Most endurance athletes, especially high-performing business executive types, have a strong intrinsic motivation to train, but this motivation has been challenged lately by cancelled races and stress of the unknown. If you have found your motivation fading, it is time to develop a back-up plan. Research has found that motivation alone is not enough to get to the finish line of a goal. To remain motivated, you also need routine, reward, and competition.
Here are a couple strategies to work through in order to face your fading motivation and revive it.
First, get real. Recognize that your excuses are not reasons to not train.
“I’m tired. I didn’t sleep well last night.” “I feel depressed.” “I have to do a work thing.” “I don’t have time.” “I’m just not feeling it.” “My legs feel like lead - I need a rest day.” “I feel fat.”
Do you tell yourself any of these “reasons” to get out of a workout? When you tell yourself these things, recognize that you are confusing excuses for not getting the work done as justified reasons.
Then, choose to get it done.
Once you’ve established that you are human and you DO make excuses, you need to make a promise to yourself that you will not allow these excuses to keep you from your goals. There will be plenty of external factors that will present roadblocks in your training journey. Why wrestle with the single factor that you have the most control over - your attitude? You are given the same 24 hours that your competitors who are out-performing you are given. You have to commit to adopting a can-do attitude before you can get it done.
Get to know your demons. Write them down.
Journaling is one of the best strategies to create awareness in your habits and thought patterns. When you tell yourself that you would rather sleep, work, or eat instead of train, get out your journal. Know exactly how you are feeling and why you are feeling that way. What events over the past couple days have possibly led to feeling this way? How would you feel if you trained? How would you feel if you continue not to train?
Create Your Combat Plan
What can you do or create to make it easier to workout when you don't want to? Here are a couple ideas:
Block your calendar every day for your workout
Commit to doing 50% of the workout, when you're not feeling like doing any of it. If you feel good once you get started, then finish the workout.
Give yourself a reward for completing the workout - watch your favorite show while you're on the trainer, or listen to a favorite song or podcast
Go easy. Give yourself permission to go easy, even if the planned workout is harder intervals
Call or text your accountability buddy when you want to skip a workout
Keep a picture of your dream race or a favorite past race or event to inspire you about the future
Recognizing and fighting motivation demons requires discipline. Give yourself some slack. Behavior change does not come easy and requires small steps. Find those small steps and once you start seeing success, you'll feel your "natural" motivation coming back.