Published 17 Nov 2020

Staying motivated through tough times

By, Pulsant

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For top athletes, finding motivation in circumstances outside of their control is vital. 2020 has forced sportsmen and women to come to terms with the most significant disruption to the worldwide sporting calendar since the Second World War, which has been a challenging, but unavoidable facet of their lives. Athletes affected by the disappointment of the postponement of major events, such as the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, have needed to dig deep to find the motivation to keep on pushing ahead with their punishing training routines.

For the third instalment of our British rowing blog series, we sat down with GB rower Becky Muzerie who opened up about the keys to staying motivated, overcoming motivational dips and what inspires her to succeed.

The power of preparation

Mental preparation is just as important as the physical for success.

For me, self-motivation is simple. It’s all about reminding yourself why you are doing what you do, understanding the great privilege of the opportunity you have and drawing on inspiration from the hard times.

In preparation, finding perspective is all important. As an athlete the many occasions you suffer lows from missing out on selection, or being injured, make the highs of participating in big events all the greater. To fill myself with confidence the night before a race, I often remind myself of all the things I have achieved in the months preparing for the event.

Supporting each other is a great part of the camaraderie of team sports, However, when that support is not available you need to be able to rely on yourself. In our 2018 eight, a teammate who gave motivational speeches before each race provided a tremendous boost in confidence. But sometimes when such support is no longer there you have to leave your comfort zone. This can mean stepping up and taking a leadership role, even if it doesn’t come naturally. This was the case when we later raced without that crew member, which provided an opportunity for me to take up the mantel and spur the crew on before the race, something I’d never been confident enough to do previously.

Many athletes, including myself, often find motivation peaks straight after a big race or event. Following a win or a good performance it is normal to get excited about the next goal and you want to jump straight back into training again. Sometimes it is better to give your body a break and it is always worth making time to review what has happened, good or bad and sitting with that emotion before moving on to the next challenge.

Overcoming adversity

During periods of low motivation, half the battle is just getting a training session started.

Having a routine with quite limited time slots to do training sessions is a great way to overcome motivational dips. You just have to get on with it because it becomes a matter of now or never!

The amount of mental energy it takes to get back on the rowing machine can be exhausting, but you’ll often find that once you begin, it gets easier. It’s like going to the gym or for a run – the thought of getting ready and driving all the way there is the biggest demotivator, but it’s not never as bad once you’re there.

With the Olympics now feeling so very far away, I’ve set short term goals to focus on. This attitude has helped me to keep on taking the next stroke during the long lonely sessions.

If you are feeling low, it is important to remind yourself that training is a choice. Personally, I have chosen to dedicate this period of my life to trying to be the best I can at rowing. You don’t want to look back and have any regrets about skipping sessions when you didn’t need to.

Finding inspiration in sport

Sport is an integral part of a healthy society. On an individual level it is fantastic for our wellbeing, both physical and mental. On a group level it provides a social benefit for people to learn and work with others. And on a national level, sport has a unique power to bring a country together.

I am driven by the idea that I might be able to inspire other people to take a risk and follow their dreams, in or outside of sport. This is what motivates me to push my limits beyond what I thought possible in order to reach my goals.

Afterall, success in sport is just like success in every walk of life – it’s all about striving each and every day to become the best version of yourself.