The Grind: Finding Motivation to Keep Training
BEEP, BEEP, BEEP…damn 4:45 A.M. came quickly…snooze, roll-over. BEEP, BEEP, BEEP…okay, alarm. You win.
I roll out of bed cursing myself, the cold hardwood floor and the fact that rest of the world is still fast asleep. This is the grind (and I’m not just referencing the sound of my knee joints asking for a day off), but the point in training where I start to lose the motivation to keep moving forward.
Not every workout is magical, in fact, some are just work! Deep in the heart of training I hit autopilot to some degree. Ploughing forward, mindlessly building mileage, time and ultimately fitness. The grind is hard not just because it isn’t fun, but this is the point in training where things start to fall through the cracks and that magical work/life/training balance slips.
Laundry gets half done, housework gets skipped and that weekly happy hour with friends is a distant memory. This is the point where decisions are made that will impact the successes over the remainder of the season.
I once heard a motivational speaker say that the average person only has enough time in a week to be truly devoted to five things at any point, and it is our decision what five things we choose to be good at. His example was that he choose to be a good father, husband, friend, speaker and runner.
As a triathlete in the heart of training, I am forced to choose ⅗ of my roles as a swimmer, biker and runner. As a Type-A, career driven individual, number four for me becomes employee. That leaves enough time for one more thing every week.
One thing? Just one? How do I choose? I am obsessed with my family (yes, I’m that weirdo that speaks to my mom/dad every day and my brother every week); I am extremely fortunate to have a massive group of loving and supportive friends that would move heaven and earth for me (and drive hundreds of miles to cheer me on at races); then what about all of the other things: dating, Netflix and everything else I get so much pleasure out of?
The struggle is real. Everyone is different but my solution to try and keep life in balance is two-fold:
First, I try to find the most efficient way to train possible during the week so that I can devote more time to other areas of my life. My most efficient training partner is my Wahoo KICKR power trainer. Having the KICKR lets me take the most time-consuming element of training (cycling) and do it before work without ever leaving my home. By utilizing TrainerRoad I can do structured workouts that focus on increasing my power output and/or aerobic capacity in a short amount of time. If I need mileage I can get on Zwift and crush as many miles as I need.
Second, I rotate what my fifth focus will be for any particular week. For example, if the week is focused on friends I make plans ahead of time for meals and make sure that my work and workouts are done on time.
Eventually, I make it out of the grind. I find balance, I have a breakthrough or race-day comes and goes. Yes, the grind sucks, but when I am in the middle of it I try to remind myself that I am lucky to be strong enough to have made it this far and every early morning leaves me one day better than the day before.
Use the grind and before you know it you will be at the starting line.