Going Mental

Ahh. Taper time. That magical time when your brain actually has enough glycogen to function at a slightly higher level and goes spinning off in all sorts of fun directions!

It really is amazing to me how dumb one gets during a big training block… E-mails are an epic chore, planning for anything other than the next meal or training session is far too taxing, and conversation involves expressing basic needs – “water bottle please” – in truncated sentences to my husband (who, fortunately, can read my mind most of the time anyway!).

Now that the training volume has wound down a bit in the lead up to Ironman St. George I find myself thinking a lot about the mental aspects of racing, and of staying cool leading up to the race.  Race week is always busy with final preparations, training and things like: an autograph signing meet and greet (Tues May 3rd, 11am -1pm at Perks! Espresso and Smoothies 1515 W. Sunset Blvd.), a radio interview (4:20 Wednesday, May 4th on Radio 1210 AM ESPN in St. George), the Ironman Press Panel and TV interviews (Thursday from 11am – ??)…

It is key to not let these fun, positive things – that are all part of being a successful pro triathlete – drain your energy or take on a negative connotation because of ones own internal stress about.. whatever.

If I forget how to properly chill, I just look to our cat Manah for an example!

Having won the race last year, there is also an added element of pressure to perform and “defend my title”.  So what do I do? First, I turn around “defending” to something much more positive and empowering. I get on the offensive!  I spend a lot of time lying around with my eyes closed, thinking positive thoughts. Ha ha.

Seriously though, this lying around, sitting outside, thinking business is good stuff. Sometimes not thinking and just being can be even better. Tricky, but worth the effort.

See, the greatest barriers to our pursuit of excellence are often psychological barriers that we impose on ourselves, often without even realizing it. No matter how you have viewed yourself in the past, you are not obligated to keep viewing yourself in the same light!

Your thoughts are within your control. Your focus is within your control. Your focus leads your confidence, your perspective, and your performance. If you focus on failure, you become stressed. If you focus on errors, they are yours. If you focus on strengths you are strong. If you focus on why you can and how you will, your confidence grows. If you focus on the doing, the doing will become your reality.**

Of course I sometimes have visions of my race day going horribly – feeling miserable, getting a flat… and I deal with this in one of two ways. 1) I mentally reherse what I will do if this bad thing happens so I am better able to roll with it on race day or 2) I imagine the negative thoughts bubbling away on my stream of consciousness. Okay, I thought that, now the thought is gone. No dwelling.

Remember toughing out those hard training days to get through dark times on race-day

It think that one of the most important things to do when you are feeling pressure is to shift your focus to right now. Be in the moment. Focus fully on the doing and the results will take care of themselves. You may want a good result more than anything, but you don’t have to focus on worrying about the outcome. Trust your preparation, trust your body and just let it happen.

** pretty much anything profound in this blog has likely been paraphrased from Terry Orlick’s “In Pursuit of Excellence” 4th Edition. If you are my competition, I urge you not to read this book 🙂

~ by trevorandheather on April 29, 2011.

One Response to “Going Mental”

  1. way to go heather!! you are amazing and it was fun to watch you as you whizzed pass me in t1. awesome victory. and thanks for your thoughts. can’t wait to see you race agian.

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