Where has my motivation gone?

What do you do when the event you have been training for gets cancelled?  You have worked towards this event for the best part of 12 months and then for reasons outside of your control, it’s cancelled.

This has been the scenario for everyone that was scheduled to do Ironman New Zealand recently.  COVID and its flow on effects meant the 2022 edition of Ironman New Zealand was unfortunately cancelled.  Now in the scheme of current World events it’s not a big deal.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t be disappointed and even feel sorry for yourself.  With such a big goal driving you most training sessions it’s easy to be motivated.  But what do we do when that big goal is taken away? And with it goes our motivation.

Working with the athletes within the World Multisport group it is has been interesting to see how they have all dealt with it in different ways.  Some have kept going with training and continued their preparation focusing on other events such as road running events or Ironman Cairns in June.

Others have kept training for a little while but then realised they needed a break. Some have been able to reset and focus on the new date Ironman New Zealand date in December.  Regardless of the approach of each person, everyone did suffer a loss of motivation to some degree.

What does this mean?  Is it normal? Will my motivation return? Should I rest?  Should I keep training?

To answer these questions, we need to firstly understand that motivation is a limited behaviour that relies on emotion.  We feel motivated when we first decide on something we want to do such as doing your first triathlon or training for an Ironman.

Or the classic of losing weight or going to the gym. How many times do you say something like that to yourself only to find within a few days you stop?  Why because the motivation has stopped.  In my experience even the most driven people can only be ‘motivated’ for 8-12 weeks.

For some motivation only lasts a few days or even a few hours.  What doesn’t stop though are good habits and routines.

Therefore, when something like an Ironman event is cancelled here are my top 3 tips to stay on track and deal with things outside of your control:

  1. Give yourself no longer than 48 hours to feel sorry for yourself. It’s outside of your control and normal to feel annoyed, frustrated, and disappointed. Once the 48 hours is over accept the situation and move on.  Pity party is over!
  2. Accept everyone will react differently to what’s happened, and you need to work out what is best for you. Don’t compare yourself to others in a similar situation and do what it is right for you.  Maybe it’s a break, maybe it’s to keep training at a lesser level or maybe focus on a new event.  Take a few days to think about it and make a logical decision not based on emotion or comparison.
  3. Get back into a good routine as soon as practical. Training should be part of your life all the time.  Good habits and routines are the cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle and don’t rely on motivation.  Have a break if you need one but don’t take too long a break that the good habits you have formed are lost.

About Mark

Mark is one of Australia's most experienced and knowledgeable triathlon coaches. With over 25 years experience coaching at all levels from kids, youth, adult and elite professional athletes across the World. He loves seeing people change their lives through triathlon.

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