Training motivation: What it needs to unleash the athlete within you.
We all could use some training motivation. But sometimes even the best quote is not good enough to get us out of the dark hole. Especially after workout and workout and workout and still no sign of any improvement or weight loss success. It can be frustrating. What lessons should we learn from failure?
My younger me for instance hated long distance running (meaning everything over the occasional 200 meters sprint to the bus stop). So you can guess that my motivations picking sports as a major in high school had nothing to do with getting stronger but with hanging out with the cool dudes.
I paid a high price for it and nearly ran myself to death at an 8K final endurance test on a pretty flat track. As you can imagine it was a very, very, very hot summer evening being about 20 degrees Celsius. I was wearing my well broken-in 2-year-old all-purpose runners. I had wisely eaten a good meal before the run to sustain my energy level. And I had brought a bottle of cold fresh carbonated sparkling spring water for hydration after the run. However, my detailed preparations (including the occasionally 15 minutes training runs every 2 weeks prior the event) did not pay off the way I hoped for.
To wrap up my hours of suffering: My lovely classmates finished all with flying colors. And because they couldn’t watch me being in distress all by myself, they kept running with me (partly backwards – that is how slow I was) and dragged me to the finish line.
What is failure teaching us?
You guessed right. After this embarrassing and close to death experience the thought that I didn’t even have the talent needed to be a weekend warrior settled into my brain and dominated my way of sportive thinking until I reached my mid 30’s.
And then I moved to Vancouver. And the people of Vancouver taught me different! Rain or shine, young at age or young at heart, everybody can move. And finally I understood what this high school event was trying to teach me. The reasons why I didn’t make it to the Olympics were very simple.
A) I had no idea what I was doing, so everything I did made running harder
- I was so naive to think, that I could somehow manage this test without training for it. Dah!
- Eating before the run made me feel like I had swallowed a concrete block.
- Not being hydrated put extra stress on my body
- I had no proper gear.
B) Not succeeding made me think that I actually CAN’T do it, which resulted in neglecting all activities that included an increased heartbeat.
Our limitations may just be in our mind
If you are thinking that your body simply CAN’T handle sport then consider this. Our bodies are incredible. They can do amazing things. The sad thing is, that we are not aware of the magic that is happening in our bodies every single moment. I mean really. How crazy is that? There is a muscle in our chest that contracts on average 60 times per minute, 3,600 times per hour or at least 86,400 times a day. Do the math yourself for a year or the age you are.
While the heart is contracting it pumps 4 to 5 liters of blood through a vessel system that measures, laid end to end, about 60,000 miles or 96,500 km. After your red blood cells managed approximately 250,000 trips around in your circulatory system they die after about 120 days. Bone marrow constantly produces about two million new red blood cells per second. And you are thinking you CAN’T do sports? Sounds a bit silly after the facts above. Don’t you think?
What’s on the top your excuse list?
However, some people really can’t do sports due to health conditions. But it is very likely that you don’t belong to this group. So it’s time to be honest. Now that you know that your body actually is equiped with all tools needed for movement, you have to admit that it is your mind that is truly holding you back.
Too old? (Careful! If you click this link you’ll never ever again be able to use this excuse!)
Nothing to wear?
Failed too often? Then watch this video for some motivational boost.
Stop fooling yourself with cheap excuses. Yes, training for whatever sport puts you out of your comfort zone. But that is the zone where you grow and where you become healthier and happier. You are a miracle and you can do this when you really want to. So set yourself up for success.
How do we set ourselves up for a successful training?
Well, what do you do before you go into an important business meeting? You prepare yourself and know what you are talking about. You don’t just wing it.
If you are not prepared things might go terrible wrong. Let’s say you decide to go on your first run ever. You are absolutely motivated and proud of your commitment. You grap your old runners and bang, the front door closes behind you. Then you start running.
When you come back you might experience the following scenarios. You will be absolutely exhausted. Your head looks like a fire hydrant. And you’re close to vomiting. Why? Because you didn’t know what you were doing and went to hard for the first time. Maybe you didn’t wear proper shoes and sprained your ankle. Maybe you were not hydrated, which made it extra hard for your body. Maybe you didn’t think about a nice location and ran in heavy traffic or a construction area. And what will you think after all this? Running sucks big time!
And why did it suck? Not because your body wasn’t up for the challenge. Because you weren’t prepared! You just passed the ball back to your brain, which now has powerful excuses that prevent you from going on a next run.
Thinking about unleashing the athlete in you? In this article I share my pit stops that set me up for my running success:
Since I changed my mindset I completed three half-marathons, the last one in 1h 45min and finished in 3rd place in my age group while taking on my first sprint triathlon. I won’t participate at any Olympics but now at least I know I CAN and YES, you can do this too. Because we are all superman’s and superwoman’s. Thank you Paul for this great picture from artsee1.com.