January 01, 2011

Motivation - Featured Writer Sigrid Ziegler

Motivation - Featured Writer Sigrid Ziegler

Lots of people ask me where my motivation comes from to do what I do. I never have a good answer, but recently I started thinking about it. I've been an athlete since I was very young, and today I am a competitive cyclist. I think with every sport transition my motivation changed and that was actually why I changed sports. I started in Track and Field, likely as a baby, became a speed skater when I was 18 and at 24 became a cyclist. I don't remember much about Track because I was so young, but I was in the programme because I was good at it and I won a lot. I don't think I needed a lot of motivation. Eventually though I hit puberty and I couldn't run a race to save my life. I struggled through it and training was the only thing I knew how to do. It didn't help me get results though. It wasn't fun, I couldn't win and I hit a point where I realised, I'm never going to win an Olympic medal at this. So I quit.
Six months later I became a speed skater. I didn't do this because I loved skating or the idea of speed skating. I did this because it looked hard, not a lot of people do it, and with my work ethic, I knew I could be successful. In 2002, I figured, in 6 years I'd be a World Champion and maybe I could even go to the olympics in 2006. So I trained. I trained my butt off for 25-30h a week in a sport I had never even done, for 6 months. At that point I started looking for an ice club to go to, when I discovered there are no Long Track Ovals in Toronto! I figured I must be missing something and made a trip to the Toronto INLINE Speed Skating Club to ask them where the ice is. This is how I became an inline speed skater, because truly there was no ice outside of Calgary at the time.

I excelled quickly because I worked hard. My biggest problem was that I couldn't skate before 2002 and I had a lot to learn about technique. It was easy to have fun when you're getting better and winning. I made the World Team in 2005 and competed in my first Worlds. That's where I realised that I had been fueled by negative motivation. I wanted to beat everyone around me instead of meeting my goals. My goal was to be a world champion, but I didn't care what sport as long as I beat everyone. My club and training group were a fairly negative influence in that respect and the boys in the group always riled up the girls against each other. I wasn't well liked and the women especially resented that I was faster than them in such a short time. I was training more than them so it was going to happen no matter what. I started to realise the situation I was in was destructive but I just couldn't seem to change my attitude. I attended another World Championship the following year and was given a contract to a Professional World Inline Cup (WIC) Team. I moved to Switzerland in spring 2007 for what I thought would be my break through year. I was the first Canadian woman on a WIC Team that contested all the races in the world. I got to fly to Asia several times! It was the experience of a lifetime, but I had this large chip on my shoulder. I was there to prove that I was better and faster, that I was the Canadian who could make it and that by finally having a coach, I'd be a world champion. I was told if I come top 20 in a WIC race in my first WIC season, that's a big accomplishment. I placed 19th in the first race. In Seoul, Korea on April 2nd, 2007 was the last time I had raced without expectations.
Every start line I stood on after that felt worse than the last. I didn't do well in my 2nd race and in my 3rd race I thought, "I can't mess this up like the 2nd race". In the 4th race I thought, "ok two bad ones, shrug it off. You can do this!" and season continued on without another top 20, not even a top 40. I was demoralized and my coach was questioning why I wasn't performing, since I did so well in Seoul. What could possibly be the matter? I was embarrassed, scared of getting yelled at after the races and I just wanted so badly to prove to everyone that I was capable. That I would be a world champion in 2009. I set that date after arriving in Switzerland because everyone who goes to the WIC gets good and 2009 Worlds would be in Switzerland. That would be almost like a home event by then. I thought I'd get better just by association I guess.

I got better, a lot. But it was never enough. I felt pressured and I blamed everyone. One day it hit me. What he hell am I doing here? I gave up my life in Canada, my job as a research analyst, this sport ruined my relationship and I don't even like it! I am effectively, in my opinion, one of the worst "World Class" skaters and can't possibly be expected to win! By pressuring me and yelling at me, I'm not going to get better because I had that negativity for 5 years in Canada before I ever became a Pro. So I quit. I realised that I hated this environment, and I hated the person I had become. I hated that I looked at every girl who came to the skate track with a magnifying glass to see if she could beat me, or if she didn't like me, because nobody ever likes you in skating. I had so much baggage from "failing" at track and field and then growing up in a negative sport that I was never going to succeed. I just didn't know it.

I left speed skating at the end of my last WIC race that year and 4 weeks later won a bike race in Germany. The most important thing I remember is that I had so much fun riding my bike that I didn't care what place I got. I got dropped on a hill and was so happy that I was on my bike instead of skates that I chased and chased. I caught up and I won. If that was a skating race, I would have dropped out after getting gapped on a hill. I changed my sport overnight, and I promised that I would never be negative again. It wasn't easy. I came back to Canada and made the obligatory appearance at the skating track, only to be interrogated about what my list of excuses was for not winning a WIC race. I said, "I've never won a marathon road race in Canada against you guys, and you thought I was going to win a World Cup race? Are you nuts? I'm happy with how I did there". There they had it, I was happy with my one top 20 finish and I didn't even win?! It didn't take long for the gossip and trash talk to start, but for the first time in my life I didn't care. In truth, I was very happy with my race in Seoul, but it took me a long time to see that because I never stopped to take it in. I was too focused on the bad things.

I joined a cycling team, started climbing the ranks slowly and learning that cycling is the hardest sport I've ever done. Sometimes I regretted that I had been riding since the age of 5 and never raced until almost 20 years later, but I know that with my attitude, I wouldn't have been ready. I reminded myself that I love to ride and that it's a gift. My speed skating coach in Switzerland used to say, "in the WIC, you're on hidin' to nothin'. Everyone's watching." I couldn't fake it and I couldn't lie about why I placed badly, the way I was expected to in Canada like everyone else. Cycling is like that. You either have it or you don't, it's very simple. The thing is, you can't possibly perform every day of your life, and I learned that the hard way. Sometimes you just show up and give everything you have and it doesn't matter where you finish. As long as I give everything, I'm happy.

I feel like 20 years have passed between my experience in Switzerland and today, but it's only been 3 years. I learned what positive motivation is. I ride so that I can feel that small daily success of achieving my goal. My world title wasn't going to happen overnight, and I wasn't ready to put the work in. After reflecting on it, I can very honestly say that aside from the mental blocks, I was not going to be a world champion speed skater because I simply didn't work hard enough. I don't know whether it was the influence of the others, or that I was just crazy in thinking that was enough training to be a world champion. Today, I train an average of 40h a week and most of the time I'm completely exhausted. I am still trying to win a world title, but the difference is, I enjoy the journey. I love that after a really gruelling training session, I get to log it in my journal. I love that at the end of the week I get to see the big number of hours that I rode. I hardly ever have personal bests these days because it takes so much more to achieve them. For me, it's a personal best to make it through the week, complete all the training and tick another week off. I take satisfaction in knowing that I didn't skip any training because only now do I truly understand how valuable it is and how hard it really is to be a world class athlete. There are no short cuts. It took me a long time to understand what Greg LeMond meant when he said "It never gets easier, you only go faster". I do understand that now, but I actually think it's gets harder. The faster I get, the harder I work and I push myself so much more than I thought was possible.

One of my Elite Men Teammates was on a training session with me a week ago and he talked me into doing a few more hill reps than I had to or wanted to. He said "If you wanna win, you gotta do one more!" So I did. He said that 3 times. At the end I asked, "Does this ever get easier?" and he smiled and said "Nope!"

1 comment:

Dawn said...

What a GREAT and Inspirational post!!!!!!!
A wonderful history you have in these sports- and wow how far you have come! (And are going!!!!!)
Thanks for this read....you made me want to hop on my bike once again....

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


Welcome to a new attitude in women's cycling and a first in women's specific titanium and steel custom bikes. We know females....because we are females. All women share a common interest. We want to feel comfortable, confident, and strong on our bikes. We also want to look good while riding hard. At Bellarosa we build bikes to fit you using only the finest materials. Our bikes our built in house one at a time from start to finish. 100% handbuilt in the U.S.A. So guess what? We no longer have to ride boy bikes. It's alright to want to ride a bike designed specifically for you. At Bellarosa we can build your dreams.

Map my RIDE

Bike Maintenance Clinic 101

Bike Maintenance Clinic 101
Coming Soon

Cycling Class

Bella Rosa Cyling Class
In the area? Come spin with us.

Monday - 5:45 a.m.

Wednesday - 5:45 a.m.

Search This Blog