Why Do You Train?

We all love to suffer on some level! Whether we are out on a weekend ride with friends, on a commute to work, doing an indoor training session, completing a challenge or whatever else it may be. A few weeks ago, Coach Suzie wrote a great piece about goal setting and the importance of defining them. Here, I want to discuss the motivation behind goals and how the mind and body are affected.

Everyone lives a busy life full of different responsibilities and pressures so having exercise can help a lot. Temporary escapism from the day to day routine not only helps to physically release endorphins but also allows you to break away mentally and enjoy a change of scenery which in turn will allow you to come back refreshed and with an altered perspective. Personally, this has become a key element in my day and something I look forward to when I need some ‘me’ time. It does not always mean performing to the best of my ability but simply going out and enjoying a ride.

Training isn’t always enjoyable and finding the motivation and drive to train regularly doesn’t come easily to everyone. I’m sure we’ve all had a moment when you know you are going to have to push yourself outside your comfort zone to get through a fitness test or a particularly heavy training block in order to improve. But remembering the overall goal and the reasons why you want to achieve new heights are what push me to carry on.

Fitness:
We all know the drill here but fitness has different components such as cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength and muscular endurance. Naturally, just like your 4DP rider type, you will be predisposed to some aspects more than others. Depending on the workout you complete, you will be working towards different outcomes. This is important to remember when it comes to a balanced training plan to make sure you allow enough time for your body to recover on certain aspects while you focus on others. Doing a sprint session one day will draw on your anaerobic energy system and recruit your slow and fast-twitch muscle fibres due to the high intensity of the workout. While the next day you may experience some muscular fatigue, going out on a steady ride will use your aerobic energy system and only require your slow-twitch muscle fibres due to the lower intensity, allowing your fast-twitch muscle fibres to recover.

Escapism:
Exercise is a great form of escapism both for your mind as well as your body. Simply taking some time out of your day to focus on the workout at hand no matter how challenging gives your mind a welcome distraction and some time to process your thoughts (just like your muscles recover best while you sleep). Often on return, you will get a new perspective on what was an issue in another aspect of your life but now you can breeze right through feeling refreshed.

Released Endorphins:
We all know exercise elevates your heart rate and puts an increased strain on the muscles. But there are a lot more effects happening on the inside of the body particularly in the endocrine system. The release of endorphins contributes to reducing your stress and anxiety levels, boosting your self-esteem and giving you a natural high contributing to an improved mental state.

Improved sleep:
Depending on your work, a long day in the office can be tiring mentally but not always physically. Cardiovascular exercising, in particular, adds that extra element of fatigue post-workout which can help send you off to get those much needed 8 hours of sleep and recovery.

Making sure you are able to establish a regular routine is important and this is where process goals kick in and you need to dig that bit deeper to just keep going through the motions.

These, in turn, help you towards your performance goals and all this time, in the back of your mind, you can think about your outcome goals. Using mental imagery during training sessions really helps me stay motivated through thick and thin- if you haven’t done this before checkout “The Bat”.

We all have our reasons for getting on the bike and putting ourselves through suffering, whether it is on your trainer, out on the open road or maybe even in another discipline. But the key is that long term we all keep going. Training isn’t always enjoyable, but always make sure that you have more good days than bad days.

Why do you train and what are the key benefits that keep you going when things get tough?

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Thank you, @Coach.Rupert.H. I really enjoyed reading this article.

Absolutely true words.

I am always differentiating between motivation and discipline.
It’s easy to be motivated to do any activity because of outside stimulants:
Maybe the impulse comes from a great movie we have seen, a coworker that tells us how amazing something is, or a wedding we want to attend and be our best self - these things motivate us.
Motivation is fleeting.
But to stay with a plan, to grind through the work even on hard days and when we don’t feel like it, that’s discipline, to me.

My mantra on a hard day is always the same: “I’m not motivated today. But I have the discipline to do it anyway.”

Why do I have the discipline to train? Ego, I guess, would be my answer.
I want to be the best self I can be. To feel strong and like I can do almost anything. For myself, and as a role model for my kids. Sticking to a plan, having a goal and to follow it. That’s something I want to prove to myself and my family.

Maybe it’s a mix out of Released Endorphins and Fitness.

When things get tough my natural competitiveness shines. I have no problem lighting a fire under my own butt just for “some bigger numbers” or a race against myself.

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Nice mantra.

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Thanks Rupert. Some great words there.
I find the “Remembering Why” bit in the Mental Toughness Plan interesting too as introspection.
I have a few reasons I think.
A bit like @P.Weikamp - there is certainly some ego involved. I enjoy the feeling of doing well in a race or event. I like when others congratulate me or say I am getting faster. Sounds a bit shallow - but I feel the same about positive feedback about intelligence, or being nice, or whatever. It just feels good (for me) to get positive feedback. :slight_smile:
I also want to stay fit for my kids. I have a 5yo and a 1.5yo, and given that I’m 46, I’m not exactly a young dad! Being able to play chasey, or wrestles, or climbing, or bike riding with them as I get older is important to me.
Then there’s the internal feeling of just wanting to push those numbers. Just what can I do if I keep training? Can I get fitter? Can I actually get to 5w/kg FTP even at my age?

Oh yes, I understand this one. I will push myself into needing the SUF bucket some days. This bites me in races sometimes where I go into the red too early and then end up a shaking mess half way through (XC marathon races are bad for this).

Chris

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@Coach.Rupert.H. Nice post. It’s a great question - at the moment training gives me much needed escapism as I live through a period of restrictions to keep us all close to home here in Melbourne that includes limiting our outdoor exercise to 1 hour a day within a 5KM radius. The long weekend rides and cafe stop are on hold - good thing it is winter!

In these times Sufferlandria is a one stop travel destination - with a strong community to boot - which is cool in itself!

And Yes I agree that the post ride endorphins, improved sleep, better fitness are definitely benefits but big picture I train because cycling has over the years become a practice that even when I have periods off the bike, it is something I always return too. It acts as a kind of through line that connects right back to when I started cycling, regardless of life changes or country for that matter! Why is cycling so significant and the training that goes along with it? I’m not sure, but when I made the move to this continent limited to two pieces of checked luggage, I didn’t think twice that one of the bags would be my bike!

Great question!

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Hard sessions are so challenging. Make sure you are fed and watered, wearing one of your better bib shorts, drinks ready, towel read, set jaw and steely stare, now lets go out and do this thing. Easier sessions I take much more relaxed, I will pop out and do this, no problem no point backing out of an easy ride, lets get it out of the way and get on with the day
So either the challenge or the carrot helps me get out without hardly ever missing a session. During this hot weather I have missed some yoga, it is a case of sitting in a warm sweat and seeing it through , rather than getting on with something to make it worse (hotter)

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Thanks @P.Weikamp, that is a great ethos to have!!
And those points about motivation and discipline ring true too, that is what helps wih keeping your training consistent whether you have that goal just a few weeks away or if you are in a ‘maintenance’ stretch

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I don’t, I’m in Sufferlandria purely for the leisure. And the numbers, apparently I like playing with numbers :nerd_face:. If anybody suggests that I’m also here for the letters then they’re wrong :wink:

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That is great to hear you enjoy the mental toughness program @ChrisMTB!
And I know what you mean about getting people around you saying well done. I always find telling a few people around you what you are training towards helps with accountability too as the goal feels more ‘real’ if you tell other people and they will ask about your progress or how it went next time they see you.

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Thanks @DancingCyclist, thats why we love Sufferlandria and you can never leave :wink:

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@Coach.Rupert.H I train in part for escapism and the mental health benefit but more for the physical health. I decided after my father had a heart attack nearly 30 years ago that “that’s not going to be me.” My mom would say ‘Heart disease runs in the family” when all that runs in the family is poor diet choices and a sedentary life style. I am in the best fitness of my life the last few years. Mom came around in her 60s and started regular cardio. She just turned 90 and still drives grand kids around. Some good genes in our family; if we take care of them.

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I love this @Rick66! Keep it going everybody :biking_man: :bike:

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Nice read! for me it’s a mix between escapism and willingness to stay fit and in good health.
I love Sufferfest, since cycling for me is individual, trying to be a “better me”, i love being able to view my “numbers”, but they’re for me just indicators, of course i want to do better and keep imrpoving but they’re for me not the purpose, just a tool. This been said whilst i enjoy group rides, i enjoy more discovering on my own, pushing myself and this has been so far the only true way for me to clear my head, forget my daily tribulations and recollect myself. And Sufferfest has brought me a structure (through the plans) and (when not watching my stem) the videos keep me entertained, and so I can keep pushing, lately the addition of yoga and strength have rounded it up. nowadays my challenge is to find time since i have a 2yr old boy and a soon to arrive baby. so i hope i can keep alocating time to riding my bike. To close on a funny note, i notice my music taste has changed since i joined Sufferfest few years back! :slight_smile:

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Thanks @JC2020 and everyone else who has shared what inspires them and keeps them motivated.

If you need some motivation, check out the Success Stories category or even better, share your story with the wider Sufferlandrian community to motivate your fellow riders.

“Success is contagious… share your story, you never know who may find it inspiring!”

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I’m just here for the decals and badges! Thankfully that requires suffering!

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For the suffering :grin:
Investment in future health
Headspace

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Initially I signed up to improve my cycling but as others have mentioned in the current climate it provides that opportunity for escapism/mindfulness when you can just spend some time focusing on the numbers (or your stem) and forget about everything else.

It has really helped me cope over the past couple of months and miss the time on rest days !

Hopefully I can find the time post-Covid to keep it in my schedule for the benefit of my fitness both physical & mental :slightly_smiling_face:

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I train because I want to get better, stronger and fitter, to challenge for those times on climbs and (post-covid :crossed_fingers:t2:) start racing more. On the flip side, my slight obsession with improving my numbers always make me think I’m not quite good enough - I guess it’s a case of trying to get to the destination, and not enjoying the journey - and so when I hit new numbers I always want that little bit more.

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