When you get in a mental rut, it’s always wise to take a moment, think back and remind yourself why you started in the first place. Chances are you had a legitimate reason for taking on triathlon and signing up for a specific race. But the months, or even years for some, of the monotony of swim, bike and run training as well as focusing on the day in and day out routine could make you lose sight of the bigger picture.
If thinking back to why you started doesn’t re-ignite that fire, you may need at least a temporary change in your routine. It may not have to be a major shift, but just enough of new energy to give you a different perspective on your daily efforts to help get out of that mental plateau.
Here are 11 small changes you can implement to keep the motivation alive.
1. Stop running your favorite route all the time — make it a point to check out a new neighborhood or trail.
2. If you’re used to cycling outdoors by yourself, join a group for at least a couple rides.
3. Trade in some of your shorter cycling sessions for a few spin classes.
4. If you’re used to going to a certain gym or pool regularly, grab a one-week guest pass at a different facility to change your environment for a few days.
5. Check out a masters swim group at least for a few workouts.
6. Make sure your training program has an easier week to help your body absorb the three-week build phase.
7. Build other activities into your program (like hiking, mountain biking, yoga) that will give you a mental break from the program but still will benefit your overall fitness.
8. Hire a coach who will create a program that includes new and fresh workouts you may have not done before but also builds more rest into your schedule.
9. Incorporate more real, unprocessed foods that will fuel you and give you more energy.
10. Incorporate more live nutrients from plants. Add a smoothie or cold-pressed juice to your nutrition plan.
11. Extend your sleep by 30 minutes. Sometimes we lose motivation because we’re not recovering properly and end up tired most of the time.
Making changes in intensity, variety, environment, nutrition and the mentorship you have will add a new stimulant and create new energy in your routine.
If you’ve tried some of the above tips and are still struggling with motivation, it is possible that your ‘why’ is not big enough? Revisit the reason why you’re doing this sport in the first place. Is it to prove to yourself that you can accomplish something you once considered impossible? Is it to be a better example and inspire your kids?
You can even go as far as committing to raising funds for a meaningful charity through racing. All of a sudden, you’ll have a totally new purpose for training that reaches way beyond just becoming more fit.
If your ‘why’ is big enough, it will continue to propel you forward.
Peter Kadzielawski is a USA Triathlon Certified Coach and the founder of thetrihub.com. He holds certifications in sports nutrition and personal training. As a nine-time IRONMAN finisher, who still remembers struggling through his first 5k run, Kadzielawski strives to inspire his clients and athletes to unleash their potential and rediscover new possibilities. Since 2001 Kadzielawski has worked with individuals from many backgrounds, some taking up exercise for the first time looking for weight loss and toning, and others seeking guidance with a more extreme goal of training for an IRONMAN triathlon. Kadzielawski’s work has been published in Competitor Magazine, Golf Fitness Magazine and on the Colorado Runner website. Currently he coaches triathletes globally from sunny Arizona.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and not necessarily the practices of USA Triathlon. Before starting any new diet or exercise program, you should check with your physician and/or coach.