Motivation when it’s needed


When winter arrives it heralds a fresh start and a new beginning for many cyclists. November and December see the appearance of all shapes of Lycra clad creatures who have been hibernating since a disappointment in May or June, back on the bike and rearing for road.

Christmas holidays double down on the morale. Making room for the turkey (and a few dozen chocolate roses) add impetuous with the catchphrase ‘I must get a few extra spins in to burn off a few calories before I put ’em all back on again’. Fellow club mates on holidays from work mean a never ending stream of accomplices for two weeks whenever you want to go for a training spin. A pro team wouldn’t have anything to match the club cyclists Christmas training camp. Add in the Strava ‘festive 500’ and you’ll need a new set of tyres after the two weeks of Christmas.

January 1st follows on quickly and New Years resolutions propel almost every cyclist through the first two weeks of the month. The first wobble arrives in week three of the New Year. A wet Sunday accompanied by a half hearted ‘sure I need a rest day after all I’ve done’ is the launchpad for a slippery slope.

A bit of ice in week four is accompanied by a turbo session being skipped for fear of slipping on the icy footpath on the way out to the shed 10 feet from the back door.

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By mid February all resolutions are forgotten. If a racing license has been paid for training continues. If a Marmotte or Etape entry has been booked, training continues. If no firm goal remains, nine months of half hearted, half arsed training lies ahead before a clean slate arrives again on November first, and it’s full steam ahead once more.

The other form of motivation sapping liquid falling from the sky so I can’t go training excuse, is bad weather. It’s never your body that stops you going out training in bad weather, it’s always your head. So what can you do to fight your own mental obstacles, lack of motivation or just plain old laziness ?

The answer is to change the position from which you see going training on your bike from.

Last night, I sat and watched a documentary film about Mark Pollock called ‘Unbreakable’. A guy who lost his sight in one eye aged 5, and then lost the sight of his other eye just as he graduated from college. An accomplished rower before loosing his sight, he did not choose to give up. He reset his goals and became the first blind person to hike to the South Pole during an 800 mile race.

He fell in love, got engaged and then before he could get married fell from a window and became paralysed. Blind and in a wheelchair, he dealt with his frustration and refocused once more. He is now a pioneer in finding a way for people who cannot walk to walk again. He is hugely inspirational and as I sat watching his struggles, his incredible hardships and his uplifting attitude I was struck by a number of thoughts.

What would Mark Pollock do if he was cured in the morning and found himself able to go cycle a bike? Would he let a few drops of water from the sky stop him? Would he laugh at the thought of someone else using a bit of bad weather as an excuse for not using their fully functioning bodies in a way that he could only dream of?

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I have a friend who is blind and it was when he lost his sight in his twenties that his life really began. Just as seemed to be the case with Mark Pollock he gained an awareness of the fragility of life and developed a desire to do all that he could with all that he had left and has had an incredible life ever since.

We all take for granted the simple things in life. Getting out of bed and looking out the window to check the weather each morning. Walking down the stairs. Using both of our hands to cook breakfast. Putting on our gear and going for a cycle. Sometimes it’s good to be reminded of just how lucky we are with whatever abilities we have.

Perhaps the way to get over those humps when motivation dips is to take 30 seconds to close your eyes and imagine being blind or sit in a chair and imagine not being able to get up and walk. If you can make yourself imagine the realities of either situation, or the reality of both, which is the case for Mark Pollock, the lack of motivation to go ride your bike will no longer be an issue.

Finally here is a simple tip that I often practice :

If you are unsure if you really want or need to go training, put on your gear before you make your decision, because it’s never a question of can you, but Will You?


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