For those not "in the know" let us first refer back to my favorite source of online knowledge: urban dictionary. UB defines to be "stoked" as "to be completely and intensely enthusiastic, exhilirated, or excited about something; those who are 'stoked' all of the time know this: that being stoked is the epitome of all-being and when one is stoked there is no limit to what one can do."
A more eloquent and all-encompassing definition you will never find, I am sure. I also fully believe that it is true: when you are stoked about something you will CRUSH IT.
Everyone goes through lulls, peaks, valleys, troughs, etc. There are high points and low points. Just as with training volume, it's important - when thinking in the context of excitement/motivation levels - to not have the peaks too high and the valleys too low. That is key to overall performance. There are some things that you can get easily excited/stoked about so it's important to sort of "reign it in" at times. You only pull out the get-super-stoked methods during the times when they are absolutely necessary. Natural stoked-ness will happen for the things that you are naturally stoked about so there is no need to pull out the big guns.
For me, I mostly struggle with motivation at the beginning of the year, in the middle of the year and sometimes at the end of the year. Now, at first glance that may sound like the entire year but what I really mean is when I first start getting back into training for a new year it's tough because my watts are low, my swim paces are slow, and my runs are a bit of struggle so it is tough to get excited about the year because you feel slow and out of shape! In the middle of the year (i.e. summer) one is in the middle of the year (kinda like being in the middle of the Atlantic and hitting the doldrums. Nice metaphor, go me) and the middle of summer so it is hot and I've presumably been training at a somewhat high level for some period of time and it's only halfway over and so it's a tough period. At the end of the year I've been training a whole lot and I am tired and sometimes a little sick of riding the bike and so motivation drops.
Sometimes it's tough to get excited about a certain race (i.e. because you feel like you HAVE to do it or whatever), it's tough to get excited about swimming, it's tough to get stoked for run workouts, it's tough to get excited about a long drive, it's tough to get stoked about work, it's tough...oh wait...you get my drift, sorry. Sometimes I get a little carried away...
Basically, the point of this post is to share some things I do when I need that extra little bit; when the stoked-ness is suffering and needs a nice little bump to get over the hump.
If there is one thing that works EVERY. SINGLE. TIME when I am down about swimming it is purchasing a new suit. There is nothing more simple than scouring the internet for the wildest, most awesomest speedos on the planet. There is nothing that gets you quite as motivated to put in the hard work of swimming. There is nothing that makes you feel quite as sexy as a new suit. There is nothing that amazes your friends with your audacity quite as much as a new suit. I personally don't like boring stuff. I like to let it all hang out, metaphorically speaking of course. A suit should make a STATEMENT. It should tell your lanemates and general passers-by that you mean business and that you take yourself very, very seriously and they should take you seriously as well.
Exhibits A, B and C:
I actually have the great pleasure of owning these exact suits. Well, not ALL of them, but the best ones anyway. If you want and in-person preview of how stoked you could make yourself just by pulling on a sweet, sexy set of briefs and contemplating your awesomeness as you stand over the pool deck fully ready to take the proverbial and physical plunge.
Swimming is easy to get jacked up about from a material standpoint. I mean, just looking at those suits gets me all jacked up to wake up and swim in the morning and yes, I am being completely serious. I motivate myself for biking and running workouts in much the same way as I do with swimming: buying new stuff. My personal outlet for cycling purchases comes in the form of bike shoes; I LOVE bike shoes. Not tri shoes, because most of those suck...but ROAD shoes. Or should I say "real" shoes. Over the past couple of years, here is a list of the shoes I have owned (mostly in the past 2 years)
Nike somethings (first pair that lasted many years)
Scott Tri Carbon (first pair of tri shoes!)
Giro Prolight SLX
Mavic Tri Race
Fizik R3 Uomo
Sidi Genius 6.6
Specialized S Works Road (2012 version)
Specialized S Works Road (2013 version)
Fizik R1 Uomo
So basically when I need a pick-me-up I basically seem to choose purchasing bike shoes. There are few things better than looking down at a sick pair of kicks to get you jacked up and stoked to rail on some fools using your bicycle. Seriously.
But to be honest, whatever floats your boat is what you need to get your stoked meter running on FULL. For some people that may just be the right music or a nice fresh shave of the legs or a new pair of bibs or the right friend to ride with or...or...etc.
You can probably guess what's coming next: getting stoked for RUNNANG. As with cycling, shoes can and do get me motivated to bust out some sweet, sweet miles on the roads and sidewalks (not on the trails because I do not get excited about running on the trails). Sometimes trying a new running route can get my motor running just the right way. Anything YOU need to do to get yourself excited is what you need to do!
This post was galvanized by the Charlotte Motor Speedway 10 mile TT series on Wednesday night of this week. I was not stoked. Nobody was going with me, it was windy in the morning, I was tired from lots of training and I was skeptical of my ability to go fast. The time approached when I needed to depart for Concord from work and I was just not excited. I tried a couple of home remedies, like buying a bunch of sugar:
Based on the premise that so much sugar would get my juices flowing this method had sound reasoning behind it but it only got me halfway there, so to speak. Even when I showed up and saw Mike Starkey there (so I'd have someone to talk to) only increased my desires a couple of percentage points.
Even seeing some stiff competition there (Derek Kidwell - who would go on to finish a mere 4s behind me - and some of the other usual top 5 guys, including Eric Christopherson - who would have the fastest time of the day wearing - a skinsuit that read "SC State TT Champion" on the butt - knowing I had beaten him at that race...) couldn't quite get the job done.
What it took was a bet. There is nothing quite like a bet to get you motivated. Jenny texted me and asked if I cared to make a friendly wager. She asked how far off the category record my last time at the time trial was, to which I responded 3 seconds (last year I set the course record for 25-29 at 20:49 and earlier this year cruised to a 20:52). She asked if I thought I could break the record, to which I said "yes." She said if I DID break the record she would wash my car. She said if I DID NOT break the record I would have to wash her car...in my purple speedo. Not wanting to be forced into such an arduous and demeaning task I took it upon myself to get all kinds of jacked up and set a new category course record of 20:28, averaging a hair over 29 mph. Looks like I'm getting a free car wash!
So those are a few ways I get myself stoked...how do you get stoked, hmm???