What motivates you and how to do you stay on track? We're all different athletes and that answer is unique to each of us.
For me, and for those of you that know me, this won't be a surprise, I like data. The more data the better. Power data on the bike. Pace data on the run. I like to collect that data and then look at it in micro and macro-cycles. Its an objective way to tell me where I'm at in my training goals and where I need to be. I can also look back across years of data to see what worked, what didn't and how to make program changes to affect a real change rather than just doing the same thing and hoping for different results. But, despite my deep, geeked out interest in data, I don't find it motivating. It's not what makes me get up early when the snooze button is so easy or when the weather isn't quite cooperating with what would otherwise make for a quite pleasant workout.
I need to see the progress, in some form, in real time. In college, when I was training for an ironman, the campus rec office was running a “Roads Scholar” contest. The rules were simple; they gave you a table with a bunch of blocks to fill in based on the distance covered over any variety of activities. Everything was converted back to some equivalency of running 1 mile. Once you filled in the chart by covering the distance, you got a t-shirt. I casually picked up 3, one for the swim, bike and run, and then less than a month later went into the guy’s office running the program to collect my shirt. To be honest, the shirt was terrible, and he didn’t even have them made yet, but that wasn’t really the point. I picked up a few extra sheets, put them on my wall in my bedroom and continued to fill in boxes as my training progressed. That visual feedback became incredibly motivating.
As I once again find myself training for an ironman and more immediately, the Bayshore Marathon, I needed another way to keep myself motivated through the winter. The attached photo is that motivation. A giant calendar of 2015, taped to my wall, where I can cross off and write down the mileage from each run, ride and swim. As you can see in this example, February didn’t go so well, which made me extra motivated for March, which went really well. The other great thing about some sort of visual tracking system, is when February didn’t go well, I could look at the future dates for races, realize they were many, many days in the future, not have a panic attack trying to fill in the gaps. I just knew I needed to get back on track.
I’m not trying to brag about my own training. I’m hoping that some of you may read this and figure out what system you can implement, if you don’t already have one, that will help you stay on track as you train hard for your goals.
*It should be noted and hopefully obvious that I am not following the gigantic “No Days Off” mantra of this calendar. Tracksmith (which is a sweet little running clothing company out of New England) made these and gave them away for free in exchange for joining their mailing list. No idea if they’re still available, but I like the design, so I snagged one. Please do take days off. They are important.
**Don’t judge my apparent inability to do math at the end of each month. I blame my iPhone calculator.