8 tricks to motivate yourself to hit the turbo

When I was ironman training the toughest sessions I had to do were not the six-hour long rides or 20-mile runs, but the turbo sessions. The short walk across the garden from my house to my garage – where my pain cave is set up – always took epic levels of discipline. Especially in the cold, dark winter days/evenings. I’m sure you all know the feeling well.

Finding the motivation to hit the turbo is one of our toughest training challenges. No mates to ride with, no nice views to distract us and we often dread the pressure of hitting those big watts. We all know once we’ve done the session we feel great, but the first step is often the hardest.

Below I’ve listed some nifty tricks to help you get your arse in gear and hop on the turbo full of motivation. Some are simple tools for when you only need a gentle nudge, others are more powerful techniques for when your mojo has properly ridden off and left you. 

So next time you’re suffering with CBA, try one or several of these. 

#1 Motivation follows intention. Waiting till you feel motivated could mean waiting forever but if you set an intention, motivation follows. That intention could be just putting on your bib shorts. The mind responds to mini strategies so just take one step towards your goal and your brain will get the message that it’s time to go.

#2 Remember your ‘why’. Motivation isn’t about what you’re doing by why you’re doing it. Every athlete should have a solid, personal and powerful reason (or reasons) for doing it. Remind yourself of your why every time you feel motivation waning. It’s a helpful tool in the middle of tough training sessions too.

Not got a why? Drop me a message and I’ll let you have steps on how to create one.

#3  In your head play a film of you doing the session: watch yourself powering on the turbo. Then imagine yourself doing it: see it through your own eyes and engage all senses – hear your hard breathing, feel the sweat, see the numbers on the screen. Experiment with this visual by making it brighter, more colourful, larger, bringing it closer. Make the sound more intense, louder and even add some music – a song you know gets you pumped. Any feelings you have inside the body, intensify them in any way you can, double the feeling, or create an intensity dial in your mind and crank that feeling up.

#4 Create a ‘zone dome’. This take a bit of time but is super powerful. It’s about making your own personal bubble of performance that you can step in and out of at will. 

– Start by imagining yourself standing in a circle. Fill the circle with a colour you find positive and energising. Surround yourself with the colour and notice how you are feeling. Allow the feeling to grow stronger until it reaches a peak. When it’s at its most intense, step out of the circle. 

  • Then do a physical pose or movement of cycling. As you do it imagine you’re surrounded by that dome of colour again. Allow the the feeling to grow to peak intensity once more and then step our of the circle. 
  • Then repeat the process but this time think of a word or phrase that encapsulates the emotion you want to feel – maybe ‘fast’ ‘strong’ or even ‘relaxed’. Repeat the word and have the zone around you once more. Let the intensity build again to peak state and then step out. 
  • Do this process once more with a song or music that makes you feel good and play around with how loud you like it. 

Then fold up the circle/zone dome and put it in your pocket. You can take it out any time, anywhere and step into it for the feelings to return. Yes it seems bonkers but give it a try.

#5 Watch a YouTube clip of a time trial/race/triathlon (your chosen sport). Sometimes just seeing others doing it can spur the joy. 

#6 Recall a past time when you felt energetic, powerful and strong. Maybe it was a race or time trial that went really well. Close your eyes and go back into that state. Really feel all the things again that you felt then. Engage all your senses, relive all the moments, make it really intense. When you open your eyes you might find you’re ready for that session.

#7 Ask yourself how you will feel if you don’t do the session. Or swap the hard one for an easy ride. It’s easy to talk yourself out of it or make it easier but you know every session feeds into the next. If you skip this session imagine how you will feel later, tomorrow, next week or on race day when you don’t hit the PB you aimed for or fell short of your race day goal. 

This sounds negative but “away motivation” can sometimes work. Reaching your end goal only happens if you take each step on the way.

#8 Be accountable. Tell someone you’re going to do the session – having to report back to a friend or a coach or your partner makes you 50% more likely to do it.

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