The Off Season: More on Getting Things Done
Last post, I wrote about getting disciplined and how to keep from floundering when motivation fails. The average person has a lot on their plates, and when they fail to meet their training goals it causes stress. Today we explore some other ways that we can tackle winter training and get things done when motivation is not doing the trick. Here are some habits to start (or at least try out) and then we will explore a few things about motivation. You might remember that i warned about over reliance on motivation earlier but that does not mean we cannot use it a little to our advantage.
Time of Least Resistance
My wife is an extreme morning person. She can get up and have 90 minutes of work in before I get up at 6:30 am on a weekday to go to the office. That's her crushing another running event in the picture above. She is amazing in so many ways, but this early rising thing is something I fail at time and time again.
Why? Because I am not a morning person. She is super productive when morning comes around, but she is and has never been one for late nights. I am wired like my father on the other hand. I would get up at 11 am and stay up until 2 am every day if I could. I love the nighttime.
How does this apply to training? Try to figure out the time of the day when you train the most, when you have the most fun doing it, and when you are least likely to balk at hopping on the trainer. If you simply cannot get up early, then do the work when you feel most up to it.
I know for me that right after I get home from work, as long as I clear my list of to-do things, I love to get a good ride in before dinner. If I wait until after dinner, I am most likely to not ride at all. I'm too full. Let's get some shopping done. Let's take the dogs for a longer walk.
You have probably heard people say, "You're on a roll! Keep going" Steven Pressfield is one of my favorite authors, his novels Last of the Amazons and Gates of Fire are two of my absolute favorite books. He writes eloquently about the writing and creative process in his book, The War of Art. In it, he speaks about carrying momentum forward as you finish something already done well. You can click the link on his name to read his more eloquent explanation of this. He tells it much better than I could ever pull off, but I will try to give you the gist here.
When Pressfield finished his first novel, his mentor told him, "Start the next one tomorrow." His mentor knew that those troughs that take place between real accomplishment are where we often quit or drop out. The pause is the dangerous part when self-doubt and laziness rear their ugly heads.
You can even build on productive momentum in an even more simple way. Try this... Before your next workout, get kitted up and then go and wash your dishes. Walk over to the sink and start cleaning away This is a simple brainless task that you can easily get accomplished. After finishing this, hop right on the bike and see how the momentum carries you to getting things started. It may not ensure that you finish the workout, but getting started is the hardest part for sure. Effective people have been doing this sort of task coupling for years. Once you stop, it gets harder to start back up, so work on trying to keep the ball rolling. Go with the flow.
Try Putting Fewer Things on Your List
This one is a lot more simple that it seems. You probably already have too many things to do, so shorten that list up a bit. Prioritize. If you have too many things on your list, you are more likely to feel like a failure when you don't get through everything. If you have fewer things on your list, you will get things done and then you can ride the wave of momentum into completing other tasks.
Having less things on your critical to do list also helps to provide a sense of quality over quantity. Are you trying to get everything done, or are you trying to get things done well? If training is a priority for you than make it clear and put it on your short list. If you identify 3 or 4 things you absolutely want to get done, you are on the path to kicking some butt. If you had ten things on your list, training can easily get lost in the shuffle. There is a reason they call it the short list!
Push and Pull Motivation
These terms for two types of motivation are becoming more known, and by being aware of them we can utilize components of each to get things done.
Push motivation is when a person has to push themselves to complete an activity. For instance, a racer might have to give up going out late with friends to make an early race the next morning. Or, she might have to really push herself to try to beat her personal best on that course.
Pull motivation is when one is naturally pulled towards completing something. I get a sense of pull motivation when it comes to the Sunday coffee shop rides we do or teh rides to the Falls we undertake many times a year. The desire to be with friends or to see the beauty of the Niagara make it easier to ride the 35-40 miles it takes to get there and back.
When applying these types of motivation to training, first look at your goals and see which type of situation it is. Doing big training blocks of threshold work or doing 4 blocks of sweet spot might not be a lot of fun. This might be a real push situation where I need to push myself quite a bit to complete the work. Therefore, I want to make sure that I couple this training block with a habit that makes intiatiating it and following through more likely to be successful.
When I am in a pull situation, I might make sure I am perfectly rested and fueled. I might need to make sure I have cleared a time to do it so no conflicts arise or an event seems like a better option. Maybe I promise myself a nice reward for doing it? Maybe I tell a lot of people I am going to do it so I don't quit.
I remember last August I posted in Facebook that I was headed to do a solo century the next day, full report and pictures tomorrow. That helped me get it done. People encouraged me, my wife knew the schedule, and it got done.
Pull motivations also can be utilized for training. I have a great smart trainer set up in my CycleOps Hammer and Asus gaming laptop. This things is amazing and runs Zwift so smoothly. I really enjoy riding this setup, and simply put it inspires me to workout.
Or outdoors, when training it is easy to find a favorite place to ride to or a favorite friend to train with. When you are pulled by enjoyment to participate, training gets done. This doesn't mean that you need to spend a lot of money on bikes or kit, but finding happiness in things does make hard training more likely to get done.
Good luck! Try to establish some good habit, and try to utilize discipline and maximize your motivation. Happy training this winter!