Posted On:
Tuesday, April 20, 2021
Updated On:
Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Coach Tip Tuesday: Consider The Joyful Factor

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A Joyful Rating Scale using a range of "smiley" faces - ranging from angry ones to very happy ones.

Coach Tip Tuesday has come around again!

When you complete a workout, what do you think about?  What are the first thoughts that come into your mind?

Better still: BEFORE a workout, what do you think about? What are the first thoughts that come into your mind?

Workouts are so much more than the physical work that we put into them.  Yes, they are a manifestation of the physical work.  But more importantly, they are a manifestation of what is going on in our brains.  As you well know, the brain controls EVERYTHING in the human body.  So it stands to reason that ALL information in the brain can impact a workout, not just the portions of the brain that control our physical selves - the heart, lungs, and muscles.  Yes, indeed, the thoughts we think are part of a workout too.

As you likely know by now, I am a very big proponent of maintaining a training log that contains details and notes about your workouts. I’ve written several posts about what makes a training log effective and what you should include in it. This week, however, I want to encourage you to consider adding one small (but significant) element to your training logs:

Consider The Joyful Factor.

You know that I have encouraged you all to choose joy because it IS possible to make that choice. As we’ve discussed previously, we need to be mindful about what we tell ourselves because we are ALWAYS listening. So it makes sense that we should incorporate some mindfulness in our post-workout reflections about exactly how joyful a particular activity was.

99% of you reading this participate in endurance sports as a recreational activity.  Since words are important, let’s remind ourselves of the definition of “recreational:”

Relating to or denoting activity done for enjoyment when one is not working.

ENJOYMENT. That’s right, folks. We’re meant to ENJOY this. If it’s not fun, why do it?

This is where The Joyful Factor comes in.  Simply taking the couple of seconds it takes to note how much joy a particular activity brought you can remind you of why you are doing this in the first place.  It can also help spur on your motivation to keep it up.  Being mindful of how joyful we are actually feeling is a tremendous way to counteract the negative emotions or sensations we may experience over the course of a given workout or day.

However, if you notice that you are ranking low on The Joyful Factor, do not despair.  This is just as valuable to know.  This tells you that some changes in your routine might be really useful, that making changes might drive your Joyful Factor up.  Alternatively, this could make you self-aware of the fact that you might benefit from incorporating a mindfulness practice into your training and overall life, as increased mindfulness can lead to feelings of empathy, gratitude, and joy.

Workouts are more than the miles covered, pounds lifted, or muscles used.  They are a full manifestation of our complete selves - thoughts and all.  As such, focusing on ALL emotions that we feel as part of a workout is a very valuable thing.

I challenge each of you this week to write down (on a scale of 1-5 or 1-10) where a workout or session falls on The Joyful Factor Scale. Remember that JOY is likely the very reason you got into all of this in the first place. Therefore, a constant awareness of how joyful you feel is so very important. Consider The Joyful Factor in all that you do for your recreational activities. :)


Coach Laura Henry

Laura Henry is a Syracuse, NY-based coach who is a USA Triathlon Level II Long Course and Level II Paratriathlon Certified Coach, USA Cycling Level 2 Certified Coach, VFS Certified Bike Fitter, and has successfully completed NASM's Certified Personal Trainer course. Coach Laura is passionate about helping athletes of all ability levels reach their goals and has coached many athletes to success.

She can be reached at

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