By: Morgan Urtso
No matter what kind of athlete you are – an everyday cycler, a weekend warrior, a distance runner, a seasoned swimmer, an elite pro or active anywhere on the sports spectrum – consistent motivation will be a struggle. It’s inevitable. Even the top tier of the athletic world faces the challenge of maintaining drive and focus.
The successful athletes keep an ace up their sleeve – a motivational tool at their disposal at all times. A resource to push them through that stonewall barrier. A deeper reason to stay on top of their game.
So what drives an athlete? We tapped into a group of elite and everyday all-stars to see where that force to thrive really comes from.
“What motivates me in tough times is thinking about all those people who said I couldn’t be a professional soccer player and proving them wrong. Like right now, there are a lot of people saying I won’t come back from this injury, and if I do, I won’t be the same. But I’m going to prove them wrong.”
Horst sustained a severe right leg injury during a game against Houston in April, putting the Timbers defender under the knife and out six months.
“Let’s face it, some days we all feel like we need a good reason just to get out of bed in the morning … 99 percent of the time, we feel like superheroes after a good run or workout. Our endorphins are all cranked, and we feel absolutely bulletproof. If we could bottle that experience, we’d be millionaires … but more importantly, if we just remind ourselves how great we’ll feel when we’re done with the training, it makes it that much easier to get psyched up for it.”
Stewart uses the following reminders to get psyched for training:
– If I quit now, all the work I’ve put in over the years … will be wasted. Flat-out, throwing away everything that I’ve put my blood, sweat and tears into for so long.
– What will my friends and family think of me if I quit? What type of example am I setting for my kids if I give up when things get hard?
– What will each and every spectator think of me if I don’t give my best? So many of the people on the sidelines during an event or driving by in a car while I’m training are looking for motivation from athletes. If we quit, then we rob them of that goal.
– WWJHD? (What would James Hetfield do?) With music pumping through my headphones, I try to channel my inner rockstar. James Hetfield, the lead singer of Metallica, has continued to perform on stage with burns and broken bones. There’s no way I’m quitting and letting the artists in my ears down.
– Do I look like Julie Moss? (Moss collapsed, but still finished the 1982 Hawaii Ironman) If not, keep going.
New York Giants
“I’m not here to check the box. I’m here to make a difference.”
Bosworth attaches meaning to motivation. It’s not just about him. Knowing what he is going after is worth more than just the ability to say he’s done it is enough to keep the drive alive.
“When life gets tough and my busy lifestyle gets in the way of my energy levels, it’s sometimes hard to stay motivated… It’s okay if you were supposed to run 16 miles, cycle through two cities or lift in the weight room. Sometimes, as athletes, we get stuck in a regimented rut and it causes boredom and a less-than-excited attitude. Challenge yourself by trying something new that day… Music is great, too. Associate some of your favorite songs with reaching goals by listening to them on days when your training is exceptional. When you hear it again, it will get you feeling motivated and ready to repeat that day.”
“I’m constantly reminding myself of these things … success is usually the culmination of controlling failure. A lot of people say they want to be successful, but they don’t want it more than they want to sleep, party or eat fast food. No, they just kind of want it. How bad do YOU want it? When you look better, you feel better. When you feel better, you do better. DO BETTER.”
“I only allow myself to be upset about a performance or anything for that matter for only 24 hours. After that I just get over it, regroup and keep going.”
Nike+ Training Athlete
“I stay motivated by really wanting to see how far I can push myself, and how much I can change my body.”
Buck, a strength and conditioning coach and the athlete in the Nike+ Training app demos, utilizes the nature of curiosity to stay on track, asking himself, “How much better can I get?”