Tips to Stay Motivated When Training by Lex Albrecht
I don't think I'll ever get tired of riding my bike... I love it so much! But everything about being a professional athlete, including the lifestyle, can be taxing. Sometimes, the motivation to train hard dwindles away. During the past 8 years of my career it's been essential to find creative ways to amp myself back up about putting the work in! You might find some of my tricks useful for yourself.
Usually having a lack of motivation is a sign that I am tired. Fatigue can be caused just as much by physical factors as it can by mental ones. I listen to 10-15 minutes guided meditations online, spend 1 or 2 hours at the spa, or do a yin yoga class to clear my mind and help let it rest. Also, all of my glasses have Nikon lenses with See Coat Blue that helps filter out blue light from my devices. I notice a significant difference in how fatigued my head feels after spending a lot of time using my phone or computer without wearing my glasses with this technology.
Writing down a to-do list before I go out training is another way that I clear my mind of other obligations. Otherwise, they'll spin around in the back of my head and distract me from putting out a full effort during my workouts, and also from enjoying the ride. If I know everything I must do later is written down back home, I don't need to worry about trying to remember it.
It can be challenging during weeks upon weeks of travel, but I do what I can to always sleep well and eat well. Those are two keys to making your body strong, resilient and healthy. When your body feels good, the motivation to train will be top notch too.
Keep a balance between pushing yourself and being kind when you feel like you "just don't want to". On days when I find that my motivation is low, I set a minimum goal of minutes, repetitions, distance... etc.. Once I achieve the minimum, I re-evaluate. Often times, I feel ready to do more, but if I find myself feeling empty, or dreading to continue, I congratulate myself for reaching my goal, then give myself permission to go home and rest.
If you're just starting a training regiment, make a 10-day plan, and commit to sticking to it. The first few days might be challenging as you adapt your body and mind to a new routine, but by the end of the period, it will start to become a part of your everyday "normal". 10 days isn't too overwhelming; it's an achievable goal, and once you achieve it, you'll likely be ready to set your next one. Small bites!
I like to find creative ways to keep things fresh and fun. For example, I save my best music (hip hop!) for my hardest indoor training sessions, and I create training routes that bring me through twisty, hilly roads in the country that I haven't been on before. That way I mix in a bit of adventure with my workouts. When I have an easy recovery ride to do, often I'll return to "ride easy" where I usually do my hardest efforts. That way my mind won't associate those roads exclusively with suffering.
Keeping a training journal is also motivating. I use an online program called Training Peaks, but a paper notebook can do the trick. The entry doesn't have to be complex, just a summary of the exercise you've done. It's rewarding feeling to watch the pages fill up with your accomplishments, and motivating when you know you'll have something to add after your workout.
Most of all, be kind to yourself. If you have a bad day, don't worry about it. In the big picture, it's usually not as dramatic as we think it is, in the moment. It's how you deal with these days that determine success later down the road... Also, there's no need to let modesty get in the way of congratulating your own self. I literally pat myself on the back or say "Good job, Lex" when I really nail an interval set or a tough training ride. It might look silly, but I can own that.