Motivation at this time of year can be rare. The cold dark mornings and evenings make for some grim sessions, as it is usually as damp which makes for grim training, let alone the 45 minutes of cleaning your bike afterwards with an old toothbrush and torn up rags to floss the grit out of the teeth of the chain sets and mechanicals. However, the urge to stay in your warm bed tucked under the tog 15 duvet must be ignored, with the season being just a stone’s throw away, so it’s time to dig deep in the motivational bag of tricks to get out on the road, trails and the gym.
Set Yourself Goals
A great way to motivate yourself is to set a goals to achieve. This year my goals are:
1. I will be competing at the international Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon, trying to better my 4th place from last year. With a new found confidence and knowledge of the course, and also knowing I could cut those 25 seconds that kept me off the podium in the first attempt where I didn't push as hard as I could for fear of blowing up and ruining the whole race altogether, this is an great goal for both physical challenge and personal improvement.
2. I will be aiming to qualify for the European and World Triathlon Championships.
3. I'm considering a very brutal race series in Wales.
Don't keep your goals to yourself either - telling someone else makes you more likely to achieve it.
Visualisation Is Key
One of my favourite thoughts to get me moving is imagining the person above me on the finish sheet is the athlete out training whilst I’m still curled up in bed...or vice versa the person below me on the finish sheet is the athlete catching some Zzzs whilst I have sleet chipping away my flesh like a shot blaster removing rust from an old girder.
See yourself achieving your goals, or beating that opponent is a huge psychological boost.
Another great tool is technology. Strava has whole host of butt whipping techniques to keep the athlete on his/her toes by the means of leader boards, Strava segments and of course, spying on your competition. Strava links into (almost) every device an athlete owns and compares data with either yourself or others. However, do not ever get locked into training junk mileage just to top leader boards, especially during race prep and maintenance periods, but use them to keep an eye on total hours trained for sure. My favourite thing of all though is chasing Strava segments. These are basically set segments, of either long stretches of roads, big hills etc etc that all the athletes try their hardest to complete in the quickest possible time. Being the runner, I hold a lot more records that I do in cycling and if somebody takes one away from me, you can guarantee I won’t settle until I retrieve it back. Which obviously becomes great motivation.
This same principle applies to other fitness gadgets and Apps too (read "Rise Of The Wearable").
Focusing On Future Positives
I always look forward to February or March for my annual cycling holiday in Mallorca, where myself and friends join other local cyclists and triathletes from neighbouring clubs, pre-book a whole hotel and venture out every day on the best cycling routes and early season sunshine on our backs. Usually we clock between 500 to 800 kilometres in a week which really helps boosts the cycling legs for the rest of the season. This drives me through the dark and cold mornings and nights of training here to ensure I keep up on this trip.
Whatever it is that gets you out of bed at stupid o'clock is just as important as how many miles you clock up in your training.
Good motivation can be the difference between winning and losing.