Lots of people have asked me to write about motivation and how to keep motivated. Motivation is the key to achieving your goals, to keep improving and most importantly not quitting and enjoying the whole process.
Recently I posted this quote on my social accounts as I find it key in helping others. “You need to ignore what everyone else is doing and achieving. Your life is about breaking your own limits and outgrowing yourself to live your best life”.
So why do people lose their motivation and even give up? Well as a running coach I see this happen a lot and there are many factors that contribute to this. One big factor is people train all year round with no complete rest and when you’re injured that is not complete rest – that is recovering. I am talking about being injury free and resting. All the top pros take weeks and even a whole month after their season. Club runners just train all year round with no rest and this leads to problems, as they get injured, train the same way, no goals, no improvements and therefore lose motivation and even stop doing the sport they love.
This year for the first time since I took up running and swimming I have found it hard to get going again after my two week break after the World Championships and with all my key races not until the summer, keeping motivated is going to be hard as I don’t really need to train much, so here are my key tips. With the winter coming and the dark cold months it will be hard to get motivated but you have to get out there and train, even if you do not feel like it as those days of training are the ones that really count.
Have a break
Firstly have a break and don’t train all year round, people worry about their fitness and are a bit obsessed about this, but what’s the point of overtraining if it won’t benefit you and you will end up injured. I have taken two weeks complete full rest since the World Championships, where this allows my muscles to get stronger and body recover from the hard training for the past year. Have a break, and ease back into training slowly. I am having 3 weeks of easy training and then building my running up slowly after this. I am going to have regular weeks off next year as I found I can train better.
Reflect on what you have achieved
When you’re struggling and times are bad in your training, take time to reflect and look at what you have achieved in your training and races. This will help you stay motivated; think of a time you have had a great training run or a PB. I struggled a lot in the swimming pool this year, with endless long sessions and it is boring in the pool. I would think about how I could hardly swim 6 years ago and look at what I have achieved. My motivation was to keep at it and not give up. Reflecting on your season and what you can do to improve on will spur you on.
Change your training
Don’t do the same training every week, change things up. My training never has a same week in it. People like to do the same training each year which works but then they don’t improve and wonder why this doesn’t motivate them. I have an easy week every 7 weeks, this allows my body to recover; I am still training but not as hard, I tend to have a great race after the back of this.
After each cycle I reassess my training and look to see improvement, if not I will change the training up. Each cycle has tests in it to see improvement or what areas I need to improve in. So for example I may do a long run on a track to measure my improvement.
Select races and plan ahead
Select key races throughout the year to work towards. This will help you gain motivation and it is important to stay focused and not get carried away. I have key races across the year which I target for different reasons. This can be for a PB, podiums, fitness test etc. I would say do not get carried away with too many races as when you start to get the times you do not want you will lose motivation. My advice would be plan ahead and make a plan so you know what you are doing training wise each week. I tend to write myself a 10 week program. If I need to change anything up I do.
Regularly set different realistic goals and aim to meet them. Setting goals throughout the year is important and it keeps you motivated as you can see the improvement in you training and races. There is no easy way; if you train hard you will be rewarded. If you don’t meet the goals have a look and at what went wrong in your training and work on that area.
In the winter months when I have no more aquathlon races I set goals for running and swimming. So some of my goals are to work towards another successful cross country season, trying to finish higher than 7th in the league. This allows me to work towards improving my running over the winter months. Another one of my goals is to change my swimming technique and revaluate in January. So goals like this can be great to help with motivation. Another area is to work on my strength so Craig Coggle my strength coach will reassess my programs and how I am performing in order to make me stronger and faster.
Train with others
I found this year after the world championships, I had no motivation to get back to training after my two weeks of complete rest. My mind is thinking why train now as my events are not until next year. I found it hard going back to training, but I decided to build it back up slowly and for my speed reps get my training partner Steve to pace me round the reps. This gives you a boost in motivation, as you can push each other round and have a nice chat as well. Training with a group is important as you can share stories and even do a long run where you can have a cake stop during or after the run together.
Try different sports
Trying different sports throughout the year is a good idea, such as doing a bit of cycling. I am going to cycle a bit over the winter and see what road that may or may not lead too.
So guys I hope this blog helps you, the winter is closing in now and motivation will be tough in those cold dark months of the year. However if you plan and set goals and purely just get out there on the days you do not feel up to it, it is days like that which will count.