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Motivation

What Motivates Athletes To Participate In Extreme Sports

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Extreme Sports Motivation

This article aims to look at what motivates athletes to participate in extreme sports whether they be gruelling, dangerous, arduous or just plain challenging.

 

So Why Do People Participate in Extreme Sports?

 

  • Money: perhaps in some cases. Yet only a few chosen ones will ever make a decent living out of their chosen sport. In triathlons for example the majority of participants are amateurs, who for some non-financial reason have taken time out of their frantic work days and busy personal or family schedule to train for hours and hours, and weeks and weeks on end to swim, bike and run for the limited duration of a race.
  • Fame: again maybe, but most people have never heard of Ross Clarke Jones (big wave surfer) or Chrissie Wellington (an undefeated triathlon world champion who defeats most of the top men).  Fame is a fickle, fleeting thing.  Unless you’re extremely talented, media savvy, a good role model and great at your chosen sport, it will only take a generation and then your forgotten and hardly anyone will remember who you were.
  • Ego: I think you can tell in an athlete’s persona when this is the case. Fortunately if your ego is bloated enough and the sport you are doing is extreme enough there is only one thing that will happen. Your ego will get crushed. Or someone better comes along.
  • Challenging yourself: Competition with others and with yourself brings out the best . This is the definitive reason or motivation I will participate in any sport. Self-improvement is the main reason people want to challenge themselves.

 

Striving for Self-Improvement and Reaching Personal Goals

In the 3100 mile race, every moment, every step was taking me closer and closer towards finishing. The feeling I got from improving myself, surpassing miles way beyond my previous personal best, far transcended the physical pain and mental hurdles I faced. The first time I did it, I was basically in agony the entire time, but I was incredibly happy because I was challenging myself.

Self-improvement takes us beyond our present capacities and achievements. It involves staying focused and competing only with ourselves. “If I can improve myself, if I can go beyond my previous achievements, then that is my goal. My own previous record is always what I am competing with” said Sri Chinmoy, founder of the longest ultra-marathon, the 3100 mile race, in reference to his own fitness goals. Many climbers echo the same sentiments “My own previous record is always what I am competing with. I am always looking for goals that are challenging me,” mentioned Ueli Steck, one of the world’s best climbers, “I am not just climbing…I really want to reach my goal.”

Track athletes are no different. 9 time Olympic track and field gold medallist Carl Lewis said:

“The joy that comes from ‘going beyond’ is the most incredible feeling in the world. I have felt it many times. And I have enjoyed watching others experience it.”

It doesn’t really depend on where you are or what you have, if you are short of inspiration you have to seek and find it and it is only going to come from yourself. Challenging yourself in a fitness setting or extreme sport can do this. Self-improvement is the key to life’s journey. Many of us remain stagnant for most of our lives. We get caught by chains of financial and moral responsibilities, stuck in a rut, unable to free ourselves from the monotonous life we are in. The scales get tipped too far and we forget to nourish ourselves and stay positive and happy. It doesn’t take much to turn the situation around, only a desire to extend or better yourself. For some people this might be jogging ten kilometres, studying a new language or taking up a new hobby. For others it might be summiting a peak or riding a hundred foot wave.

Self-improvement involves getting out of your comfort zone but it allows us to smash out of the jail cell or box we feel trapped in. It is going that bit further or taking an extra step or trying that much harder to achieve something, to live our dreams and to become something.  If we have faith in ourselves, we can accomplish anything. And with achievement, happiness automatically comes.

 

Failing and Trying Again

Occasionally we do fail but that is part of it. If do something with one hundred per cent effort, if we put all our patience, devotion and dedication into something without expectation, then we can be happy even if we stumble. We learn from this experience and try again. “It’s not about any records,” mentioned 6 time ironman winner and 2 time duathlon world champion Olivier Bernhard, “As long as I reached my full potential I would be happy at the finish…it’s not about winning, it’s not about the money, it’s about making constant progress and becoming a better person on the lasting journey.” On a personal level, in my four 3100 mile races I have bettered my time every year. My 2012 finish was a week faster than my debut. I won it one year, but the satisfaction from going beyond my personal best was far greater than standing on the podium. Someday I won’t improve and this will be something I will have to deal with in a positive manner.

Everyone wants to progress.  Working as a business speaker, I see this thirst for progress all the time. It is very noticeable with ambitious, career-driven people. Someone who achieves a lot in the business world often has focus, concentration, drive and dedication in boundless measure.  Athletes are the same, they are just directing and focusing their energies to another area and perhaps gaining a more rewarding experience.

 

(Video) The Mind Of A 3100 Mile Ultra Runner

 

Feature Image courtesy of Vincent Thian

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Wildchild

    Sep 16, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    I think that the above goals are motivation for both extreme sports athletes as well as main stream sports. It’s really just a matter of what you view as extreme…

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. william hamel

    Aug 26, 2013 at 10:42 pm

    El deporte extremo se debe apoyar, para que se sigan creando este tipo de eventos llenos de adrenalina y pasión por el deporte.

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Welcome to our new normal. A time in our lives that a year ago we certainly didn’t see coming that most of us probably wouldn’t have chosen for ourselves; but here we are. As the days away from each other carry on and more and more bad news comes our way, it’s easy to lose your motivation and waste energy doing things that aren’t helpful like worrying and fighting with people on the internet instead.

Nearly half of Americans report the coronavirus crisis is harming their mental health, according to the Washington Post. While many of us had routines set up to deal with stress in the past, the stress we are facing during this time is unlike anything we’ve experienced before. It’s easy to find yourself in a downward spiral, and that’s the most challenging time to stop the momentum and turn things around. If that’s the case, keep it simple and start to reach for little things to help you feel better and climb your way out.

Here’s a reminder of a few simple things you can do right now to start getting positive momentum going your way:

1. Find someone who was in a similar place and made it to the other side

Whether you’ve been unmotivated to workout, eat healthy, make sales calls or simply do anything, you can find someone who has been there and made it to the other side. Look up some great TED talks, go on YouTube and look up people that motivate you, google them to find their websites. There are short speeches and much longer talks all over the internet, you just need to find someone who you relate to that speaks to you.

2. Do something that you love

When we’re unmotivated, it’s easy to get out of the habit of doing what we love. Sometimes just getting out of bed or away from the tv feels like a chore. Think back to a time in your life when you felt great – what were you doing? What do you absolutely love to do that if you had the time, you would do all day and not realize any time had passed at all? 

Figure out a way to do whatever that is, or a modified version of it if it is something that you aren’t able to do at the present time. Spending time doing what you love will get your mind off of anything that is wrong and allow you to find inspiration.

“If something is important enough, even if the odds are stacked against you, you should still do it.” – Elon Musk

3. Don’t overcomplicate it

Keep it simple. When we’re stuck in a rut, we’ll give ourselves every excuse to not do something. Say you’ve gained some weight; you might tell yourself you need to find the perfect trainer and wait until you have time to cook your meals from scratch each night before you do anything else. Stop trying to overcomplicate it and keep it simple by finding one thing you can do right now, however small that may be. You don’t have to wait until the timing is perfect and the stars align for you to start moving in the direction you want to go.  

4. Get up and get moving

This is probably the last thing you want to do right now, but once you are up and moving, your blood will start flowing. The hardest part is getting started. Day one, get up and do anything to get moving. This is the hardest day if you haven’t in a while because getting up is really the hardest part. Day two, do a little more. Once you start, you’ll build momentum and get back in the habit.

5. Reset your focus

It’s so easy for worry to set in and for our minds to wander to places of what we can’t control. This is not motivating or helpful and we always have a choice to redirect our attention. There is always something we can do right where we are, so bring your focus to the solution instead of the problem and figure out the next step of what you can do. 

One step at a time. Step one, take your attention away from what you can’t control and what you can’t do. Step two, ask yourself questions like “What can I do?” and see what comes to mind. Follow through with the answers you find.

6. Listen to your favorite music

Not much can lift our spirits and put us into a positive vibration more than our favorite music. Feel free to sing along. Find a song that pumps you up and make that your theme song. Put it on anytime you feel down or unmotivated.

7. Expand your knowledge

“In times of change, the learners will inherit the Earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” Quote by Eric Hoffer. In times of change, there is great loss but also great opportunity. Continually learning opens you to new opportunities and leads you to paths you may not have otherwise found.  

“Work like there is someone working twenty four hours a day to take it away from you.” – Mark Cuban

8. Meditate

If you’re already a meditator and got away from it, take some time to come back to it. If you’ve never tried, it can be as easy as setting a timer for five minutes (or less, feel free to start with one or two minutes) and focusing on your breath. Listen to the inhalations and exhalations. Silently say to yourself “in” as you inhale and “out” as you exhale. Even taking a few minutes to do this can help you to calm down and allow your mind to refocus.

When we’re unmotivated, our momentum starts moving in the other direction. Slow down that momentum by trying one of the ideas above. Once you’ve slowed down the momentum, get it moving in the right direction and you’ll be well on your way.

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