Much more about motivation in later posts, but I came across this nugget today from a July 2009 article in Nature by Kielan Yarrow:
“…the big question in sport is the nature of the motivation underlying the thousands of hours of practise (sic) required to achieve elite status. There is evidence to suggest that those who practise the most enjoy it the least, which might reflect their awareness of the real goal of practise: to get better at what you are doing rather than enjoy it through the experience of short-term reward. Thus, the best athletes may be the ones who are most goal directed in terms of the ‘total sum of future rewards’ with future rewards receiving the highest weighting.”
So the best athletes may have the clearest vision of themselves in the future, reaching their goal and this imagined future motivates them to put in the hours of boring practice it takes to be the best.