Words: Mark Fenner

The start of a new year is always a time to reflect on the year before. You should recognise the new skills that have been learnt and the achievements and goals ticked off the bike riding bucket list. It is also a time to learn from the things that didn’t go to plan and understand why they went wrong. By understanding the positives and the negatives we are able to empower ourselves to set new goals.

It’s easy to think that it’s always the physically gifted and talented riders that win races or complete their goals, however, this is not the case. What is it that really underpins performance and drives you, what motivates you to drag yourself out of bed? What is it that makes some athletes give up when they are so obviously talented, and others just keep plugging away, year after year?

As a coach it is not only important to empower athletes to understand why they are doing a certain session from a physiological perspective, but also to understand what is motivating them to do so and to help set goals that are within the reach of the rider for the year and years ahead. 



“Motivation is an internal process that makes a person move toward a goal.”

By understanding the real reason for doing something we can develop our own motivation and continue to make small steps towards better race results and enjoyment out on the bike.
There are two types of motivation and they are both very different. Focusing solely on the wrong type of motivation can lead to problems down the track, so, understanding what it is that motivates you in the first place is fundamental to making 2019 your best year yet. 

Intrinsic motivation focusses on thought process, actions, activities or reactions simply for the sake of doing them and without an obvious external incentive for doing so. Simply riding your bike for the experience is a form of intrinsic motivation. Athletes that are intrinsically motivated are more likely to keep on the path to achieving their long-term goals. This type of motivation is incredibly powerful and is less influenced by external factors.

Extrinsic motivation focuses on rewards or punishment, both tangible and intangible and result in an external benefit. Tangible benefits could include monetary reward or a prize at the end of the race. Intangible could include things like the adoration of others along with recognition and praise.
Motivation is therefore very different for everyone. If we are simply looking to smash our mates or win a race, then our motivation can be lost very quickly as many of the factors that govern these outcomes are often out of our direct control. The feelings of disappointment and failure can lead to us losing the drive and giving up at the first hurdle. Likewise, if we just want to get fitter, faster on the bike and have no real direction or major aim or goal we can also quickly lose the desire to get out and push ourselves.

A combination of both forms of motivation can be the best way to approach the season ahead. If we focus our efforts towards achieving a certain time or distance in a certain race or over a certain course and we aim towards achieving our very best, then we could combine a small amount of both motivational factors to help drive us forward on those cold wet mornings.