Part 1: Motivation

This is the first part of a series of blog posts that I intend to publish in the foreseeable future. The purpose of my writing is to share with you my thinking around various topics, mainly about training and CrossFit more specifically. All views are my own and should be taken with a pinch of salt.
I’m fully aware, we are all individuals and there are no absolutes or one-size-fits-all solutions. Also, I don’t claim to possess ”the mind of a ninja” myself, unfortunately. My goal is to introduce a few concepts and ways of thinking that I personally hold high in value. If this should help even one reader (assuming someone actually reads this twaddle) I have succeeded in my mission.

At the time of writing, we are getting close to turn of the year and setting our sights firmly to the next year. For many of us, this is also the time for New Year’s resolutions. As much as it sounds a cliche, there is an onslaught of new gym members every January. Come February or March and most of those enthusiastic newcomers have all but disappeared. Why? Did they all get injured? An unforeseen change in their lives? Probably it has to do with something completely different. Lack of motivation.

Motivation is a curious thing. It comes and goes, ebbs and flows. There seems to be an endless amount of factors affecting it. Like whack-a-mole or hydra, for everyone resolved motivational issue two new hurdles appear.
Moreover, motivation seems to be impossible to fully harness at any level. Even the top athletes across all sports and disciplines are struggling with motivational issues every now and then. So the level of motivation is not a constant but it fluctuates continuously. Knowing this is actually very reassuring; It’s totally fine not to feel fully motivated every day!

But there is a catch.
How can we make sure that our motivation does not hit such a low level that we give up training for good and join the ranks of so many aforementioned New Year’s resolutionists? We need a safety mechanism. Something that keeps us in the game and away from the living room sofa.

For me personally, the failsafe mechanism is trusting the process. Plain and simple. Just showing up, attending classes and doing the work I’m given (I will touch this issue more broadly in my next piece about training in general). If I feel down about my recent progress or my abilities as a whole, I try to brush those feelings aside and check the WOD for tomorrow or next week and focus on that. There’s always the next WOD. Always.
Trusting the process is super easy. It requires only one thing. You just need to come through the gym doors on a regular basis. Nothing else. However, if you choose to stay on the sofa instead, you are in drastic violation with this principle.

So find a number of workouts you -on average- will do on a weekly basis and stick with it. That is your safety mechanism. Then you can accept the flickering nature of motivation. My personal target is five workouts per week, with four being the absolute minimum.

One particular motivational pitfall requires special attention and that is peer pressure. We come home from the class and check Wodconnect only to find being the sole person not to PR today. Or we rummage through all scores from past two weeks and see that every person from our Foundations course is now ”better” than we are. Motivation hits rock bottom. Screw this! I didn’t like CrossFit anyway.

But let’s turn this upside down for a second. What if no-one got any better, never PR’d or learned a new skill? Would that make us happy? It shouldn’t and it would make the coaches very, very upset.
If people around us are improving, it is a strong positive signal that coaching and programming are doing their job. We just need to be patient and trust the process. Our time to shine is just around the corner. If we put in the hard work that is.

So rather than be envious, we should embrace the success of our fellow athletes. Always hang around with people who are better than you if you want to improve and not to impress. The choice is yours.

But what if we cannot train 100 percent? If we are injured then what? Unfortunately, injuries are almost unavoidable. Train for long enough time and the cumulative probability of something happening goes up significantly. That’s just the way it is.
When we are injured our overall performance is subdued and that can impact our motivation. The way to go around this is to treat the injury as permission to specialize. For example, if we have a lower-body injury, we can work on any upper body strength deficiencies we might have. We can use the restrictions the injury imposes on us to work for our benefit. Getting injured is never fun, but should something bad happen let’s spend time and attack those weaknesses head on!

The old adage goes something like this: Motivation gets you started. Habit keeps you going. I’m a strong believer in the power of habit. When something becomes a habit it’s almost like on autopilot. You do it without thinking about it and don’t need to be motivated at all.

It would be awesome to end this blog about motivation with something to help to build a solid habit around training. Some concrete piece of advice without having to resort to copying empty motivational quotes from the internet. Which I most certainly won’t do.
We have already covered trusting the process and completing an average number of workouts per week. To me, that’s a great start and gets you a long way. Next step is integrating training to your individual lifestyle; daily routines, work and family life, nutrition, sleep etc. But that is a topic for another blog post.