The clocks have gone back, its getting cold, wet (except for the odd day) and with the race season so far ahead, how do we stay motivated, other than writing our Christmas list for Santa?? How do we realistically plan for those longer term goals, and what steps do we put in place along the way to maintain our focus and motivation when actually the warmth of the duvet, or a good movie and a glass of wine seems far more enticing then jumping on the turbo, treadmill, heading out side in the driving wind and rain or driving to the public swimming pool!
I know, Ade and myself are continually banging on about consistency in training, but it is absolutely key for your performance to progress, and maintaining motivation is key to succeeding in consistency of your training. This does not meant training 7 days a week for a minimum of 2 hours a day, it means finding a training schedule that works for you from a time perspective and sticking with it! Making sure that training is maintained, as well as recovery sleep and good nutrition! Winter is here, coughs and colds will hit you no doubt, but sensible planning will minimise impact to your immune system and will maintain a healthy body that can stay consistent.
So how do we stay motivated?
Firstly, and you have heard it all before, at the end of the season take a break, do other sports, rest, recover and reflect on your season. Many of you are coming out the other end of this now and your body needs it! If not schedule a week, two weeks in, and enjoy the break! Its also a time to think about what has gone really well, and areas you feel you could improve on. Hopefully, after a week or two off, your body will be jumping at the bit to get back into it as well! Throughout this time start planning your 2018 events. What are your key goals? Is it time? Distance? New event? Then work back from there. What training events can you do that would be specific to this target and help you get into the best possible shape for your A races? Then how do you plan the training to get you to that point, which will keep you positive and motivated throughout these harder months? This planning process itself can help rekindle the fire, but remember to be realistic with your time, and amount of events you have time and remember the financial costs to enter, travel there, plus accommodation etc. . Dont forget you are also juggling work, friends family and other factors around your training and racing goals.
Secondly, its a good idea to set yourself process goals. This are short term targets, that help you on the way towards that longer goal. Again, it helps maintain focus and motivation, especially throughout the winter. There is not a limit to the number of these goals, and they do not necessarily need to be specific to triathlon! They can be really short term and support a change in lifestyle choice, such as making sure you drink plenty of water, matching the calories going out of your body to those going in. Eating more unrefined foods…all these will boost your immune system and provide you with more energy. It could be ensuring you get to bed earlier, and have restful nights, so leaving electronic gadgets downstairs so you do not get distracted! In terms of Specific training, your goals could link to consistency of completing sessions, running regular 5k / 10k events to measure progress, or improving your strength or technique. The winter is certainly the time to do this. All of these will benefit your performance in the long run and will give you short term targets, which hopefully you will achieve, thereby leaving you feeling motivated throughout the off season.
Also training in groups can help motivation. The support, humour and effort that the turbo swim squads, strength and conditioning groups and the Tripurbeck run session illustrate is fantastic, and you will often hear athletes say that they would not have pushed themselves as hard if on their own, or may not have even trained at all!
Finally, if you do find yourself unmotivated over worked, struggling, take a step back. Talk to your coach, try to remember why you do it in the first place. Keep things in perspective! Life does and will constantly throw challenges at you whether these are physical or emotional, and we do this sport because it makes us feel good, it gives us confidence, and a huge sense of achievement. If you need to take a step back, dont panic!! It happens….and I speak from experience here. And when this happens its time to re assess what your process goals and maybe even what your long term goals are! Speaking personally, I have had a long term goal of achieving consistency in run training. And when I say long term, I am in about the 5th year of trying to get some decent run training in! At best I seem to manage a 6 week block! . Torn ligaments, surgery, and what ever damage I did to my foot last month has really made this one quite a challenge! So, yet again, I have had to change and adapt the process goals. Currently, after 6 weeks of no running, I have now gone from run walk last week to 30 mins jog – all be it slow, but my target is 60 mins by jan and some speed endurance and strength work. Alongside this is to support my lack of running with strength work targeting key muscle groups. It certainly feels like a return to where I was last year, which is a tad frustrating to say the least, but isnt it these challenges, the set backs, combined with those sessions when you are shattered and find it hard to mount your bike, but make that effort and end up nailing it after you have warmed up, that keep us going? The juggling of training with work, life, family, and maintaining that determination to consistently keep working towards that target you have set yourself. Isnt it this process that makes achieving those goals you set out at the start of the season, or a few years back, even more rewarding?
You certainly never forget the trials and tribulations, blood sweat and tears of how you got there, and to be honest, if it was easy, well, would the achievement be quite so special???