Well, hello there! Jen here. I want to write a little blog about motivation, and namely, how to stay motivated through the season and through the years. I’ve been a pro cyclist for 5 years now. Before that I was a pro triathlete for 7 years. Before that I did other sports and swimming year round was one of them. The reason I’m telling you about my sports is that these are all sports with LONG seasons, I’ve been doing them for a long time, and it can be hard to hold motivation all the way through. I’ve always had tricks up my sleeve for that purpose though.
One of the biggest benefits to using these tricks to stay motivated all season long is that lots of athletes burn out by the end of the year and when that happens it leaves the door open for some great results for you. At the beginning of the year results can be harder to come by because everyone was so motivated all winter and they all came out swinging when the races started. Well, let me tell you, it’s way more fun to ride your bike when the weather's nice in the summer and get some good fall results than riding your bike in the rain in the spring for mediocre results!
Tip #1: Think about your year like you have a bucket full of motivation and you need it to last all year long. The bucket needs to empty slowly with steady drips. If you pour it out too fast and too early, you might not have the motivation to last the year. Also, some activities take more from the bucket than others. Personally, 40 degree rides in the rain take way more drops from my bucket than the same ride in the rain. Sometimes it’s worth it to suck it up and ride in the rain but sometimes it also might be worth it to empty fewer of the motivation drops out and hop on the trainer that day.
Tip #2: If you have a long season, plan a big break in the middle. I usually race from February until October. That’s a long time! Because it’s so long, I’ve always taken a week long break in the middle. I plan that at the beginning of the year and I stick to it. I usually don’t feel like I want to take a break then but it can often be good to take rest before you realize you need it. If I were to keep chugging along until I desperately need a break that would take too many drops from me and I’d burn out earlier in the year.
Tip #3: Take planned breaks even when things are going really well. I touch on this above but take rest before you know you need it. You know when you train yourself into the ground? Don’t do that! It’s far more effective to be able to train really consistently than to train so hard that you have to take a week off unexpectedly. I’ve always planned out my rest days, rest weeks, midseason breaks, and season end break and I stick to them. Rest is important!
Tip #4: Take an offseason! “But I just had the best season ever and I want to start training for next year already!” No, no, no. Your offseason is SO important. This is the time that your bucket of motivation gets filled up for the next year. Do some things that are fun, that are treats, that you don’t get to do or do as often during your season. In my offseason I like to run, hike, make elaborate meals that I don’t have time for during the season, go to late concerts, and visit friends every night of the week. This stuff fills my bucket so that when my offseason is done I’m not just fired up but REALLY fired up for the next year.