How to Find Motivation in Your Training
MOTIVATION is a huge contributor to your success as an endurance athlete. Motivation fuels your workouts, habits, and decisions throughout your training cycle. I often get caught up in the idea of "Who cares if I run a sub 3 marathon?" or "Why does this matter to me?" This happens most when I'm having a tough week, feeling overwhelmed, or just not seeing the progress I want to see in my training. And I'm sure this happens to YOU! As often as I get asked how I stay motivated during these times, it's a tough question answer. Here's the things that have helped keep me motivated and reaching for my goals even during the most exhausting times.
How Bad Do You Want It?
Yes, this is the title of an amazing book by Matt Fitzgerald that every endurance athlete should read to hone in on mental strength, but it's also a question you have to ask yourself. Motivation is internal. Something external can motivate you to work hard (money, appearance, a faster time on your record etc.), but how badly you want that end goal is the reason why you wake up each day and fight for what you want. Why you skip dessert, why you go to bed early to make your morning run happen in your busy schedule, why you study extra hard. You have to place value on the thing you're chasing to keep working hard day in and day out - these are not things that are immediately achievable. How do you do this?
Recognize That It Will Be Boring
Training for something or working toward an end goal is most difficult because the road is long and boring. Running 60 miles/week with 80% of your miles at an easy pace could leave you feeling like it's ok to skip that boring 5 mile recovery run because you just don't want to do another boring 5 miles. But the reality is, every run makes you stronger and having the discipline to stick with training even when it's boring and your outside life seems monotonous is hard! Think about the end goal. It all adds up.
And It Won't Be Easy
Nothing worth working for is easy. Nothing gets handed to you. It takes hard work. When you go into it knowing that something is going to be hard every single day, you've already conquered half the mental battle by accepting pain and difficulty. The speed workouts will hurt, lifting higher weights will be hard, the long runs won't get easier, the goal will not be handed to you.
So Make Sure You Love It
Not everyone is made to be an endurance athlete, a Cross Fitter, a cycling queen, a finance guru. Most often you like things that you are good at naturally or you love them enough to work hard to be good at them. I fell into running as a way to stay in shape after college soccer ended. Once I realized I was decent at it, I stuck with the sport and now I just want to get better. I hate lifting weights and the idea of Cross Fit bores me. Don't try to be something you're not or continue showing up for something you hate doing. That drains your desires to achieve your goals.
And Then Figure Out Your Goal(s)
It helps to have large goals and small goals. It can be easy to fall off track if your goal is one that will take years to reach, so set small goals along the way and allow yourself to revel in your achievements. For example, my goal has continuously been the marathon distance over the last 3 years, but I've gotten PRs in the 10K and half marathon distance along the way. I appreciate and take pride in those whether I was able to hit my marathon training goal or not. I also focus on small victories in my training. Tackling a really tough long run workout, perfecting my fueling, or hitting a new weekly mileage peak.
Hope this is valuable to those who struggle with motivation. It helps so much to share and write down your goals once you figure out what those are for you. Don't chase goals that belong to someone else or that aren't true to who you are. You will achieve more by following what's in your heart - as cliche as that may sound :)