Five Lessons In Motivation From Olympic Champion Jason Gardener

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Motivation is a fickle beast. One morning you can wake up full of beans and ready for anything, the next you can barely be bothered to get out of bed. As Olympic champion in the 4x100m relay at Athens in 2004 and current president of UK Athletics, Jason Gardener knows plenty about staying motivated and achieving your goals, however lofty they may be. Coach spoke to Gardener for some tips on staying motivated ahead of the Great Manchester Run, where he will run the 10k race as Duracell Bunny pacer.

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1. Don’t Be Afraid To Set Yourself High Targets

You’re probably not waking up each morning with the intention of training towards an Olympic gold (if you are, the very best of luck to you), but you should still set goals that are well outside your comfort zone.

“One thing which keeps you motivated is having goals,” says Gardener.

“Looking back at my career the goals that I set tended to be really high. It can feel bit unachievable, so you need determination too.

“It’s like climbing a mountain – keep making progress. Sometimes you need to come back down a bit, but you’ve got to keep looking up and aspiring to reach those goals.”

2. Build In More Achievable Goals Along The Way

Having one overarching goal is great, but smaller, more achievable targets that you can tick off along the way will help to build momentum. “You’ve got to build in milestone goals on that journey,” says Gardener.

“Create some goals which are realistic to achieve. Before you know it – if you’re determined and apply yourself the right way – you can start to pick off some of those goals.”

3. The Biggest Opportunities Can Come From Your Disappointments

Disappointments are an inevitable part of life and how you react to them can be the deciding factor in whether you reach your ultimate target or fold along the way.

“I look back at my career and I spent the majority of my time – maybe 90% – really, really disappointed, beating myself up, or frustrated with injuries,” says Gardener. “That’s a natural part of it when you’re pushing yourself and striving to reach excellence. You have to deal with the low points.

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“I’m a firm believer that opportunities lie in your disappointments. Once you take the time and get over the raw emotions of failure, it reveals where your weaknesses are – where you need to improve.”

4. Preparation Is The Key To Success

When it comes to the critical moment that defines success or failure, you’re going to be a lot more confident of achieving the former if you’ve put the time into your preparation.

“You get what you put into it,” says Gardener. “With the Great Run Series, people are doing it for many different purposes. They should go to the start line knowing they’ve prepared for success and have an idea of what they want to achieve. Running at all would be a challenge without preparation.”

5. Keep Finding New Challenges As You Get Older

Even after achieving his Olympic dream, Gardener has never stopped pushing himself to find new challenges, whether that’s entering his sport’s administration to become president of UK Athletics, or taking on 10K at the Great Manchester Run.

“I could be like millions of other people, sitting on the couch thinking, ‘It would be good to do that’. Before you know it years have gone by and you haven’t got round to doing it,” says Gardener.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for me. I was thinking I should get out there and get aerobically fitter. I’m nowhere near as fit as I’d like to be, probably like 90% of the population. Having this opportunity to be a Duracell pacer is one I’m looking forward to.”

Jason Gardener will be pacing the Great Manchester Run this weekend, undertaking the Duracell Bunny Challenge to go for longer. Follow @DuracellUK on Twitter to see if Jason can go from 100m to 10K

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Nick Harris-Fry
Senior writer

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.