What I’ve learned about managing motivation

Its impossible to maintain 100% training motivation all the time. It just is.

Sometimes the lack of motivation is short-term “Gee, I wish I could stay home with my husband and watch that ‘After the Thrones’ episode we DVR’d”. Or “Why am I in this pool and not eating tacos with my family?”

Sometimes its long-term “Why do I do this, what am I getting out of it, maybe I should just quit”. 

I’ve been through this over and over again, usually in the off-season. Its happen so often to me, that I’ve come to the point that I know I’ll eventually get over it.

In order to not fall behind on my training, here’s how I manage training through lack of motivation.

Accept it

There’s going to be times when you just don’t feel like it. Maybe you’ll feed like quitting.  You’re not seeing results. You’re spending a ton of time and money on this sport and not sure what you’re actually getting out of it.

That’s normal. It happens to everyone. Its OK to feel like that, and when you give yourself permission and accept this feeling, you take away its power and begin the process of getting back on track.

Forgive yourself and move on

You skipped a swim? So what, move on. Haven’t run in two weeks? Big deal.  Beating yourself up actually uses more energy. It simply compounds the stress and lowers motivation levels even more.

When I’m truly in a funk, I find that embracing the state I’m in and allowing myself to prioritize something over training, even if its sitting on the couch, actually helps it to pass more quickly.

Turn off your head

When motivation is low and part of my brain doesn’t feel like getting it done, the other half of my brain knows it will pass and that I need to keep up with training. I power through it the best I can.

This one takes a lot of practice. Generally, I get into trouble whenever I think. Therefore, my training philosophy is “don’t think, just do”. One of the benefits of having a coach is that someone else does the thinking for me.

So if I need to workout in the morning, I don’t allow myself to talk myself out of it. Don’t actually think about the workout. First, turn off the alarm. Put in contacts. Put on clothes. Go downstairs and start coffee. The next thing I know, I’m working out.

Its really easy to think the whole time about how much you don’t want to be doing it. Work to turn off those voices. You’ll be done with it before you know it. So many times I’ve left the pool early because I simply can’t stand swimming, and I get upset with myself every time. Those workouts you don’t want to do but do anyway are most satisfying.

Hitting workouts so you can skip some

Things come up. Work things, kid things, illness. When you’re hitting your workouts, its easier accept the ones that are unavoidable.  Workout today because you might not be able to tomorrow.

This helps to avoid guilt from building up for missing too many workouts and compounding the misery.

Embrace the journey, not the outcomes

Its really important to have goals. Time goals, distance goals, or whatever. But putting all of your stock and measures of success behind them will ultimately not make you  happy.

When you look at how far you’ve come and what your body CAN do. Keep a journal, remember where you were a month ago, last year, or 10 years ago. Don’t worry about what hasn’t happened, look at what has.


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