Our blog this week comes from another new guest triathlon blogger – IronPhil! He has a great blog and has kindly stepped up to provide this weeks blog with an insight into the mind of an ironman in training and how you keep your motivation levels up through the dark, miserable winter.
So I’ve been asked to write a few words on what motivates me to do endurance events (by which I mean Ironman Triathlon, single day bike rides of over 400km, 7 day bike rides of 1,600km, 14km swims… and a whole host of other similar stuff).
I’ve been asked to include hints about what it is that I trigger within myself that enables me to get out and train in the dark, cold, wet and windy conditions that grace my part of the world for what seems like months on end at this time of year.
My initial reaction was to write a whole load of words about how I motivate myself and, therefore, how you can motivate yourself, too.
In the process of so doing, I’d probably make myself sound pretty “hardcore” and “insanely positive” whilst, at the same time, making you feel all “uplifted”.
That sounds like a bit of a “win-win”, to me.
But then I thought some more and decided to be brutally honest, instead.
Given the stuff that I do, many people who know me less well often “accuse” me of being incredibly motivated.. they question just how I do some of the things I do.
“Oh you must be such a go-getter” – I get that a lot!
People who know me better, though, realise that I’m not really “motivated” at all.
And I certainly don’t see myself as a “go-getter”!
To me, getting up and out on my bike… or getting a wetsuit on at the start of a long swim… or donning my running shoes to head out for a run in the rain… takes no more motivation than it takes many people to simply have a lie-in on a Saturday morning after a heavy night out.
By which I mean “no motivation at all”.
If you’re lying in bed… and you want to be lying in bed… it’s not as if you have to give yourself a big pep-talk to stop yourself getting up, is it?
Similarly, if I’m about to start a training session or an event…. and I really enjoy what I’m about to do… what makes anyone think that I need to convince myself to do it?
What I’m trying to say is that, if you find something that you enjoy and that you want to do, it takes zero motivation to do it… that’s pretty clear to me.
So if you’re reading this trying to find the motivation to get out there and do some endurance events, I can’t pretend to be able to help… but then, I’m really not sure that anyone can help… if you need me to motivate you, then the battle is already lost.
Conversely, if it’s something you want to do, you’ll find a way without my input – or anyone else’s for that matter.
The moral, then, is to find something that you want to do… something that you don’t see as a chore.
I’m a huge believer in the notion that the number one priority of any training is enjoyment… if you have that then the rest can follow… if you don’t then, whilst a bit of external motivation (in the form of a motivational speaker, for instance) may be sufficient to get you to start training in the short term, it can’t offer a permanent solution… permanence can only come from within.
Now I’ve cut through the nonsense about my own level of self-motivation, and probably left you feeling a bit demoralised, I will move on to exactly what it is I enjoy about what I do.
Hopefully, telling you about what I enjoy might just make you realise that you’ll enjoy it, too… and all of a sudden, you’ll find your own raison d’être.
In a nutshell, I just love that feeling of pushing myself to (and sometimes beyond) my physical and mental limit… and that is something that endurance sports are very good at doing.
It’s not really about overcoming the urge to stop, though – that would suggest that it’s an exercise in defeating negative thoughts… in reality, completing endurance events is about more positive thinking.
It’s about knowing that the satisfaction you feel both during and after an endurance event increases exponentially with the more time you spend doing it and, therefore, wanting to keep going to get more and more of that sensation!
The most satisfying day of my life (from a training point of view, of course… it’s not even close to my wedding day or the birth of my sons. I’ve got to say that since my wife may be reading) was the day I took part in Ironman Sweden… and it’s no coincidence that it was also my hardest.
So to take part in endurance sport is to acknowledge that “satisfaction” in your own achievements is a drug and the event itself is the way that the drug is administered. The longer you go, and the harder you push yourself, the better the “high” you feel will be.
And I’ll only give up on my particular drug habit when either my body tells me that it’s had enough or my mind tells me that I’m just no longer having a good time.
Until then, I’ll carry on trying to find my limit.