How to Stay Motivated as an Athlete and a Competitor

By Elisabeth Clay 

One thing I get asked about a lot is how I stay so motivated. Not only with my sport, but with everything. How do I always go and lift? How do I have the motivation to train 5-7 days a week? How did I stay motivated to finish high school two years early? How do I have the motivation to train even after lots of traveling and sleep deprivation?  

Wanna Know My Secret?

I’m not

A majority of the time, I am not motivated. I often don’t want to train because I’m tired or hungry, etc. Motivation comes and goes, so if you wait for motivation you will never be exceptional in anything you want to beIn order to be exceptional or excel, you need consistency. This takes disciplineand that is what I have. I am disciplined in that if I plan it, it happens whether I feel like it or not. 

Dealing with Motivation “Gaps”

There are times (sometimes for months even) when, for the most part, I don’t want to train. I don’t want to go in Monday to train after I just got in the night before from traveling hours and hours, BUT I do it. If I set it in the training schedule (even if only in my mind), I get up, get ready and go lift or do whatever is on the schedule. I don’t wanna lift sometimes because I’m tired after training, but I do. I think we need to stop thinking that people who achieve greatness in anything are these insanely motivated people. It isn’t the motivation; it’s the discipline. The saying goes I’m going to do this so I do, it doesn’t matter whether I want to or notAfterwards, of course, I am very happy I did whatever piece of the training. I feel a sense of pride and accomplishment, and I know it means I am one step closer to landing the goal I started. I am happy and encouraged that I went through with it  

But there is a reason it is called a grind. You go, you do, you grind. You push through when all you want to do is something else. And this is accomplished through discipline. Discipline is the most important factor in achieving anything in this world, and not just for the athlete, but the acclaimed student and accomplished business man as well. They often work long, hard hours when they would rather be done and relaxing.   

Feed Your Discipline

I have learned to love and feed my discipline by accomplishing the small things in training and competing. It is the feeling of “sweet”, when I made the session I could hardly drag myself into, or the gratification of making the weight check after a cut down, or seeing the change in muscle definition after lifting sessions. I take pictures to see and to encourage myself to continue pushing. Pictures for me are an inspiration to keep at that grind.  

I need to add these disclaimers: if you find yourself truly hurt you may need to change a training session to a physician visit or therapy of some sort, but if you give up training time make sure what you are putting in there is something needed; make sure it’s not wasted time.  

Make Sure to Rest

Additionally, schedule in down time, family time, partner time and REST. Just make sure it does not take away from the grind but add to it. By that I mean you need it to come back stronger and better. Schedule these off training activities at times when you have the least productive training. One of the things that breaks my heart is seeing is people schedule their significant other time when it is a great training session and “monsters” are coming to train, but instead it is date night. I am not saying do not have that date. On the contrary, it is vital to keeping a solid, healthy relationship through all the crazy hours. BUT, pick a less good session to miss. Or go after or before… this life is not for everyone. It is not what fulfills everyone.   

Remember that what works to keep me disciplined may not work for you, but this is how I do it; its what works for me. I hope you truly find what makes you happy and fulfills you. We are each different with different needs in this life. Find what makes you happiest and live that life. Do not look at others and think that what they have is better. We each have struggles and triumphs. Live and love life! Become your lion or lioness… 

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