These 5 Practices Will Help You Be a Successful Athlete

A long-time triathlete and runner shares her solutions to the question, "How do you stay motivated?"

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It’s not easy–but as the saying goes, If it were easy, everyone could do it. After competing in running, duathlon and triathlon competitions for the last 17 years, there is one question I hear a lot: “How do you stay motivated?” The answer is not a simple one; even so, I want to share the little things I do every single day to stay in the game.

Make Excuses

It’s the opposite of what you’re thinking. Most people make excuses to not fit their training in, or they wait until the end of the day and try to squeeze it in when they’re hungry, tired and household or kid obligations are calling.

I make an excuse every single day to get my workout done. If I know it’s a busy day, I wake up at 5 a.m. and get on my bike or lift weights in my basement. I ask for help and have someone (anyone!) come over to watch my kids so I can get out of the house to run or swim. I take advantage of child care at the gym and use my time when my kids are in school very wisely.

Whatever the day brings, make an excuse to get your workouts done.

Don’t Give 110 Percent

There is no such thing as 110 percent–and even a 100-percent effort changes with the day. Sometimes I’m tired from the day before or I’m dehydrated or stressed about any number of things. On those days, my workout suffers. As long as I’m doing the best I can in that moment and on that day, I’m satisfied.

Don’t expect to give more than you have on any given day. Aim to do your best and then move on.

Be Ignorant

I’m over 40, I’m not a strong swimmer and I have some anxiety issues. Most of the time I choose to ignore all of my weaknesses and silence the voice inside my head that says my times are slower, my stroke needs improvement and I will never hit the paces I’m aiming for.

Forget the noise and what science says you may or may not be able to do. Set big goals and try like hell to achieve them, regardless of what others may say is possible. What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve!

Work On Strengths

I used to spend a lot of time working on my weaknesses, since it seemed like the thing to do to become a better athlete. However, I found that the key to success was a little more complicated. You should absolutely work on your weaknesses, but recognize that there are limits to how much better you can get after a certain point. That being said, your strengths have the distinct advantage of making you already feel invincible, which automatically engages your mental game and leads us to my fifth tip.

Go Mental

Never underestimate the power of your mind and body connection. What you tell yourself in training and on race day is what your body will believe. So many races come down to mental toughness–and if you’re not training your brain along with your body, you should start now.

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