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Why am I doing this; again?

All athletes train for various reasons. These reasons are what keep us going. It is important to regularly examine your motives and ambitions and to keep them close to you. Without an internal purpose to our training we are like old plow mules; slogging along because we always have. Without a purpose your enthusiasm to train and compete will eventually fade.

The first thing you must realize is that your motivations are unique and personal. You may train for social reasons, but not because your friend is making you. You may enjoy the support of your parents, but can not compete for them. This is one of the reasons children who are pushed too hard by the imposed ambitions of overzealous parents often lose interest in a sport. The child has lost the internal motivation to participate (fun) and generally does not stay involved long term. Make sure reasons you train are your reasons.

Secondly, define your reason. Be specific and write them down. Visualize the payoff of your training. If one of your reasons is fitness, visualize yourself as the fit and hardened individual you will become. Perhaps you have a specific personal goal in mind. Constantly remind yourself what that goal is, and how the work out you are performing now will get you there.

There are so many positive aspects to being an athlete beyond the physical benefits. I personally believe the characteristics of a successful athlete transfer to many areas of life outside the competitive arena. Characteristics such as discipline, overcoming adversity,

risk taking, personal sacrifice, sportsmanship, consistency, and hard work reinforce good character. These reasons may not be as concrete as winning a race, but I believe they will carry you farther.

If you are training mainly for the joy of competing, you may wake up one morning and realize that it is no longer fun for you. If that is the case, it is time to move on to something else, perhaps another sport, something new and interesting. This change in motivation is natural, and is not a result of deficient character, it is part of life.

Endurance athletes are unique animals. The training takes more hours than most sports, and is usually solitary. Successful training for endurance sports requires you to train through all seasons, terrible weather, and early mornings when you would rather be in bed. Even the pros make little money relative to other sports, and receive little recognition beyond the endurance sport community. If fame, fortune, and adoration are your motivators you are in the wrong sport. Endurance sports arguably require greater fortitude and discipline. Know what the payoff is for your efforts, and you will be a more motivated, successful, and happy athlete.

About the Author
Matt Russ has coached and trained athletes around the country and internationally. He currently holds licenses by USAT, USATF, and is an Expert level USAC coach. Matt has coached athletes for CTS (Carmichael Training Systems), is an Ultrafit Associate. Visit for more information.

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