Mind training triathlon- really? Isn’t that just for golfers?
Look, you are already an awesome athlete. You are far fitter than most of your peers and ALL of your work colleagues (though often that’s not hard!) It is when you get to a race that the rubber hits the road though –right?
Suddenly you are no longer the fittest person in the room. You are surrounded by awesome people on the start line who ALL get out of bed early, eat well, do their flexibility work and strengthen their core.
Sure you are good! But could you be great? How many more hours do you have to put into training?
You just need to change what you think about.
Your quickest way to success is through the mind
70% of success in any endeavour- sport, business, life is between the ears. It is what you think about, how you talk to yourself and how you interpret what happens to you.
This is SO relevant to triathlon.
What if you had Achilles pain and needed 3 months off last year? What was your self-talk? For the majority of people it goes something like this…
“Why does this happen to me?
It’s not fair! I’m so angry
I knew I should not have done that final sprint”
Mind Training Triathlon Diagnosis
As I coach I can very often tell an athlete’s performance will be like from spending 5 minutes watching them train.
Here are common things I see:
Think about your own training, and see if you can see yourself in any of these.
Don’t worry- please don’t raise your hand…
- Those who shake their head and sigh in defeat when I describe the session we are about to do.
- Those who “fail” at a drill and slump their shoulders, disengage and halve their effort level
- Those who turn up late and leave early
- Those regularly eat junk food then complain to anyone who will listen that they cannot lose weight
- Those who mess up a race then have a long story about why this always happens to them or why it was someone else’s fault
- Those who try to sneak a look at me when they are doing laps of a pool or a track to see if I am watching and see if they can skip one and I wont notice
Trust me-I will coach you to the best of my ability with love, with passion and encourage you to believe in yourself and dream bigger… but only you can change how you talk to yourself…
Triathlon often involves a long time racing or training by yourself-under time pressure, under peer pressure, under self-criticism. In this sport, more than many others, it is SO important to improve your mental chatter.
Most triathletes, in my opinion, only achieve 35% of what they are physically capable of due to negative patterns of body language and self-talk. The sad thing is, most people do genuinely want to improve but they are completely unaware of what they are doing to themselves.
It does perplex me!
Many people are so scared of failure, they are already shaking their head in defeat before they have even tried.
Look I will continue to encourage support and dig deep to squeeze even inch of unstoppable self-belief out of an athlete, but I cannot do it for them. Mind training in triathlon does not take much time, just awareness and application.
Mind Training Triathlon Exercise
Pay attention to your self-talk. What do you habitually say to yourself? Pay particular attention to what you say to yourself when you are tired at the end of a session or you are super hungry as you came to training straight from a busy day at work.
Make sure you write it down in your training journal and observe the patterns over a few weeks.
The mind and body are more connected than we realize.
For example: If you are at training, then sigh and groan and wish you weren’t there, how likely is it that you will have an incredible break through and make a giant leap forward?
But if you turn up with a spring in your step, a huge smile and abundant energy and excitement about what you are about to achieve in the next 60 minutes, it is likely you will get a far greater result.
Look, if you have already made the decision already to get out of bed at 5am and head to the pool or get up early for a 2 hour ride on a Saturday morning, you may as well get the best result you can for that time invested.
If your mind is positive, enthusiastic and eager to improve, you have a far better chance of achieving this if you are tell yourself that you feel strong, remind yourself often to engage your core and get your technique right, rather than if you are continually checking your watch, hating every minute and wishing you were still in bed…
Fake it until you make it!
Body language is so important. Even if you do feel tired- shake it off and throw yourself into the session and get the most out of it. Even if you are hungry, you will not die from a 1-hour delay in getting fed. Besides the whole point of training is getting used to some discomfort and carrying on anyway.
Open your chest, set your shoulders back, walk like you have plenty of energy (even if you do not feel like it), breathe deeply, walk like a warrior, like a leader, even if you do not feel like this yet.
Remind yourself before every training session to switch into warrior/leader/positive mode.
Life is full of challenges and obstacles for all of us. Do not let yourself be the biggest obstacle…
Stop muttering under your breath. “This sucks, I am a terrible athlete this will be an awful training sessions, I will never be any good at swimming…..”
Stop sighing, groaning, cursing – you know who you are….
Watch your body language and posture.
Even if you had a bad day at work, even if you have issues at home, for that 1-2 hours at training, this is your time. Keep your focus on the present and what you CAN do, not what you can’t do.
Think about what you are doing and improving every movement by 1%. Keep checking your breathing. Relax, practice getting in the zone.
Mental strength takes practice. Mental toughness does not just arrive in the post one day. You develop it over time. It does not appear when you decide to skip the hill session that was on your program (again!).
If you want to get better, stop internally destroying your performances Make every step of the run perfect, every pedal revolution, every swim stroke.
Even if you don’t feel like it
Mind Training Triathlon: What Happens When I Mess Up?
Sure there will be times when you don’t achieve what you did last week. Learn from it. Do not beat yourself up, Quit reinforcing the story of “I always do this… I’m no good”.
This gets very boring!
Progress is never linear. You will go up and down, week to week, you may plateau for a few weeks- this is normal. Allow yourself to make mistakes in training. Try new things out. Push yourself a little harder than you think you can- you may surprise yourself. If your mind drifts, bring it back as soon as you aware of it,.
It is in training where you practice and develop mental toughness…. Do not wait until race day.
If you have indulged in 950 hours of beating yourself up and half hearted performances in training all season, how likely is it that you will be able to do a superhero performance on race day…. ?
The first step is awareness.
Make a mental note of what you say to yourself when you head to training, when you start to feel the burn, when you are getting tired… Come home and write this stuff down.
Then create 2-3 phrases to tell yourself. Some people call them affirmations – yes this might sound silly. It will feel awkward and unnatural at first. This does not matter. You need to replace the “natural” negative chatter asap. Here are some examples of positive affirmations you could tell yourself if you need some ideas.
Do not frown if something is difficult. Try instead to think with curiosity “mmm-how can I do this better?”
Try to remember a couple of these affirmations throughout the day. Keep inputting strong messages of achievement and success.
Do Not Live In The Past
I do not care if your kindergarten teacher told you that you were no good at sports, or you did not get picked for the 10yr old baseball team.
That no longer matters! Get over it!
Now YOU decide….
So what it going to be?
Get your brain and body in sync. Tell yourself every day you are great. Then walk like it and talk like it.
Negative chatter is simply a habit, a BAD habit…. Get rid of it and practice a better, empowering habit.
There is a ton of research proving the mind body connection. There is ton of research that improving your self-talk is a vital and important skill in improving performance. Most sports stars employ mind coaches. Many triathletes credit mind training triathlon with helping them go from good to great.
If you would like a program to help guide you through specific mind training sessions, this awesome program is triathlon specific and is far cheaper than hiring a mind coach. Plus you can listen to it again and again until you have reprogrammed a new habit.
For myself, I find it does require repetition to really embed this new way of thinking. Just reading about it and understanding it, does not create a new habit. It requires practice and focus. 21 days…. thats all!
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