What is it that gets you out of bed in the morning and out on the bike? What is it that keeps you going when everybody else has cried off from the group ride? What is it that drives you to push beyond all previously known limits to win a race?
Couple the right motivation with a structured training programme and a series of goals to work towards and not only will we be able to make huge improvements in performance, but also we will stay committed to putting in the required effort, no matter what.
At the heart of this lies our motivation, without which all of our other mental and physical skills and abilities are pretty much redundant. Because, ultimately, the mind drives the body. We would not get out of bed on a cold and wet morning to ride until the mind tells us to, and this is where our motivation comes from.
Motivation can be split into two different types; intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic, as the name suggests, comes from within and relates to the internal rewards gained from engaging in an activity, in this case cycling.
We gain happiness and enjoyment from the very act itself, and that is enough of a drive to engage in it. An example would be the feeling of satisfaction we get when we see the progress we are making from our training plan, or the sense of pride from finishing a challenging ride.
As Richard Griggs says in his book ‘Psychology: A Concise Introduction’, “a person’s intrinsic enjoyment of an activity provides sufficient justification for their behaviour.” In most cases this is all the motivation we need to go out on our bike.
Extrinsic motivation, on the other hand, is to do with outside recognition and rewards. Those with extrinsic motivations will continue to perform an activity or action even though it might not be in and of itself rewarding.
A prime example of this is suffering through an intense training session knowing that it will give you a higher chance of winning your next time trial and in return receiving praise and recognition from other riders.
We all benefit from extrinsic motivations. Think how many times you’ve made a deal with yourself whilst out on the bike, saying that you can only stop for coffee and a cake once you reach a certain distance. This is a great example of extrinsic motivation since our behaviour is motivated by the promises of an external reward.
The reason why it is important to know what motive rates you is that there are going to be times during training and big events that you’re suffering and a little voice in your head is telling you to quit. If we are lacking in motivation then it’s much easier to listen to the voice, but with a deep-rooted motivation we will fight through the tough times to emerge victorious, in our own right, on the other side.