Motivation is the driving force which helps us to achieve our goals and succeed. It is related to, but distinct from emotion. Motivation comes in two forms, intrinsic or extrinsic. People often have different motivations for continuing or beginning exercise.
Intrinsic motivation is motivation that is driven by an interest or enjoyment in the task itself. It exists within the individual rather than relying on external pressure. Intrinsic motivation is your natural desire to achieve something. If you are driven to compete or achieve something without any prize or reward amply because you enjoy the challenge of it, this is intrinsic motivation.
Extrinsic motivation comes from outside of the individual. Common extrinsic motivations are rewards like money. Competition is in general extrinsic because it encourages the performer to win and beat others, not to enjoy the intrinsic rewards of the activity. A crowd cheering on the individual and trophies are also extrinsic incentives.
It is important to understand your motivation, whether it is intrinsic or extrinsic as this can help with setting goals and the way you go about achieving them. For example if your motivation for exercising is extrinsic you are more likely to compete in fun runs and triathlons in order to receive prizes and trophies. An individual who is exercising for intrinsic factors would be more likely to go out for runs on their own.
Arousal is another factor to be considered when looking at motivation. Arousal is your level of excitement and readiness to perform. Arousal can have positive and negative effects on your performance. Your performance will be best at an optimum level of arousal. After this level, performance gets worse as you become anxious and nervous.
This is a graph which demonstrates this theory. It is called the Inverted U theory as it looks like an upside-down U!
It is important to understand your motivation to exercise as this will help with your goal setting and the way you go about achieving these. During exercise it is important to make sure your arousal level is optimum to ensure you perform at your best.