Why is it that some tasks seem desirable and worthy, whilst others seem a chore? How come the thought of threshold pieces on the water can be met with a determined attitude and excitement one day, but the next a lacklustre approach to the same session?
These alterations in our behavioural drive, towards writing that thesis or attending training, are down to motivation - defined as the desire or willingness to do something. Motivation can be further categorised as intrinsic: engaging in an activity for internal pleasure, or extrinsic: to participate for external rewards or gain.
Whilst an initial passion for the sport is essential to get hooked. Later on, when faced with numerous early starts and cold mornings, other motivational aspirations are required. Intrinsic motivation can be seen as necessary, but not sufficient for success.
"be aware of why you’re doing it to get through the daily training grind"
With the racing calendar looking fairly bleak for the remainder of the year, and any chance of external gratification in the form of podium places looking unlikely, athletes must look for alternative sources of motivation.
Re-connecting with why one initially decided to pick up that blade can help us stay on track, with research suggesting a sense of enjoyment or intrinsic factors motivates athletes for longer periods of time. Instead of focusing on reaching that Henley final, reflect on just how far you, as an individual, have progressed. Take fulfilment in having become fitter, stronger and more skilful compared to the person who attended their first session, which probably ended with a swim.
By understanding their athletes, coaches can recognise how to push individuals to achieve their full potential. Those that have a fire burning inside will lay everything on the line each race due to their pure passion for the sport. Alternatively, by focusing on medals and the prestige of winning they can help engage those extrinsically motivated to give it their all.
So, whether you’re racking up the miles to get that shiny medal or because you simply enjoy the motions day in day out, it’s important to be aware of why you’re doing it to get through the daily training grind.