Is your training Virtual, or is it Real?

Is your training Virtual, or is it Real?

Is your training Virtual, or is it Real?


2020 is the year of Virtuality and I’m sure most of us are asking did this year really happen and where will it go from here?

The on again off again racing calendar, and the lock out restrictions on what and where we can go from time to time, has zapped our training Motivation and training is following the same trend.

Now, more than ever is the time to become more of an Intrinsic Motivated athlete and let go of the Extrinsic Motivation, most athletes cross between both at different times in their lives, but the athletes that get consistent results for longer, get their Motivation Intrinsically.


 Intrinsic V Extrinsic Motivation

According to self-determination theory, motivation has essentially two sources: extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic motivation comes in the form of rewards, which are generally provided by other people in the form of negative or positive reinforcement. These rewards may be comprised of praise, constraints, awards or money.

On the other hand, people who are Intrinsically Motivated look inwardly to be competent and self-determined; especially, in regard to their pursuit of mastering a given task.

Intrinsically motivated athletes participate for the love of the sport, may enjoy competition, focus of having fun, and are excited to learn skills which improve performance.

It may seem clear which type of athlete you want to be in order to enjoy success and longevity in your sport, but the reality is that most athletes fall somewhere on the motivation spectrum between intrinsic and extrinsic—and their position can change as they experience different stimuli.

After evaluating myself over many years, I felt more Intrinsic with my paddling and how I felt meant more to me than the speed or the race result and when I was at the top of my Intrinsic state, my willingness to train was at its highest.

I have just recently joined in with a local group of Master prone trainers at the beach 3 mornings a week for general fitness and social stimulation and the level of Intrinsic Motivation amongst this group is amazing to witness.


Virtual = Extrinsic

Of course, the various types of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation are not exclusive. Neither is wrong; extrinsic and intrinsic motivation go hand in hand in the realm of performance sports. The question merely is to which extent an athlete tends. Highly successful athletes, for example, tend to be more intrinsically motivated by setting themselves as a standard of excellence and focusing on individual improvement rather than outcomes.

However, outcome goals are still important for these athletes in order to progress their skills. Downplaying ego-orientation, opponents and competitive goal and concentrating on the tasks on hand will lead to a satisfactory equilibrium and higher self-determination.


When the athlete participates in the sport due to valued outcomes, they are still not participating solely for the sake of the sport itself, integrated regulation is the most developed type of extrinsic motivation.

Athletes may feel that they’re acting of their free will when external rewards are present. For example, an athlete prepares for an outcome goal (result) at a competition like a Virtual race when the playing field is different for everyone and there can only really be a personal outcome gain (personal best) and not results comparison (World Ranking).


Also, most would agree that openly sharing workouts on social media, paddling in virtual competitions can be assigned to the extrinsic spectrum; especially, in the context of knowingly performing in front of an audience. Nowadays, it easy to build a follower base of hundreds of people, potentially imposing a feeling of “being watched” on the athlete. This may affect athletic or performance-oriented motivation on a global level, due to getting rewarded more frequently (or not) by a typical extrinsic reward, such as large amounts of comments and likes on social media.


Intrinsic Goal setting


So Intrinsic or Extrinsic, if we set personal Goals and have a Plan to follow to meet those Goals, then isn’t that still mostly Extrinsic and outcome motivated and controlled by only external sources such as rewards and punishment? No, because personal Goals are Internal rewards and are flexible and progressive.

Three components of Intrinsic Motivation are competence, autonomy, and community—they help promote Intrinsic Motivation.


Having a sense of mastery related to one’s own performance and feeling confident and self-efficacious; are factors that impact the feeling of competence. Focusing on process and performance goals related to oneself, and less on outcome goals such as results; this, potentially fosters an individual’s motivation.



An athlete should have a say in the decision making of a given training plan; incorporating workouts that convey a sense of independence; for example, choosing the intensity or duration. Deciding to follow a Proven Training Plan is a personal motivation to become accountable to yourself.



Engaging in a paddling group with the same interests such as a network of athletic peers, caring for others, and to have them care for the respective person, are examples which may strengthen the sense of community.


So set realistic Intrinsic Goals and when your Motivation is lacking, go back to what and why you enjoy your time out paddling and focus on the Process and sense the Independence of being on the water and at the same time being a part of Community.

If you need some help with your Intrinsic Motivation join my online training Community and follow a Training Plan that will give you progression and Longevity in the sport.



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