Motivation for triathlon training comes and goes. Its normal, but none the less frustrating.
Have you ever had great triathlon goals? Intentions that soon fizzle out? Eager to train for a triathlon and then a few weeks into your plan you drop off? Today I want to let you know why many great ideas and fitness ambitions don’t materialise.
As a triathlete you may or may not be aware that there is an obesity epidemic in the UK. The UK along with the USA and a literally growing number of westernised countries. Along with this come more coronary disease, diabetes, hypertension, depression, backache, and morbidity.
Motivation For Triathlon Training And Obesity Link
In an effort to curb the UK’s headline grabbing declining state of health the government is spending thousands to subsidise individuals in their quest for health.
With the well recognised ‘Change For Life’ campaign, the government plans to pay people to get healthy may have good intentions, but will it work?
Many first time triathletes gain motivation for triathlon training to lose weight, and it is becoming more and more common for triathlon to be an inclusive sport for all abilities.
This really is an exciting time for triathlon as more commonly ‘non exercisers’ are stepping up and embracing the challenge triathlon offers – and losing weight at the same time! That said, there are trends I have observed in my clients.
Stages Of Change Model – The Cycle of Exercise
Buckworth and Dishman (2002). Stages of Change Model.
Buckworth and Dishman (2002) suggested that most people undergo a cycle of health and fitness.
A pre-contemplation stage of inactivity and no intention to begin exercising is followed by an awareness and contemplation to embark on a health and fitness regime or triathlon training programme in this case. Preparation to embark on the plan comes next and finally action is taken.
The government intervention may help people in these initial stages of heath and fitness cycle, but in my experience it is not financial reasons that people stop exercising.
Once on a plan exercisers usually persevere in the maintenance phase for 4-12 weeks with most people relapsing, without reaching their goals and the cycle continues. It is my job to ensure exercisers keep getting results and maintain their motivation to exercise.
What Is The Success Rate?
Fresh starts in January see a massive rise in gym memberships for the first couple of months of the year. People are keen to start as they mean to go on and so embark on a ‘diet’ of some description, join a gym, or vow to use the membership they pay each month.
With the first 2 weeks of the new regime all is well, exercisers are happy, feel good factor, burning off the guilt of Christmas parties and even seeing results when they jump on the scales.
But take a look at graph 1 below, which shows what happens in reality.
Graph 1. Illustration of GAS
The graph illustrates what happens on average is that people set a goal that is usually achievable.
Examples may include losing a dress size, losing 5kg, getting into your old jeans, reducing blood pressure, or getting ready for a wedding or holiday. For us it’ll be something like do a triathlon.
I had one client who stuck a picture on the fridge of himself and his wife in swimwear on the beach, and this was his motivation to lose weight.
The sad stats are that 60% of newcomers who start a fitness regime will quit in the first 4 weeks. That leaves 11 months of unused and paid-for gym membership!
As a result of the GAS the first few weeks show results, and motivation is high, however this progress slows and motivation wanes.
Individuals’ battle on, eating even less, exercising more and results start to regress by week 6. The hard work is not paying off, feelings of monotony set in and the relapse stage sets in.
After all what is the point in a restrictive diet and time consuming exercise if it has no effect? Unfortunately most people do not know how to progress their programme at week four and poor results see many failed new years resolutions, unattained goals and often money wasted!
40% of people will stick to their plan and only 15% will reach their health or fitness goal. Of those who do reach their goal, 90% will employ a decent coach or personal trainer to reach it.
When It Comes To Motivation For Triathlon Training, Consistency Is King
Exercise can be free, or you can pay for gym use or a swimming pool. Either way if you don’t get results that you want you will not persevere with it. The most successful diet or exercise plan is one that you adhere to.
I suggest that paying for people to get healthy may be beneficial by getting people in to the gym, off the sofa and considering what they eat, but without the knowledge they need to keep getting the results they want the maintenance phase of their healthy lifestyle will be short lived and will soon relapse to the sofa.
Maintaining motivation for triathlon training can be easy. Following a triathlon training plan, keep getting fitness results and immerse yourself in a supportive environment whether at home, your local triathlon club or ask a coach for support.
There is nothing stopping you achieving your goal and I’d be excited to help you get there! Happy training, Nico.