I really wanted to do a HIM this year but I wasn't sure if my body could handle it or I would have time to do the training. So I told myself and hubby that I would start the 16 week plan and "see how it goes". It actually went better than I thought it would. I started going to a masters swim class as often as I am able to go and these sessions are way more "mileage" than my plan but I have felt strong. Not fast but strong.
I am currently on week eight and I have lost motivation. I have been looking ahead and wondering when I am going to have time to get my long rides and runs in. The next few weekends are going to be busy and as the summer goes farther, it isn't going to get better. I know these are excuses but how do I stay motivated?
Motivation loss during training is pretty common. One way to keep yourself motivated is to remember why you decided to take on this big goal. Also set reminders for you around your house – on the kitchen door, on the mirror in the bedroom or on your pillow so you see it before you go to sleep.
Training partners are also a good way to keep motivation going strong. Knowing there are people waiting for you to show up will certainly help you get out the door each day. When that someone else is depending on you to show up, chances are you’ll be there, for them and secondly for yourself.
Stay in the right heart-rate zone
One part of training that’s key is making sure you are going at the right efforts in training. Keeping the majority of your training to Zone 2 Heart Rate, will help ensure that you are keeping the training at an easy enough level to help you get out the door the next day. One of the biggest reasons people don’t train day after day is because they are tired. But they are usually tired from going too hard. I like to think that if you can keep the training reasonable, in terms of effort, you’ll be more successful in getting out the door more frequently and this will lead to less burnout syndrome. One of the most important aspects of training that I apply to beginner age groupers, to elite age groupers, to pro’s that I coach is the concept of hard day, easy day. Every athlete, at every level needs a break from training either in a recovery-type day or a complete day off. The recovery days help stimulate improvement from the hard days. Training super hard and resting for days on end will only get you so far, but I’m a strong believer in easy long swims, and easy bike rides on recovery days. You can’t go wrong with either of those.
To follow up on the point of the rest day, in my opinion, you should take rest days. These will leave you rejuvenated each week and allow you to look forward to your ‘rest’ days. These are important as well – as your body needs a break from the training, as well as your mind does too.
Even when you are training at the right intensity, every couple of weeks, your body will need a ‘rest’ or ‘recovery’ week. For example if your training plan looks like the following:
Swims: 3x per week for 3 hours
Bikes: 4x a week for 5-6 hours
Runs: 3-4x per week for 3-4 hours
Keep the frequency consistent
That totals to about 10-12 hours per week and on the easier weeks I would cut back the volume by around 25%, down to eight hours. This will allow you to get less training in, giving your body a rest, but keep in mind, you still want to do keep the frequency the same. Your body will adapt better to training if you keep the number of times you train each week consistent. Going from two runs a week to four and then to one, back to three in consecutive weeks isn’t going to help you get better. There’s actually a greater chance that you’ll end up unmotivated, inured, and close to burn out. We want you to avoid that at all costs.
One last idea to get you through a hard training block is treating yourself to something special and this can also be beneficial. If you had something to look forward to each Sunday afternoon, once your weekly workouts were complete, my guess is that you’d be very motivated to get there, knowing you did your workouts as scheduled and take on your special treat without guilt. This can be a yummy meal, a massage, movie night etc. Everyone is different, but whatever motivates you, put it on your fridge to get you out the door each week.
I hope this helps you understand that motivation has its ups and downs for everyone. You can overcome it with a few mental tricks to get yourself out the door, joining training partners for workouts and knowing that if you hit the right intensities while you include rest days and recovery weeks that you will be stronger. Once you do this, you’ll be much more likely to achieve the goal of the Half Ironman! Good luck and let us know how you do!
Best Regards, Mike Ricci
Mike Ricci, USAT Coach of the Year, is the owner and founder of the D3 Multisport coaching group, through which he coaches all levels of athletes from beginner to elite. Mike is also the former head coach of the 2013 National Champion CU Triathlon Team, and guided them to 4 consecutive collegiate National Championship titles from 2010-2013. Mike has written training plans for Team USA several times, is a USAT Level III Elite coach, and has helped many athletes to qualify for the Ironman World Championships in Kona. Learn more about D3 and Mike.