I have in the past talked about aspects of motivation and in particular, techniques to help the demotivated athlete rediscover their mojo.
Today, I’m asking a far more fundamental question and propose my own hypothesis.
Why do we do it?
That question is often the starting point for goal setting, if you know why you do, or want to do something, then you are a good way toward setting goals for your achievement and describing the goal or your progression toward it, using SMART objectives. That’s where we can often find our motivation to train – we understand why we do it.
So, just for a few moments, before you read on, ask yourself why you do it. None of us train ‘triathlon’ or train ‘Ironman’ we train our swimming, cycling and running. So, answer that for yourself.
OK, if you have immediately read on to this paragraph, put your hands on your head and stand in the corner of the room. Go on!
So, now we’re alone, here’s what I think. For the vast majority of us, we do it because we love it. We love the feeling of moving through water, being out on our bikes, even when the big climbs hurt and we love running, sometimes through the forest but other times just through the paved streets, on our way home. Is that right for you, or not?
So, if we are doing these things that might be summarised as ‘training’ because we love them, or in some distinctly personal way, gain joy from them, why do we insist on measuring our performance in purely quantitative terms? We are constantly chasing times, PBs, SBs, PRs, Strava segments, FTP, CSS, KOM, W/Kg, MPH, m/s, m/s/s? If you climb a few places up the finisher rankings well, great but unless you’re a podium contender, is anyone else really taking note of the twenty age group places you’ve gained since the same race last year?
What’s the point? Really?
I hear you trot out that “the you of today is ‘better’ than the you of yesterday”. OK I get that. But is the best way to measure a better you, to know that you ran down ‘Back Lane’ 2 seconds quicker than last time you were out and are now 4th out of those you follow on Strava for that segment? Is that you??
I propose that the better me, is the person that enjoys training today, even more than I enjoyed it yesterday. If my motive to train is because I enjoy the activities, then surely enjoyment is the key metric to measure my improvement? After all, if I’m enjoying my training, I’m much more likely to want to do my next session and create training consistency, which seems to be the universally agreed predictor for a good race day performance.
Welcome to ER – your new performance metric!
Emotional Response (ER) is the label I’ve given to the joy of training. It captures the feeling you get while you’re out there, as the sun rises over the hedgerow and it also reflects the feelings of satisfaction and accomplishment you feel when you’ve finished your planned (or unplanned) training session.
So how will we measure it? I don’t expect yet another numerical scale to do it justice, after all, emotion is personal and the joy you experience from each session is unique.
I propose a colour chart. What better scale than shades of pink?
The range is personal to you but I’d suggest that when you feel like shouting “again Dad, again!” like a child who’s just gone down a giant water slide for the first time, then your way out there over to the left. If you spent most of your session and the rest of the morning wondering why you bother, then you’re somewhere over to the right.
If you find yourself over to the right for several sessions, days or weeks, then you’re either heading for, or are already demotivated, feeling a loss of mojo and skipped sessions and inconsistency are almost inevitable.
That might be a good time to talk to your coach about making some changes to your training that might affect the volume, intensity, location, timing, balance or focus of your sessions and overall plan.
If pink is likely to clash with the colour of your favourite tri suit, then make up your own sliding scale to express for your Emotional Response (ER) to your training sessions.
How does that feel?
GI Tri Coach