Motivation never comes easy, especially when it comes to exercise. Busy lifestyles, schedules and the need to train on a high level will all butt heads at some point. Let’s face it, if you want to be good at a sport, then you are going to need to train when you’re tired, stressed, and pinched for time. So, what motivates you? Are you motivated by the sights and feel of a workout or by the numbers? Determining this will help you figure out which side of the brain you like to use most, which will then help you dig deep for motivation when you need it.
Most athletes will train on a daily basis but never think about what motivates them. As a coach, I try to figure out what motivates people, but as a self-coached athlete, you need to do this on your own and it’s important to do. You need to determine whether you are a left or right brained dominant person and use this to your advantage. So let’s take a look at the differences between left and right brain characteristics.
Someone who is left brain dominant is focused on order, and sequence. You are also focused on numbers. If data and analytical conversations get you excited, then you need to motivate yourself by the potential numbers to be worked and gained within a workout. Sure this means focusing on the timed intervals prescribed for the day, but it also means to focus on potential elevation gain, distance to be covered, or how many complete intervals you think you can achieve. Think of this before you think about your route and what you will experience emotionally. So, while building motivation for your daily workout, think about how enjoyable it will be to achieve a certain set of stats. This is your motivation.
Creative, right brained dominant people are just as competitive as anyone. We (as I am one of the right brained people) are just as focused on getting fast, but we focus on getting there in a different way. We are focused on numbers, such as peak power outputs for a ten minute effort or a PR for a 10k, but only if achieving those numbers happen in a creative way. For the right brained dominant person, focus on the journey and what you may experience on each ride or run first. When the leaves change during the fall, first think about possible routes that will allow you to experience the views of the season, then which route best suits the workout. On any day, think about what the feel of the workout will bring, with breathing, the rhythms, and how enjoyable that is. Grasp this and use it to your advantage, because visualization and feel is your main motivation.
Once you’re out the door and heart rate is elevated, you’re committed to the workout and most likely, you’re going to get a scheduled workout completed. The hardest part is getting out the door and committing to a certain time frame for a workout. Figuring out what makes you tick plays a large role in helping you get motivated. Think about your workouts ahead of time. Generate that motivation in advance, like days in advance. Then, when it comes time to achieve some numbers or enjoy the views, you will be more than ready to lace up the shoes and tackle that experience.
Mike Schultz, CSCS