Motivation is all around us. If you put the word in a Google search you get 336 000 000 hits in only 0.42 seconds. Thousands of boards on motivation exist on Pinterest. Inspiring quotes and videos litter the internet and social media – all designed to get you going, to push you to be a better version of yourself.
The Urban Dictionary is a fascinating search site for the meaning of words, and motivation is no exception. From close to real “That thing in the back of your mind that drives you, no matter what seems to be stacked against you”…to close to absurd “Another term for marijuana. e.g. You got some motivation?” I struggle to define what motivates me as an athlete. I have an academic definition all memorized, perfectly phrased and ready to print after reading too many theoretical explanations. But that is for academic purposes, not personal. All I know is that I am motivated – in fact driven – by the continuous urge to be better, to beat myself, and to always chase that finish line.
Drive is our “innate, biologically determined urge to attain a goal or satisfy a need”. As a species, humans have this inherent need to improve, evolve into something more. This propulsion to improve is clear everywhere we look (think man make fire to putting a man on the moon) and it is the same for athletes. We are constantly trying to better our performance with training programs, diets, and equipment. Faster bikes, lighter shoes, the list is infinite. This is all fine and dandy, but the drive we have sometimes gets pushed aside when life takes over. Job pressures, calendar clashes, family responsibilities and sometimes even illness or worse. All or even one of these factors can derail even the most dedicated athlete, suppressing that natural instinct to improve and move forward. It makes us lose sight of the goal, pushes us back a few steps down the ladder and often results in inertia. To get back up and on track again, we need a little motivation. Something that ignites the drive in you and that gets the spirit going again.
The great thing about motivation is that it is unique and personal to each person. It comes in all shapes, sizes, people and feelings. It can be in that feeling when you break the mental and physical barrier that kept you from maintaining a pace, the look of determination in a struggling athlete’s eye. Motivation is the example you set for you children to teach them that they can do anything they want to. The quote you pasted on your bike, so every time you look down and think about giving up, it glares at you and fuels you to keep on. It can be the tattoo you wear with pride to remind you of how far you have come.
The trick to keep on keeping on is to dig deep and find what motivates you, what keeps you driven to be better and, once discovered, to relentlessly focus on your WHY I TRI!. When life happens, you will have something to remind you of what makes your journey worthwhile. You can have the coach, the best gear and a world-class programme, but what drives you to chase the finish line? That is up to you to define!