What Motivates You ?

WhatMotivatesYou.jpgThis weekend has been rather indicative of my motivation of late. I managed to get up early Saturday morning and ride with the group. Once out I was riding really well but got home and before I knew it my ability to get my arse out the door for my run was zero. Roll on Sunday since Jo and I are going out in the evening so I have a convenient excuse to watch the athletics live in the morning. At that point it would have taken close to nothing to stop me riding at all. Luckily that almost nothing thing didn’t arrive so I forced myself out the door. Once out I was right on it, enjoying it, hugely motivated and did my 50 mile route in 2:26 (best ever) with a np of 269 watts which is more or less best ever. Come home and my performance is sufficient excuse for me not to run. Finally this morning I plan to swim at squad, pretty critical really given how little swimming I’ve done of late but alarm goes off and I simple say to myself “what difference can it make with the race on Sunday” and promptly roll over back to sleep.

My motivation currently is in this weird place where getting myself out the door is proving close to impossible but if I get out I’m fully motivated. Strangely even the knowledge of this doesn’t help be get out. I think a big part is that triathlon is now only taking a fraction of my thoughts. I had a period of several years where it dominated my thoughts but during this year thats changed hugely and in tandem my motivation has evaporated.

The height of that motivation was probably the first two months of 2009 where I did 333 hours training in Jan and Feb though it did culminate with a snapped FHL tendon. This past year I’ve been limiting my hours to 100 or less a month and I wonder sometimes whether that has contributed to this. It’s something I’m thinking on and will post about post Kona.

Watching the World Athletics championships got me mulling over a thought I’ve had for years. Ignoring clear impracticalities consider whether you feel the athletes there would be motivated to excellence if the only person who would know how well they did was themselves. ie no one else would know. This means that the event would somehow be held behind closed doors and competitors wouldn’t know how each other did (clear impracticality here but please ignore for this thought experiment). Each competitor would get their own time, their position and a list of all other times (without names) but the world at large wouldn’t know and they couldn’t discuss it with anyone.

This scenario clearly tries to isolate internal motivation. Would it be enough to know yourself that you were the best or had the world record if no one else knew ?

Thinking of it in terms of Ironman – would I be motivated to take part if the same rules applied. I would know if I podium’d but no one else would. My gut reaction is that I just wouldn’t compete. For me a big factor is the recognition from my peers. Would I chase sub 9 hours next year if I was the only one to know – probably.

This thought experiment helps me realise that I enjoy training. Racing isn’t something I enjoy anywhere  near as much. I love the build up and aftermath to big races (especially Kona) and it’s that that gets me to compete but the actual race itself – nah! not that much fun. Why do I race ? A big point of entering races for me is that it gives focus and direction to the training. Entering and taking part in races makes the training more fun. There’s also, like I just said, the fun of the build up and aftermath.

So given the scenario above would I even bother racing. Probably not. I would go back to all the things I know motivate me – I’d chase Eddington Numbers, I’d try to ride ever further and I’d go back to fell running with friends – pick ever bigger challenges to attempt. Back in those days the only people that were ever bothered about what we’d achieved were Alan and myself and it was sufficient to shoot the breeze over a beer or four before trying something new the next day. There was no need to tell anyone else.

So I have Ironman Wales in 6 days and i must say my enthusiasm is at an all time low. My aim was and still is to qualify for Kona. I think there’s an outside chance I can do it. Certainly my biking is going well and my running is probably better than a year ago. Swimming has been non existent to all intents and purposes since IM Austria so it will be interesting to see how I go. At the start of the year I’d felt if I didn’t qualify at Wales I would enter IM St George to try and get a slot but I’m pretty sure now that I won’t. Instead I will try and relax next year and aim to get balance back in to my life which currently means getting slightly more of my thoughts back on to Triathlon. In order to do that I believe I need to focus back on just enjoying training and see where that takes me.

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