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Motivation Posted on 10.14.2010 by greg.kuchyt

A couple months ago a guy in the gym asked me what motivates me to push so hard during a training session. I honestly didn’t even know how to answer the question. I knew what to say, but I didn’t know how to say it. A certain part of all this is somewhat akin to drinking the Kool-Aid; either you understand what it’s about and why, or you don’t. In the back of my mind was a conversation I had with a new climbing partner where he admitted he thought I was an asshole because I’m so quiet when training. When thinking about how to answer this question, I was torn between giving an honest answer (filled with elitist absolutes and indictments) and sounding like an asshole or giving a more generalized response.

I opted for the cop out and strategically pawned it all off on a single inarguable concept; safety. In the gym there are few consequences and failing is safe. Outside, the same isn’t necessarily true. In the mountains, the rule is “speed is safety”. The less time exposed to risk, the better. This training makes me lighter & faster, hopefully helping to me to reduce my time being exposed to objective dangers (falling ice, avalanche terrain, etc). As well, being relatively strong for my size and body weight makes me “harder to kill”. There are enough risks in the mountains and in the back-country, we don’t need to add being unfit to the list.

The above argument about safety is all true, it’s just not the full story. What I really was thinking was, this is training; work done to achieve an ultimate goal (in our case, defined by performance). There’s no room for excuses or half-ass work on a hard pitch of rock or ice. Why should there be in the training environment? If I’m not pushing hard in my training sessions, I’m not committed to my end goal. This training is all about commitment; the mobilization of all available resources dedicated to the task at hand, to borrow from Mark Twight. Perhaps this is a foreign concept; it seems that many people want the results without having to do the work. This shallow desire is reflected in their commitment to the task-at-hand; and in the end it’s also reflected in their accomplishments or the style in which they are achieved.

So, what motivates me? The desire to progress I suppose. The desire to tackle bigger, harder, more committing objectives “in the mountains” and to do so safely, or as safely as possible. The journey itself also motivates me. I know that in order to obtain my goals, I need to put in the wrench time moving barbells, training grip strength/endurance, toughening my mental game, and putting it all together on my version of “game day”. The process transforms who I am at a fundamental level, I learn from and adapt to the things I experience. I know if I don’t push hard while training to become the person I want to be and only pretend to be that person, I’ll be sorely disappointed when the day comes that I try to stand up to the talk. I’m motivated because I want, and in order to get what you want you have to do the work, end of story.