Triathlon. The crazy sport where one sport is not enough so you decide to do three. (It could be argued that you need to learn four if you include the mysterious art of transition, the controlled sprint from one sport to the next….)
People often ask how on earth you stay motivated to train for all the disciplines involved. Here is a secret. Many find it easier than training for a single sport. I moved over to triathlon after training for a marathon and getting bored rigid with running and consequently totally unmotivated. Getting up and knowing you were going to be going for a run. So I looked for a different endurance sport that would keep me engaged. And I definitely found it!
The joy of training for triathlon is the 3 different sports. You get more variety. And if you wake up and really can’t face a run in gale force winds and torrential rain, you can swap it about for a turbo session that has a similar focus.
This flexibility does have its dangers. It is human nature to avoid things that push us out of our comfort zone or that we perceive we are not good at. It is very easy to find you have been avoiding your swim sessions for a couple of weeks when it is the thing you really should be focussing on.
So how do we keep motivated to train for all three disciplines, especially when training for long events. Plan. Then plan. Then review and revise the plan. Simple really…..
To keep your training doable in the time you have, start with a lifestyle audit and review it once a quarter. Then add in the training. Put it somewhere that you will see it several times a day. Make sure it is set as a meeting in your calendar. That gives your training more importance.
Research local clubs, social groups etc that swim, bike, run locally. Training with other people gets you out of the door on those days where you really can’t be bothered and would quite like to make friends with the sofa and a good box set. Knowing that people are waiting for you is a great motivational tool. They will also help you to improve by pushing you and distracting you so you don’ realise how hard you have been working. The caveat to that is the sessions have to work for you so that you are getting what you need from them. If it is supposed to be a social ride that is your long slow endurance ride and they are tanking along at 35mph, find another group!
Use visualisation. It is a tool that works brilliantly for race day, but don’t keep it just for that. If you have a training session that is intimidating you, do your visualisation and gain a calmer and motivated mindset before you even start. If you have never been told how to do it properly, find someone to teach you how.
Use testing. I like to test every 6-8 weeks, same test, same environment, same conditions. This will show whether you are progressing rather than just guessing! And if you are not moving forward it gives you the opportunity to talk it through with someone and drill down to the reasons why.
Enter single discipline events. There is no hiding! They make great training sessions. Sportives, TT’s, Parkrun, 5k, 10k, half marathons, open water swims of all different distances. They give the buzz and camaraderie of events at the same time as making training sessions more fun. Just make sure you know how you are going to approach them and don’t get carried away by the atmosphere. Parkrun tourism is a great way to get fun training sessions in.
Put pictures up of your event from previous years. Put them where you will see them a lot during the day. Mine go on the fridge. Surround it with motivational phrases that work for you. Every time you see them, stop, pause and imagine yourself there, in that atmosphere, in that moment. Then remind yourself that the only way you will get that moment for real is to do the training consistently and smartly and pushing your comfort zone.
Get a coach. It gives you accountability to someone who will chivvy you along when you don’ feel like it or the weather is horrible. Someone who will pick up on when training is starting to slide and help you to work out why, then support you to get back on track. They also take away the excuse of not having time to plan your training, as it is all done for you. You just have to put your kit on and do it!
So there are a few ideas on keeping motivated. There are myriad ways. Experiment and find what works for you. Then use it to keep that training on track, especially over the approaching winter. Have fun!
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