How Endurance Athletes Stay Motivated

Get motivated with these quick and easy tricks!

Endurance athletes are notorious for having a high level of motivation. They set goals, train long hours, recover, and eat with a purpose -- all to fulfill a desire to succeed. That success is based upon one simple equation:

Inspiration + Action = Motivation

As Sports Psychologist, Dr. Jim Taylor notes, motivation is “the ability to initiate and persist at a task…one must be willing to work hard in the face of fatigue, boredom, pain, and the desire to do other things.” The truth of the matter is that training is hard work. No one ever said it was going to be easy. Much like the phases of the moon, motivation can wane and if it does, that’s the time to call upon a few of these quick and easy tricks to keep your training groove going.

1) Learn the S & A's of Training: Structure & Accountability

A key component to success lies in creating a structured program that holds you to account. One study, published by the Journal of American Medical Association showed that participants who followed a structured program were more likely to lose weight than those who tried to lose weight on their own. In these programs, participants maintained regular weigh-ins (structure) and consistent meetings (accountability). A few ways to boost the S&A’s of your own training are as followed:

  • Hire a coach. Your coach will design a structured training plan and review your weekly progress. Schedule regular check-in calls to help keep you on track.

  • Buddy-up! Create agreements with your friends and family to train (especially during those “most likely to be missed” workouts). Don’t have anyone to train with? Join a running club that offers group training or download one of the many fitness apps out there that let you compete with others.

  • Post your weekly or monthly plan in a place you see each and every day. Doing so will ensure you don't forget about training.

2) Don't think. Just do.

In the face of commitment, sometimes the monkey chatter in the head can cause demise to a training session. Pay attention to when those monkeys play negotiating games with your dedication to train. Simply notice and turn off that negative inner-dialog and get the workout done. Boom!

Expert tip: Find or create a motivating mantra for yourself.

Jens Voigt, professional Tour de France cyclist, has the words  “Shut Up Legs” embedded into the top-tube of his bike. What’s your slogan?

3) Get some retail therapy.

Looking good can mean feeling good -- especially if that “something new” you bought gets you out the door and on your way. A few fun ways to spruce up your look may include: buying fresh colored bar tape or new tires; a fashionable Betty Designs cycle or tri kit, a new shirt, heart rate monitor or even a new power meter. Training may not be easy, but it can be pretty, so make it fun!

4) Capture your inspiration.

Revisit that vision which inspired you to train. What was it that inspired you? Who inspired you? Connect to that feeling of being inspired and you'll be in a better place to stay on track.

Two people who have inspired many in the sport of triathlon and running are father-son duo, Dick and Rick Hoyt. Rick, the son, has cerebral palsy. The condition left Rick’s body twisted and wheelchair-bound. But that did not stop his father, Dick, from sharing the accomplishment of crossing a finish line together. At the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, Dick swam 2.4 miles, biked 112 miles and ran 26.2 miles by pulling, then pushing his wheelchair-bound son through the race – Rick relished every minute of feeling unbound and free! At the Boston Marathon, April 2014, the duo, now 73 and 52 years of age, ran their 32nd and “last” marathon. Sometimes being inspired means finding people that inspire us to dig deeper and push further. Remember the bigger picture.

5) Rest.

In case all else fails, take a “911” approach to training by giving your body the rest it may very well need. Feeling lacklustre towards a valued training goal is common, especially if you've been training hard without a much-needed recovery. The signs of fatigue may often be overlooked when motivation is high. A break may be exactly what your body is asking for. Recovery weeks are programmed into training plans every 2 two 3 weeks, depending on an athlete’s age or training base. If it’s been a while since you took some time off, dial the workouts down a notch or two for a week -- get caught up on sleep and spend time with family and friends.

Have any tips to stay motivated? let us know in the comments section!

This article was written by Dorette Franks, founder of Fueling 4 Life and co-owner of Trifiniti Endurance. Dorette offers individual, group, and cooperate fitness and nutrition wellness coaching to those seeking nutrition balance, weight loss and athletic performance. Her training plans have been utilized by Nike, The San Francisco Aids Foundation, the Golden Gate Triathlon Club, and has received accolades in SHAPERunners World, and Women's Health magazines.


Photo Credits: Jens Voigt: Pro Bike Gallery: Jens Voigt's Madone 7
Betty Designs: Betty Designs (permission to use photo) Dick and Rick Hoyt: ESSDRAS M SUAREZ/GLOBE STAFF
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