Motivation vs. Discipline

Life in the Bike Lane

Tom Frady


I am famously (or is it derisively?) known to keep charts on stuff. I like to watch the lines in a chart grow and change over time. It’s motivational for me. After our bike rides, we stop at our local café for refreshments and debriefing. I live one half mile away, but will take “the long way home”, adding one to five miles to a ride to be sure I ride for at least 50 miles, because 50 looks better on my (motivational) chart than 49. I have many rides that were 50.02 miles long.


Actually, it is easy for me to be motivated to take a ride. Any ride. However, it takes some discipline to get to the gym or some (OK, a lot) for me to lose a little weight.

Before we get too far into this, understand I don’t really know what I’m talking about. But here are the definitions I’m using: Motivation is trying to feel like doing something. Discipline is actually doing it, even if you don’t want to.


They’re called “motivational speakers”, not “disciplinarial speakers” (I made up that word, according to spellcheck). That poster showing a kitten dangling by one toe nail at the end of a rope with the caption “Hang in There” is motivational. It doesn’t tell you how to “hang in there”.


Complicated training schemes cater to discipline. I think I have written before (I’m not motivated to go to the archives to check) I don’t follow any training scheme when I am getting ready for an epic ride. I just ride more. I was reading in a cycling magazine about “interval training” and how it can make you faster. I don’t doubt it can. The schedule was to ride all-out for one minute and fifteen seconds, recover for 4:45, then ride for 1:05, recover for 4:35, ride for 55 seconds, then recover for 4:25, then . . . sheesh.

How about ride all-out for a minute, recover for 4 minutes? Repeat.


This does not mean one should never have a plan to achieve a goal. But know what kind of discipline it takes to motivate you. I don’t like complicated training schemes or complicated diets. “Ride more, eat less” is my mantra.


We need both windows and mirrors in our lives. Windows to see where we can go and where we’ve been. Mirrors to see ourselves and what we need to do to get to where we want to be. When fatigue, frustration or failure creep into the speeches you make to yourself, you can rely on discipline to get you moving again.

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