There are two types of athletes:
1) Those whose bodies will quit long before their head does.
2) Those who’s heads will keep them from reaching their potential.
Be honest with yourself – Which one are you?
Do you make it to the finish line tired and worn out, but knowing that you had more to give? Or are you more of a Lionel Sanders completely trashed barely making it across the finish line but with nothing left in the tank?
The Good News is that implementing mental strategies can be a wealth of untapped potential in your triathlon training if its not something you have tapped into before. Your body will take you far, but the head will take you even further. From my years of triathlon and cycling coaching and my own training and racing I’ve seen the drastic improvement mental training can yield in athletes of all ability levels.
Sure, it’s challenging, but with the right mindset, you’ll conquer every swim, bike, and run that comes your way. So let’s talk mental toughness, because trust me, it’s just as important as those muscles of yours.
Here’s how to whip your brain with some mental fitness for the ultimate race day performance:
- Picture this: Close your eyes and see yourself crushing that race, crossing the finish line, and basking in the glory of your goals. Visualization is your secret weapon to staying focused and motivated. Make that image so clear in your mind that you can practically taste it, so much that you can tap into it when the race is getting hard, when that voice in your head is telling you its too early to get up for that morning session.
- Pump up the positivity: Positive self-talk is like a mental pep rally. Use affirmations to boost your confidence and remind yourself of your superhero-like strengths when things get tough. Don’t leave this to race day though. In your training and hard sessions find a mantra or positive self talk that helps you push harder. Recognize the negativity your head feeds you when things get uncomfortable and practise those tools to quiet that annoying voice telling you it’s too hard because you do have more to give.
- Go for gold: Set realistic goals that are specific, measurable, and achievable to keep you motivated and focused. Let them be your guiding star through training and racing.
- Embrace the suck: As Macca would say. Triathlons can be downright uncomfortable, but leaning into the discomfort makes you stronger. It sounds impossible but practise relaxing into the discomfort in hard sessions. Don’t fight against it, accept that it’s hard, don’t tense up and fight it, relax your upper body and lean into it. Remember, it’s just temporary, and you’ll come out on the other side stronger.
- Be here now: To master mental toughness, stay present and in the moment. Forget past failures or future worries – focus on the task at hand and the mini-goals you need to reach.
And now for the pièce de résistance: mental strategy exercises! Try these on for size:
- Fast Finish Runs or Rides: Pushing the last few miles when your body is tired and worn out, proving to yourself you can speed up even when it feels impossible in the moment gets you out of your comfort zone and helps you build mental toughness. Power through the discomfort like a boss! Here is a great article on how to execute this workout effectively – Fast Finish Runs
- Gratitude practice: Focusing on what you’re grateful for can help shift your perspective during tough moments in a race. Regularly take time to reflect on the positive aspects of your training, your support system, and your progress. This gratitude mindset can boost your motivation and help you stay resilient during difficult moments in a triathlon
- Exposure to challenging conditions: Many athletes take to Zwift any time the weather turns. Train in a variety of weather conditions and environments to simulate the unpredictability of race day. By intentionally exposing yourself to different situations, like strong winds or hot temperatures, you’ll build mental toughness and be better prepared to adapt to whatever the race throws at you.
- Visualization exercises: It’s so good I’m going to mention it twice, but in a new way. It’s great to picture a perfect race day and smiling as you cross that finish line. BUT you also need to visualize when things go wrong. Think about how you will react race day when things go sideways, if you get a flat or drop your nutrition and strategies to overcome those challenges. Triathlon’s are long days out especially as endurance triathletes get into Ironman distance, odds are it’s not going to go perfectly. Amp up your mental game by picturing yourself overcoming obstacles and pushing through the pain. You’ve got this!
So there you have it! Physical strength and fitness are one thing but mental toughness is the key to unlocking your full triathlon potential, and with these tools and techniques, you’ll be ready to tackle even the most gruelling challenges and take on that start line.
Remember, when the going gets tough, think about why you started and dig deep – you’ve got this!
And to leave you with a little extra motivation: “When you feel like quitting, think about why you started.” Now go get ’em.
If you want to level up your training and racing with custom training written for you based on your strengths, weaknesses, and time you have available to train, send me a message below to learn more about custom coaching options.