That’s a really difficult question (as is your original one), and has got me thinking now. I’m trying to draw out reflections on my own situation that may or may not be helpful (if only for comparison/alternative viewpoint) as well as some tips. I seem to have a real split personality. A number of aspects of my life, including what i would say is me ‘generally’ i’m super lazy. I avoid conflict, i look for the path of least resistance and i’m really not particularly motivated. But when it comes to sport, it’s like a switch just gets flicked in my head. I can’t explain it all. All of a sudden i’m direct, focussed and can be pretty motivated, but it’s time limited. By that i mean i can and have struggled to maintain the discipline and focus and motivation on a long planned race build for example, missing sessions and getting frustrated. But when it comes to race day i’m super happy to put myself in the hurt locker. Was the same as a kid on the footy pitch. Wasn’t the most talented, but was nearly only the one still sprinting for lost causes in the 89th minute.
I think maturity and a growing comfort in who i am has led me to being much more flexible on my training approach. I don’t set x kms per week, y sessions etc because i know i’ll get frustrated by not hitting them. So instead i have a rough outline of what a training block will look like and i keep it very flexible. This way i don’t get into that negative spiral of ‘well i’ve mossed these three sessions, so i’ll never be ready, so i may as well not bother with my remaining 5’ type thing.
I’d say motivation is the driving factor to completion of the said events. Do you want it enough, like really want it. Clearly you’re a motivated and talented endurance athlete. You simply woul’dn’t have entered and completed that many events if yiou weren’t. Perhaps there are too many races/challenges, which has had the effect of diminishing the worth which you assign each one. So that way ‘failure’ or a DNF doesn’t really mean anything. So that external pressure that drives you to compete and finish just gets weaker. An obvikous way around is aiming for fewer events, but maybe not the ‘all eggs in one basket’ as that creates its own issues.
As for will power, that can definitely be trained. Before any of my big ultras for example i will go and do one session that is an absolute suffer fest. Horrible weather, reps, hills, night time. Whatever. But i’ll do it alone. I’ll have a rough target, but overall it’s just to suffer. That way, when it comes to race day, i’ve got that one session to reflect back on when it’s getting tough.
What i can’t isolate is what drives me to complete those sessions. Especially when i’ve done challenges, like the triple VK i did last year, that have no real purpose (like a race) other than just seeing if i can. I guess if i’m being honest there’s got to be some ego related stuff going on. Both internally and externally amongst my friends. Maybe you’re too nice and friendly and laid back and you need more of an ego taht can get wounded by not finishing, to give you that extra drive. I think there may actually be a serious point in that sentence somewhere.
That’s a bit of a brain dump, and don’t know if that helps at all. But i agree with pretty much everything that’s stated above.