Everyone has trouble, at times, keeping themselves motivated when the going gets tough.  Sometimes this is a sign of overtraining and being burn-out, but more often than not it is a case of mind over matter.  I have struggled myself over my athletic career in getting up at 5:30 AM AGAIN to workout, heading outside in the rain, or cold, or oppressive heat, or just swinging my leg over the top-tube for yet another descent into the pain-cave.  Let’s be honest, cycling takes a lot of time, consistency, and the ability to deal with pain to improve at.  These three things separately, or in conjunction can all serve to take the wind out of an athlete’s sails.  Fear not though, there are ways to avoid this and even catch it before it progresses to binge watching the next season of Dexter while crushing a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey…

1. Set Goals

Goal setting is paramount to staying motivated, and is the first thing I ask my new athletes.  Why do you want to do “x” and what do you hope to accomplish (be it physically, emotionally, spiritually, etc.) by achieving “x”?  If you cannot answer this question, stop reading this, put your phone or computer down, close your eyes, and think.  If you have nothing to strive for, you won’t have anything to pick you back up again when you fall down.

2. Make Your Goals Dynamic

The want/need to always find my limit is what keeps me ticking.  Initially it was running around the track once when I was 11 years old, then it progressed to running a sub 5 minute mile, then sub 4:30 mile, then a sprint triathlon, Olympic triathlon, Riding a century, 150+ miler, Cat 5, Cat 4, Cat 3, on and on and on.  As I have progressed as an athlete, my goals have progressed likewise.  Your goals should reflect you and you should reflect your goals.

3. Find Others With Similar Goals

Join a team, start a club, or make plans to meet up for a training ride.  Doing so will make you more accountable, raise your chances of accomplishing whatever it is you set out to do, and you will undoubtably make new friends.  Even better, hire a coach!

motivation-1101887_1280

4. Relish in Your Accomplishments

Did you just finish your first century!?  You are da man (or woman)!  Make sure you take great pride in whatever goal you accomplish and make a mental note, or write your finishing time/place on the back of your race number, or have someone at the race to take pictures and capture the moment, or just upload it to Strava and watch the Kudos rain down upon you!  Do whatever it is that will help you remember what you just did and how hard it was to get to the finish.  Then, you can look back on it the next time you need some inspiration and realize just how AWESOME you really are!

5. Never Settle

Ok, now that you achieved “x” what’s next for you!?  If you settle and stop at just doing “x” then you will become complacent, lose motivation, and end up like that dude watching Dexter crushing Chunky Monkey, NOOO!  Can you do the same thing, just faster?  Can you ride for longer?  Can you gain more elevation next time?  However great or little it is, just improve upon your last effort.

6. Keep Consistent

Consistency over Time = Fitness is GC Coaching’s modus operandi.  It is better to ride shorter multiple time a week than to ride longer once or twice, and it is better to ride consistently throughout the year than to ride a ton over the warmer months and do nothing once it gets cold.  Keeping consistent and making something part of your daily routine will make it stick!  Some say it takes 2 weeks to form a habit and months to break it.  So, if you consistently exercise for 2 weeks and form a great habit, it will be difficult to break it.

7. Be Flexible

No, not the ability to touch your toes (although, this is important), rather the ability to bend without breaking.  Some days, months, or even years will be harder than others, but it’s what happens when you can’t do something at your regular time that makes you a better athlete.  Recently, I dealt with a series of inexplicable cramping in my legs that prevented me from exercising at my normal times.  This didn’t mean I abandoned that workout for the day though.  Instead, I did some foam rolling, stretching, put my big boy pants on, and did the workout that night instead.  Always try to get your workouts in!

8. Stay Positive and Keep it Fun

Sometimes you’re the nail, and sometimes you’re the hammer.  When you’re the nail, stay positive and understand that even though your legs, lungs, and brain all want you to stop, keep going and get stronger!  When you’re the hammer, life is good and positivity comes easily.  Positivity, (even faking it sometimes) will keep you motivated.  This will create a positive feedback loop and will attract other positive people to you which will in turn make you more positive.  Remove negativity and embrace positivity!  (Could I use positive anymore in that paragraph!?).

person-794915_1280

So, how do you stay motivated?

  1. Set GOALS that are just out of reach, dynamic, and if you can, find others to accompany you in your journey.
  2. Once you achieve your goals, take some time to enjoy it, but don’t settle for too long.
  3. Then, once you start training for your next goal, be sure to keep consistent, remain flexible at times, and always keep positive!

Do you need a kick in the butt, or want more positivity and structured training in your athletic endeavors?  Get in touch with us!

About the Author Shayne Gaffney

Shayne holds a bachelors degree in biology, is a USA Cycling Level 2 Certified Coach, USA Olympic Committee Safe Sport Certified, and a Category 3 road and cyclocross racer. He is the owner of GC Coaching and the creator and director of P2 Cycling. He can be contacted directly via info@gaffneycyclingcoaching.com

2 comments

Leave a Reply