Photo: AASI/Julie Shipman



Practice may be the most important aspect of training, but it also can be lonely and tedious. What motivates athletes to stay with their regimen, even on days when they feel like giving up?


“You have to be careful, because skipping practice or doing it half-hearted is a slippery slope. You coast one day, and the next thing you know you’re skipping another,” warned Schultz. “It’s just better to go out there and push yourself. At the end, you’ll feel better and you won’t have set yourself back.”


Pushing oneself is especially challenging for athletes involved in individual sports, where there are no colleagues to practice with or turn to for motivation. It all has to come from within.


“There are times when I have to dig really deep, like when I’m all alone on the stationary bike at 2:00 a.m.,” Melgaard explained. “I’m a spiritual person, so I pray for energy. I also remind myself what I’m doing this for, which is to get out there and compete at what I love.”


Photo: AASI/Julie Shipman

The desire to gain recognition for their achievements also motivates athletes to practice at the highest level possible. After all, they are among the few who will be judged publicly on the quality of their performances.


“My most intense days are during practice, because that’s where the groundwork is laid,” Murphy said. “I keep internal pressure stoked. I tell myself that I want to have the utmost confidence when the world’s eyes are watching me.”


The desire to avoid pain also can be a useful source of motivation. For Schultz, a passion for riding usually can lure him onto his bike, but, he said, “There are definitely days I’d rather just take a ride with my buddies and stop at a coffee shop. But, if I don’t practice hard, I know I’ll have painful races. I want to avoid that at all costs.”


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