidst lives that often put direct obstacles in the way? When thinking about age group athletes, it is hard to over emphasize the importance of motivation. If we’re not motivated, we’re not training well and/or racing well. For the athlete who don’t revisit their core motivations often finds themselves feeling that they’ve been left adrift. That’s when things our goals and plans get derailed.
Determining your inner motivations shouldn’t be too hard. It will take you a few minutes of thinking over the course of a few days, but that’s time well spent. I encourage people to create a list for themselves about what motivates them with regard to their training and racing. Why do you do it? Don’t censure yourself and be honest. Looking good isn’t a bad thing, for example, and if that’s a motivation for you, write it down! Are you competitive with others and like to win contests of all sorts? If so, sports likely play a key part of that view for you. Write it down.
Often people think about their lists for a few days adding to it when they have the chance. Once you’ve got your list done, look it over thinking about what themes/groupings emerge. Typically these longer lists can be summarized in a few bullet point themes. Write these down, for they are your core athletic motivators.
Once you have a list of the things that are core motivators for you, I would strive to make sure these areas of your training and/or racing get acknowledged and fed regularly if at all possible. For example, I like a bit of novelty in my training and racing. Having been an endurance athlete for over 25 years, damn that makes me sound old, I need to change things up fairly regularly in order to maintain my enthusiasm. As such, I started doing cyclocross a few years ago. Its a ridiculous part of the cycling scene really but I enjoy it, in spite of my racing results. As such, my participation in cyclocross helps and feeds into my core beliefs as an athlete and really has helped me over the past few years.
You too have core motivating factors, things that you love about your athletic pursuits. Take stock of these and make them a part your training, you will benefit from it even if it might look like a bad bargain. For example, many athletes enjoy the social aspect of group training. Could they train in ways that were more time efficient than going to a group training session? Likely. Yet, its a bad trade off if they lose their enthusiasm as a result of these trade off. In short, we’re athletes because it’s fun. Think about what you “dig” in your training and keep it in the schedule even when it gets tough, you’ll be glad you did!