The best way to increase motivation is to link our workouts to greater purpose.
Focusing your activities around purpose will allow you to get more out of them and in turn make you a better performer – both in the workouts and in competition. Do you understand why you’re doing a given workout on a given day? If not, it’s important to ask your coach (or yourself, in the case of being self-coached) why you’re doing that particular workout. With my athletes, I want them to understand the flow of the workouts – what we’re doing today based on what we did yesterday and what’s coming tomorrow. What are we doing this week compared to last week and next week, and what’s the focus of this cycle compared to the last cycle and the upcoming cycle. When I get additional questions, I do my best to provide comprehensive answers and deeper perspective. I want my athletes to understand the purpose of what they’re doing.
For example, if we’re performing an SST workout on the bike, it’s not enough to just hold watts in the proper zone. I want them to understand where within the zone the target is, and how the efforts should feel. If there are multiple workouts on the day, then should this workout be done first or last? This deeper level of knowledge around a workout helps create better connection to it and better motivation. Athletes constantly balance perception of effort with motivation, so the more motivated athletes can be, the more effective they will perform.
Greater purpose and motivation is also critical on those days when we feel tired or worn out. Sometimes, we should dial things back or take the day off. But, in many cases, reminding ourselves why we are doing what we’re doing can inject us with more energy and then more motivation. Sometimes on the days we think we’re feeling our worst we perform at our best. If the default response to “feeling tired” is to dial a workout back (or skip it), then athletes will definitively miss out on some opportunities to challenge barriers, test their mettle and force progress forward. Sometimes, during warm-up the body will open up and let you know it is ready to be pressed – and to perform. Sometimes not. In either case, performing the warm-up and then attempting the first interval of a key workout will tell you what you need to know in order to either keep going or to dial things back. But, unless you try, you run the risk of missing an opportunity for improvement.
So look at your own training regimen. Are you completing the workouts “to the letter” but are leaving some purpose and motivation on the table by not really comprehending why you’re doing what you’re doing when you’re doing it? If so, engage more with your coach to gain the comprehension, which will then lead to more purpose behind the workouts and greater motivation during them. Changing nothing else but this one thing will help you perform better in racing, making all the blood, sweat and tears well worth it.