Mental Training: Motivation

This is part 1 of 6 looking into the mental factors discussed in “The Triathlete’s Guide to Mental Training”. The six factors are motivation, confidence, intensity, focus, emotions, and pain.

Motivation, simply defined, is the ability to initiate and persist at a task.

It’s pretty simple – your motivation will determine your effort in training and races.  How well do you maintain your efforts while facing fatigue, boredom, pain, and other distractions? Your level of motivation will affect every other aspect of your performance: physical conditioning, technical training, mental preparation, and your general lifestyle (sleep, diet, work, relationships, etc.).

Motivation is the only contributor to your performance over which you have total control. We all have those days where we don’t feel like eating up the pavement, turning the wheels or moving some water around. The more often you train, the more often these days will pop up. However, if they become a regular occurrence, then you need to address your true motivation.

Here’s some quick ways to increase your motivation:

  • Make long-term goals and focus on them
  • Surround yourself with people who support your goals
  • Give yourself a pat on the back when you finish a tough workout or race
  • Keep your training exciting by varying your workouts
  • Think about what your competition is doing (are you working as hard as they are?)
  • Find inspiration in other people, quotes, photographs, etc.
  • Maximize your daily effort by asking two questions. When you get up in the morning, ask, “What can I do today to become the best athlete I can be?” and before bead, ask, “Did I do everything possible today to become the best athlete I can be?

Without motivation, none of the other factors that I discuss in the next few days will matter. If you find yourself lacking motivation, look at the list above and see what needs to be changed. If you need some additional motivation, just look at this poster:

“It’s the size of one’s will which determines success”



    Yasso 800’s (800 meter runs at a high intensity, with 3 minutes of easy jogging between each)
    Warm-up (ran to the track) – 1.32 miles in 9:36 (7:16 min/mile pace)
    1) 3:04 (Avg HR – 153, max – 168)
    2) 3:07 (Avg HR – 166, max – 174)
    3) 3:10 (Avg HR – 168, max – 175)
    4) 3:01 (Avg HR – 166, max – 177)
    Cool-down (ran back to the gym)- 1.32 miles in 10:21 (7:50 min/mile pace)
    Total Workout: 5.88 miles in 48:50

    Chart showing my heart rate and speed. Goal is to keep my HR from increasing with each interval…didn’t happen.

    5 minutes of drills
    23 minutes of swimming at comfortable pace
    Totals: 1440yd in 28:00 (34:13 min/mile pace)

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