I think we can all agree that we are living in a challenging time. As human beings our view of the world might not be too positive, we may lack optimism and even hope.
However bad it might seem I keep reminding myself that training and taking regular recreational exercise is a huge privilege that many people around the world are not able to do.
Many of you might feel demotivated because of the lack of clarity about events and races. I understand those feelings. However there is a totally alternative way of looking at why you train and take regular exercise.
To regain your training mojo you have to be prepared to fundamentally change the way that you think, and the way that you do things.
Many of you believe that you are only motivated by external things such as a challenging race, a hard sportive or gran fondo or an Ironman. With all the uncertainty about events because of the COVID pandemic, it is easy to slip into a mindset where you can't find any motivation to train.
When your only motivations are external, you are always vulnerable to demotivating forces that are totally out of your control. Even under normal circumstances you might train for six months for an event that is cancelled, or you might be ill and unable to take part.
To rediscover your training mojo and radically reenergise your mindset, you need to develop some internal motivations.
What do you REALLY want to gain out of your training?
Events and races are important but they are outcomes.
In order to achieve results you need to make improvements. Making improvements can happen at any time and should be something that always motivates you. By making improvements you are moving forward as a human being, which should be hugely motivating.
What do you need to focus on to make these improvements?
- Deliberate Practice. This form of practice is focused, it is systematic, it always has purpose. Too often training can become just mindless repetition where we go through the motions (one reason I mostly dislike ERG mode). This becomes boring and demotivating. Working to truly understand why you are doing every workout and how you should be executing, provides clarity, focus and motivation. Before you sling your leg over the bike this winter ask yourself 'why am I doing this session and what am I going to focus on for the entirety of the session?'. Each incremental improvement will add up to some big performance gains over time.
- Being Accomplished. Feeling personally accomplished is a powerful source of happiness. But what does it mean? To me accomplishment is something that is deeply personal. It is about me feeling like I have fulfilled my potential. Too often we see athletes measure success by looking at how well they have done compared to other athletes. This can be a highly destructive way to gauge your success and often leads to negative thoughts and demotivation. Rather than judge yourself against what others are doing, judge yourself against how much of YOUR unique potential you are realising. Are you becoming a more accomplished athlete? Answering 'yes' to this question is hugely motivating and will keep you focused and moving forwards.
- Technical Improvements. Training should not just be about becoming fitter, and yet we see this as the primary driver for how most people spend their training time. Fitness training can only get you so far. We all have a genetic ceiling. Time spent making technical improvements to your riding will make you more skilful and more economical. Technical improvements require deliberate practice which will lead to a higher level of personal accomplishment. For example, increasing your cadence will improve your endurance by making you more fuel efficient. Performing single leg drills will improve your pedal stroke, adding watts for very little effort. Improving your running mount in CX will make you a lot faster. Yet it is these sessions that we see missed more often than not largely because people don't feel there is a fitness benefit. They are missing the point.
We have outlined three areas that you can focus on to flip your mindset from being demotivated due to a lack of external motivators. Always have a focus for every workout or ride you do, even if it is simply 'ignore everything and ride for the pure enjoyment of it'. Ignore what everybody else is doing and focus on becoming the best YOU can be, in the context of your life and your potential. Spend time making technical improvements to your riding, as well as improving your fitness. Becoming a focused, internally motivated and more skilful rider will lead you down the path to accomplishment, fulfilment and happiness.
Rob Wakefield /
Founder & Coach