More than anything, triathlons are a mental challenge. Challenges of whether your mind can ignore the fatigue. Can it overcome the pain and push to excel? Triathlons are a puzzle comprised of myriad elements — including a body that can be pushed as far as the mind is willing to take it.
So how do you conquer the mental part of triathlons?
The biggest part of this is overcoming “I can’t”. And the “I’m too tired”. And the “My body is going to give out”. Okay, once in awhile during training (hopefully not during a race!) your body may need to completely stop. To cut the workout short. And that’s normal. But it is important to learn to train your mind to tell yourself that you can. Even in the most difficult parts of the race.
One of the biggest obstacles in triathlon — an obstacle that once conquered, does not disappear in the next race or training session — is training your mind to be in sync — rather above — your body. To teach it to not say “no”.
This takes practice. And can be a challenge even after years and years of racing and training. One of the biggest and most important parts of this is to focus on yourself. Focus on your race. How far you can push yourself. Yes, with this can come a fiery competitive spirit, one that can trigger pushing oneself to passing someone up a hill, or before the finish line. But focusing too much energy on others’ performance and not enough on how you can improve your own, especially during an important race, can inhibit peak results.
There is no one “quick fix” to conquering the mental part of triathlons. It’s a process. Something that is slightly different for everyone. But it’s something that needs focus. Needs its own training. Dig deep, and figure out what pushes you. What is going to take you up that final hill? To find that extra, deep-seated spark of strength to get that PR? Whether this is a multitude of elements or something simple, finding your impetus to your racing — what drives you — is an integral part of having a successful race.
Maybe it’s getting in the zone. Diving deep into the blankness that can settle around the mind during long and/or intense workouts. Maybe it’s thinking of the things deep within you — within the corners of your mind, the pockets of thoughts that you usually keep tucked away — that anger you. That upset you. Or, even the things in your life that make you smile.
Using any of these thoughts — the happy ones, the angry ones, the blank ones — can be that extra force. That extra push that you need.
Maybe you need to set a routine. Where you listen to certain motivational songs leading up to a race, read certain motivational quotes beforehand, think about certain things during a race. Or maybe you like spontaneity. Seeing where the race takes you.
Test what works for you. And use it. Use it to excel. There’s no right or wrong way to attack the mental portion of the triathlon — but you do need to address it. For ignoring it can bring a mental blockage and problems come race day. Find what drives you. What angers you. What makes you the happiest. Find your way to get “in the zone”. It makes a world of a difference come race day.
What do you do to conquer the mental portion of triathlons?