Increasing your mental strength will pay dividends – not only in your triathlon and running but in life in general as well. You might have heard of the ’10-minute rule’ to determine between a bad mindset or a bad day – if you start your workout and 10-minutes later you still can’t get into it, you should let yourself call it a day. When you first take up triathlon or running, what gets you out the door is sheer enjoyment. It’s this that motivates you to complete your first race (and fans the desire to target your second and third…) and gives you the immense satisfaction of putting a hard-earned tick next to ‘goal’ in your training plan.
As you become more experienced and begin to get an idea of your potential, you may start wondering if it might be worth complementing your physical training with exercises to strengthen your mind. In long-distance events, the importance of your state of mind in determining the outcome of a race can’t be overestimated. Exploring ways of lifting yourself to the next level by increasing your mental strength and, in the process, greatly building your confidence will pay dividends – not only in terms of your triathlon and running performance but in life in general, as well.
Optimise Your Performance
You will no doubt have read a lot about cognitive strategies in sport, but far from focusing on the race at hand, less experienced endurance athletes try to distract themselves with thoughts that take their minds off their tiredness. This can mean, however, that they are less aware of how their bodies are performing. On the other hand, more experienced athletes do the opposite: they try to stay in the moment, focusing on performing as effortlessly as possible. They do everything they can to conserve energy and maintain efficiency, such as running lightly on their feet rather than pounding the ground hard, and constantly riffling through a checklist of how their body is coping. Using running as an example: unclenching hands and fingers; monitoring footstrike and stride pattern; firing up the glutes properly; ensuring that the arms are swinging forwards and backwards, rather than from side to side; maintaining awareness of hydration levels; observing breathing patterns; working out split times; watching competitors and even counting in your head to determine where you are within each km/mile.
This is something that the British runner Paula Radcliffe uses as a means of focusing on where she was within each grass/road rep that was run to time rather than marked distance. she found it helped her to judge and pace herself. She learned that breaking each mile down worked well for her. Paula says “For half to full marathon pace, counting three times to 100 roughly equates to a mile: this technique helps me focus on where I am within each mile of the race and has become my technique for anchoring my concentration. I use it to truly stay in the moment.”
What techniques do you use to stay in the moment?
Stuart has competed in triathlons from Sprint to Ironman distance. As a qualified Triathlon Australia, Australian Athletics Run Coach, and a certified Ironman coach, he is aware of the importance of balancing training with lifestyle, thus complementing other important aspects of an athlete’s life (family, work, study commitments, etc.).
Contact Stuart at firstname.lastname@example.org
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