cold rain workout motivation

Lacking Workout Motivation? Here Are 4 Ways To Get Going

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Sometimes the fire inside an athlete starts to dim and needs a bit of fuel to start roaring again.

If you’re having trouble getting out of a warm bed to train on a cold morning, keep reading.

If the earlier sunsets are stealing your motivation to train after work, I think I can help.

If next season’s goals seem so far off you just can’t work up the enthusiasm to train for them yet, this article might help.

Lagging motivation is normal at this time of year. As we get into November the days get colder and darker in the Northern Hemisphere. With fresh memories of warm rides and still-fading tan lines, athletes who will have no problem training outdoors in January are struggling to train in far more moderate cold now.

Several of my coaches and I have been talking with athletes about motivation and inspiration over the past week, so here are four prompts to help you get off your butt and out the door.

“Sean Kelly would ride today.”

When I was a young rider in Europe, Irish cycling legend (he was already a legend back then…) Sean Kelly invited some teammates and me out for a long ride on a cold and rainy Wednesday prior to the Milan-San Remo race. I really wasn’t sure I wanted to go, but Sean’s take on the weather was simple: Let’s just go and we’ll decide if the weather is too bad to go out once we get back.

Huh, what?!

Before I had time to make any sense of what he said, we were out the door. For the next six hours I hung on to his wheel, cold and wet, barely saying a word. When we got back I was so worked I was sure I had just ruined my chances for a good ride at Milan-San Remo. Instead, I felt great on race day and even made it to the summit of the Poggio (the decisive final climb) in the lead group! I flatted on the descent, but ever since that week I have remembered Sean’s nonsensical logic whenever I didn’t want to go out in bad weather.

Your touchstone doesn’t need to be Sean Kelly, but find an inspirational figure you know would get off his or her butt to train today, no matter the conditions. If they can do it, you can do it. If it’s important enough for them, it’s important enough for you. If it’s how they win, it’s how you’ll win.

“If it’s too hard for everyone else, it’s just right for me.”

Looking to others for inspiration doesn’t work for some people. Instead, some athletes are motivated by doing what others won’t do.

No one likes riding in the rain or rolling out of the garage into a strong headwind. And there are a ton of athletes who look out the window and find an excuse to stay in.

When you wake up to the sound of rain on the windowsill or the wind whistling through the trees, you have to see it as an opportunity to be seized. Those aren’t bad days; they are the days that make the difference.

Be willing to do what’s hard, because most people aren’t.

“The only workouts you will regret are the ones you don’t do.”

We all face times when it’s hard to leave a warm bed or add one more task to the end of a long day, but just remember the only difficult step is the first one. All you have to do is start. You’re not a quitter, so once you start the rest will flow from there.

If you are struggling to take that first step, try lowering or eliminating barriers. Move your alarm clock so you can’t reach it from the bed. Put your workout clothes out so you don’t have to look for them, or keep a ‘go bag’ packed with your training clothes/gear. If you’re training indoors, keep your training area set up so you can just hop on and start riding. If you’re training outdoors, make appointments to meet your buddies so you are accountable to each other.

“There will always be more work. There will not always be another ride.”

When I talk with athletes who lament their lack of time on the bike, I remind them of something that took me a long time to realize for myself. Whether you work for someone else or work for yourself, there will always be more work to do. There are times when you legitimately have to make work your first priority, but if we’re being honest, we have probably all put work first more often than was really necessary.

Go for the ride. Take the run. Go to your kid’s soccer game. Take your spouse to lunch on a workday. Use your vacation days! There will always be more work to do. There will not always be another ride, another soccer game to go to, or another perfect lunch date.

Most of all, be kind to yourself. No one has endless energy or bulletproof motivation. You are going to struggle to get moving some days. Tools like the ones above can help you get through those days and stay on track, instead of letting that low energy persist and drag you down.

Chris Carmichael
CEO/Head Coach of CTS


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Comments 3

  1. Have an early season event like the Assault on the Carolinas on April 6th starting and ending in Brevard is motivation for me (65 miles/3800′ including climb up Casear’s Head)…to get outside and ride when possible.

  2. Great article. When I was more into competitive events, I used to tell myself, yeah most other people won’t be training today, but “they” will (ie. that person you’ll try to beat out of the water, or catch going up the long climb, or that person 10 feet ahead of you at the finish line).

  3. Good advice. I’m reminded of something I once read… “No one ever lay on their death bed and thought ‘I wish I’d spent more time at the office’.”

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