How do you look at training?

By Jim on Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Motivation to get out of bed!

When it is cold and wet outside it makes for challenging times if you are training in the off-season in preparation for the summer competitions…

The ability to stay motivated about training despite the weather can be assisted by a variety of strategies.

However, before we even get into the strategies there has to be reason why you are training instead of curling up and staying warm in bed for that extra hour or so…

Why are you training?

Not only do you need to know why you are training, but also you must place a high value that reason to train.

Staying motivated can be a complicated dilemma or you can choose to make it simple. 

Let’s keep it simple.  Ensure you have a really good reason for training through the cooler months and the rest is a lot easier.  

Often the reasons to train are focused on the work required for an outcome, (i.e., winning a race).  While is likely to work, a goal such as this can seem distant during winter off-season months and may not provide the motivation you truly require to get out of bed on those cold winter mornings.

To discover what motivates you it helps to think about what you enjoy most about your sport. 

Is it the thrill of pushing your self to your maximum? 

Is it the serenity of the training environment? 

Is it the positive feedback you receive from coaches? 

Is it the social interaction with squad members? 

Is it the sense of accomplishment you feel after a solid training session?

Once you have a high valued reason it helps to ensure your goal is reinforced on a daily basis… In other words…eat, sleep, and breathe your goals.

There is no need for me to explain goals as you have read about them in the first Mental Notes blog –

But, what we can entertain are three simple strategies (of many strategies) to help you to keep your motivation high year-round.


We live in a visual world and there are endless ways to make sure your goal is in front of your eyes as many times as possible. 

You can simply write your goals on paper and stick them up in places that get high visual connection, you can choose a picture that represents your goals and stick that up in places that get high visual connection, you can make one of your goals the password on your phone and computer, or you can put a visual representation of your goals on your screen saver and home pages on your computer and phone.

Essentially, you are trying to work in a similar way that marketing works with most products and services – continual, consistent visual reminders…

These goals can also be incorporated into your training to help your motivation.  For example, you can write a code for your goals on a sticker to place on your paddle or front of your boat for reminders during the session or even on your boat racks to remind you at the beginning of a session.


Despite the lack or shortage of competitions in winter it doesn’t mean that you cannot have successful attempts at achieving your goals.

Find ways to celebrate your successes throughout the off-season.  You will have process and performance goals that you are trying to achieve in your training sessions that deserve recognition and reward when they are achieved.

You can celebrate your wins by organising events around your training to reward your efforts.  Something as small as a squad breakfast after a morning session can help with immediate rewards and provide further motivation to train.  As you will have performance goals that you are trying to achieve during your training, aim to plan ways that you will celebrate when you reach these goals.


In keeping with reference to process and performance goals, it is important to review training sessions.  Olympic paddlers will have key training sessions that are ‘test’ sets or simulations sets… These are good to monitor progress and provide a great starting point to review regularly, rather than leave it all until the season starts.

When trying to transfer the lessons of Olympians to your training, video analysis is a great way to ensure you review your training performance on a regular basis.

Furthermore, it is always beneficial to record your training and training performance in a training diary.  Keep notes on key performance indicators, the time and place you have trained, and whether you reached your targets for the session.   Mental Notes consulting has developed our own training diary for this purpose -

It can also be beneficial to schedule a regular time to meet other athletes to discuss and review performances.  Discussing your performances in a group setting can provide an insight into your own training processes and performances.

We hope you enjoyed reading about these strategies to maintain motivation.

Now, get out of bed!

Andrea Furst was the national team sport psychologist for sprint canoe-kayak from 2006-2012 and was involved in the preparation and performance at two Olympic Games.  Contact Andrea Furst from Mental Notes Consulting –, for further information on how you can integrate psychological skills into your paddling performances at training and competition.