This week I thought I would write about something that I think is important to people whether you are an athlete or just someone trying to lead a healthy lifestyle. How to remain motivated and how to develop the mental toughness to get the sessions done that you really don't want to do.
I am at a point in my athletic life where I very rarely miss a workout or even take a day off exercise. As I have mentioned previously, I have a coach who sets my weeks training for me and I complete the sessions he sets for me. There have been many times where I get my session on a Sunday night and I know that the Thursday run set is going to be horrible or that the lat thing I am going to feel like doing after a day at uni is that 5km swim set. But come Thursday, I am there doing the run set or I am in the pool after uni. I do it automatically, maybe I am lucky that I am driven and motivated but for me it honestly isn't that hard. I make reference to this occasionally but I openly admit that there are some negative psychological side effects of the massive weight change I experienced. One of which is my fear that I will go back to how I used to be. Now I am not sure if that is what gets me to do the sessions I don't want to or if it is because I have big goals in this sport. I generally don't find it that hard. For me it isn't a question of should I do a session. I simply have to. No ifs or buts. It is on my program, it will be done. So how can you get to that point?
One of the biggest tips I can anyone is to set yourself a target. I normally say to people make it a race and no a local 5km race will not do. Pick something which will force you out of your comfort zone. Shameless tri plug here but something like a 70.3 triathlon. Why? Well look if you can swim without drowning, ride a bike without crashing and are literally able to walk you will probably get through an Olympic or Sprint triathlon. However a 70.3 is a long way and there are cut off times. It means that it is not so much a matter of just getting through it (which is fine). It means you will have to work hard in your training to beat the clock and make sure you finish. I once tried to convince someone who is incredibly out of shape to sign up for a big running race in Sydney and they said to me that they would not sign up for something that they didn't know they could finish. That sort of attitude is the exact opposite of what I am trying to get you to understand. One of the most successful ways to gain the mental toughness to train is to introduce an element of fear by signing up for something outside the scope of your known abilities.
I mentioned fear and that is my second tip. Use the fear. Whether the fear is that you will not be able to do a certain session or that you are scared of being judged at the gym because you are a bit bigger. More often than not, our fears highlight areas of our own life that we are self-conscious and unhappy with. If you are scared of going to the gym, go until you are not scared anymore. Wear your fear as a badge of honour. If anyone has a go at you for being at the gym because you are out of shape laugh at them and do your own workout anyway. It is your own journey and you will be the one laughing at the end of the day. So to recoup where we are at. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and embrace your fears and use them.
The final tip I will give to anyone struggling for motivation is to be honest with yourself. You are the one who has to go home everyday and look yourself in the mirror. All the coaches and trainers and training partners can tell you that you are working hard or you are putting in the handwork but only you know whether it is true. If you can look at yourself in the mirror and feel guilt free then you are putting in the effort that you know you can. If you look at yourself and feel like you have taken it easy or your fear has gotten the best of you than you are the only one who can do something about it. I love helping people turn their life around and get in shape. I have had more failures than I have had success but do I feel guilty? Not at all. I know that when I set people a program I am equipping them with the tools they require to be successful but I always say to them that the ultimate responsibility rests on their shoulders. I did it by myself and I never thought I would. I do things now that I never thought I would be able to do. I am at a point in my life where my training is less of a burden and more of a critical component of my life balance. I look at myself in the mirror and I do not feel guilty. I see myself and I am happy with who I see looking back out at me. Not because I think I have a rocking bod but because I live the life that I want to.
I hope this little write up will help some of you. If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email. Let me hear if you think I am completely wrong.
As for me, I am still struggling to get better. I have nearly completed my antibiotics and my cough hasn't cleared up. Whatever I got it hit me hard. It is ok though. The performance I put in at Challenge Melbourne was worth it. I am looking forward to getting better and starting to build for 2015. I am also excited because my soccer team started training this week. I love playing soccer and it is one of my little tri off season rewards.
Let me know how you all go with developing some mental toughness. Especially if you decide to take the plunge and sign up for something. Good luck, train hard and remember to TRI!