Mountaineering Training | The Motivation Factor
Categories: Mountaineering Fitness & Training
A crux for improvement in most any athlete lies in maintaining motivation; maintaining the drive to begin, practice, and persist at a task until you have reached your goals. In a 2009 piece in Psychology Today, Jim Taylor wrote that there are three factors that affect performance: Ability, Competition, and Motivation. Motivation is the only factor over which you have control. Ability (both physical, tactical, and mental) is something that you are born with. Other outside factors influence performance as well such as the away game crowd in sports, or temperature, weather, wind, and conditions in mountaineering. Again, these factors are all beyond our control, and can only be anticipated and dealt with as they appear.
This leaves motivation as the key component to success. When we are motivated, we train and practice in order to maximize our given abilities. This probably isn’t news to anyone, but how do you maintain motivation day after day in a training process that can take well over a year to reach its culmination? How do you maintain your motivation in the face of cold and wet conditions in the winter, hot and muggy in the summer, or when other elements in your life are pressing in and tempting you to skip a day of training? This is the point that sports psychologists refer to as “the grind”, the point at which training and practice cease to be fun or pleasurable and begin to sap at your motivation. How you respond to the grind is what separates a top performance from a mediocre one.
When you feel your training and motivation beginning to suffer, be willing to admit it and decide what direction you are going to take. You can continue on your current trajectory, or you can redirect yourself toward your goals and redouble your efforts. Once you decide on a path, dedicate yourself to it and recognize that your training needs to hold a place of priority in your daily schedule. At the same time, take a moment to evaluate your training and decide what is working and what isn’t. If running is hurting your knees and causing you to dread your workouts, reduce the number of running workouts in your training and shift those workouts to a lower impact activity such as cycling. When the gym becomes claustrophobic, take your core workouts outside to the local park or woods.
It’s something of a cliché to say that the difference between athletes and great athletes is their dedication to the game. Pelé once said that, “I used to train very hard. When the other players went to the beach after training, I was there kicking the ball.” While most climbers don’t have the time to dedicate themselves singularly to climbing like Pelé did, try to practice that same mental dedication. Ask yourself in the morning what you can do that day to improve and give yourself the best chance on Rainier or any other peak. Before you head to bed, ask yourself if you did everything you could that day to achieve your goals. Finally, if you have a novel trick that you use to stay motivated, post it in the comments below. Your trick may be just the ticket for another climber!
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