Motivation and Mental Health

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  • #47687

    Hey everybody,

    This is probably a question best answered with “just do it” or “find a target to aim for” which has been my strategy for the past few months but consistency has been a real challenge.

    I have no shortage of goals both long term and short term, with numerous ice/alpine goals in the northeast this winter and even a trip to california planned for the summer, but I just cant find the motivation to train. I bought two training plans at the beginning of quarantine thinking that having paid I would motivate myself to follow through but this wasn’t enough (though very stoked to have those available now!). I keep finding my mental health preventing me from training the way I would like to, with occasional breakthroughs (such as my first 5.10 trad route a few months ago) motivating me to get back into training, but always starting from square one.

    Yesterday I sent my first 5.11c sport route and I can feel the training stoke coming back into view. I’m all to familiar with this fleeting motivation coming and going and training along with it. This time around I want to stick to it. What do those of you struggling with anxiety, depression, and other motivational hinderances do to stay on your game? Thank you!

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    crouch.k on #47703

    Not a coach, but this sounds very familiar! Of course, all of this is very personal, but I have put some thoughts and ideas that have helped me below. Good luck and look after yourself.

    Goals and planned trips are definitely helpful, but in my experience you can have the most amazing trip planned for next summer and be really excited about it, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to motivation for doing that training session today. The more sessions you skip, the worse you feel about it and the harder it becomes to find motivation.

    I use a “show up to the mat” approach – the phrasing comes from my days as a gymnast, but the concept is the same. If I have a workout scheduled and I am motivated to do it, great. If I am not motivated, I’ll tell myself that I need to show up before I can give up. For gymnastics, that meant putting on workout gear and getting my mat and other kit together. For running, getting my running kit and shoes on and going outside. If I do that and I’m still not feeling it, it’s ok not to do the workout. More than 99% of the time, getting that far is half the battle and once I am dressed and ready to go I will just get on and do whatever I had planned to do. If I’m still not feeling it, I’ll take the same approach again and persuade myself to “just run a mile” or “just warm up” before giving up, and that will quite often be enough to get me there.

    The key to this, though, is that there is always occasional day where you do show up and it still feels too much. I’ve certainly had days where I’ve stood on the front porch in my running gear and then gone back into the house to watch Netflix in my pyjamas instead – in those cases it’s ok to give yourself a break and not to beat yourself up about it. For me, knowing that I tried helps with the latter. The important thing is to show up again the next day.

    The other useful thing is to train with other people as often as possible. If someone is expecting to meet you at the climbing gym for a session, you’re much more likely to go than if you don’t feel like it than you are if it’s only yourself you are letting down. Even if you aren’t doing anything that requires a partner, the idea of an “accountability buddy” can be helpful, particularly if you are performing the same service for the other person in return.

    GuillaumeM on #47714

    previous idea is great.
    I will add my experience. I, too, struggled with motivation and being organized.
    Maybe instead of paying a prebuilt plan, you could pay for a coach for a few month, at least to start-up. If someone is following you you can’t hide yourself because the coach will require results 😉
    That’s an option. That’s where I started last year to organize better.
    Then now I use Training Peak on my own and make my plan week after week. I don’t allow myself to listen to that little voice which tells “you can do it later”. Even if the voice is here, I, too, put my shoes on and do the workout I plan.
    Maybe once you are well engaged in a training plan, you won’t give up so easily. But that means you have to follow up for a few weeks and force yourself to get serious into the training.
    And it should be nice to see the results at some point so that you will tell yourself that all of this is worth it.

    Diana on #47737

    Thank you for breaking through the stigma of mental health and bringing forth such an important topic we don’t talk about enough. That is so awesome.

    I don’t have much for advice, but more of an observation. You mentioned your recent 5.10 trad and 511c sport sends (congrats!) brought on temporary motivation. That tells me that you have strong external motivation. You can tap into that by using social apps like Strava for your workouts, where the Kudos from others can externally motivate one to get out the door. Alternatively, you can look into what your internal motivations are (ie: why do I love this sport?) I ponder this question regularly to add fuel to the fire of my motivation and purpose.

    calebgilk on #68443

    I really understand you, lately I can’t find the motivation to take care of my body at all

    Melissa Macdonald on #68445

    I totally get this. I read an article last year or so and it kindof does go along with the “just do it” mentality, but it really helped me put Motivation in perspective (yes, capital M!) We each have a goal, a climb, a race, whatever the case may be. And we have training to do to work towards that. The thing is, I don’t have to be jazzed and happy every time I go out on a training hike. Sometimes I think we turn being “Motivated” into being fist-pumping, “Let’s ROCK THIS, whooo hooo!!” mentality. It’s not that at all. I do The Things (in this case, training) because I’m committed to my goal, whether I’m motivated to do it or not, or I should say, even if I’m NOT motivated.

    Last year I had one last training hike – carrying 40# uphill, 4000′ elevation gain in 2 miles. Crazy steep. I sat in the parking lot and cried. I did not want to do it. I put my pack on finally and just said, “I am not motivated to do this. I don’t want to do this. But am committed to my goal, therefore I must go”. Cried the whole way up. (Did I mention the torrential Washington rainstorm yet?) I just kept repeating that mantra “Because I’m committed”. Also, I think of motivated as an emotion/mentality, and committed as an action.

    So now instead of looking at it as being Motivated, I change that out to being Committed. Hope that helps a bit.

    LindsayTroy on #68459

    I think I can sort of relate. I really struggle with the pre-built plans. Mostly, the workouts tend to be <2hrs long, but you have to do something 6 days a week. I have found that I struggle working out 6 days per week (thats when I get injured!) and it’s hard for me to leave the house for <1hr. I personally have found much greater success with my own plan which is basically just a google sheet that has an hours goal (#1 priority) and then I break it down further into hours at each HR zone. Some weeks, I do 1-2 really long hikes and that plus climbing in the gym is all my training for the week and some weeks it looks a lot more like the training plan. (I bought a training plan to map it after)

    Perhaps you can identify what part of training you’re struggling with that is resulting in a lack of consistency and try to find a work around for that?

    Mariner_9 on #68465

    @deckersdan – a sports psychologist I worked with suggested that the strongest motivation comes from our sense of purpose and our values. Perhaps you can identify a value that’s consistent with sticking to your training plan?

    Nice work on the trad and sport routes!

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