Want to get FASTER? Want to set a new Personal Record? Feel like you are working hard, but just can’t seem to reach your potential? You KNOW you have more in you…but, you just don’t know HOW to tap into that extra bit of speed? Just dying to beat your neighbor, friend, brother, sister, nemesis….but, they always seem to inch past you and finish first? Ever considered that it’s not your body that’s your limiting factor, but your BRAIN? Perhaps your limiter is not just speed or endurance, but rather what is going on inside your head as you are swimming, biking and running.
Far too many triathletes spend countless hours training their bodies to get fitter, faster and stronger and yet do virtually NOTHING to improve their most valuable asset….their mental strength. Your mind is the master control for EVERYTHING your body does. Learn how to train the mind to maintain control and focus through even the most challenging training and racing, and you will tap into a power that will catapult you into a whole new level of triathlon success.
"ASICS was onto something when it chose its name, a Latin abbreviation for ‘a sound mind in a sound body.’ This philosophy is the key to unlocking all the potential we hold. From my first race in junior high gym class to competing in the 2008 Olympic Marathon, I have found that the stronger my mind and spirit are, the further I am able to push myself. Any runner interested in maximizing potential must study the mind-body connection or their journey will not be complete.” — Ryan Hall, 2008 Olympian and two-time American record holder
To improve your mental strength and attain your PEAK athletic performance, the following are four skills to develop:
Confidence: Believe in yourself and in your abilities! Put in the training, proper nutrition, recovery and effort to ensure your body is prepared and then BELIEVE in yourself. Far too many athletes doubt themselves and their preparation when they are toeing the start line. Two identical athletes with the same training and ability will perform completely differently based on their confidence in themselves. Be the quietly confident athlete that envisions themselves crossing the finish line and reaching their goals.
Motivation: Choose goals and events that inspire and empower you! During a race, create smaller goals that will motivate you. On the swim you could focus on thirty strokes with a high elbow on the catch. Then the next thirty strokes focused on a powerful finish on the stroke. Next thirty strokes on rotation, etc. Small goals during a race will motivate you and keep you moving forward. On the bike you could focus on maintaining a high cadence for the next minute. Then spend the next minute on ensuring you are ‘lifting’ up and over the top of your pedal stroke; then pick another mini goal that will keep you motivated. On the run you could focus on counting your cadence for the minute and hit your mini-goal. You could then pick a mini goal of making it to the upcoming aid station without stopping, or passing the person that is 30 feet in front of you. Keep your motivation high, and nothing will stop you!
Concentration: Focus on what YOU are doing! Don’t let what others are doing or saying distract you from what you are striving to accomplish. Stay inside your own head and stay focused on your goals. Choose several different “mantras” that you can repeat in your mind to keep your focus clear and your thoughts focused and powerful. A few mantras that you might try are: “Race my race and pace my pace”, “I am a smooth and efficient swimmer”, “I am a strong and powerful biker”, “I am a fast and light runner”, “I love to push myself….I can do amazing things.” You get the idea. Your mantras will keep your mind focused and concentrating on the task at hand instead of focused on how hard something is, how tired you might feel, or what other people around you are doing. STAY IN YOUR ZONE and don’t worry about everyone else!
Relaxation: The moment you get tense and uptight, you are losing precious energy and focus. The best athletes will teach themselves to stay relaxed and in their zone. I think one of the very best ways to stay relaxed is to stay GRATEFUL. Go through a list of all the things you are grateful for and enjoy the release of endorphins that will help you stay relaxed and happy as well as keep things in perspective. When your mind and body are relaxed, muscles are able to work at full capacity and the discomfort of racing is less intense because your brain is focused on positive actions.
Follow these four basic principles for managing your mind/body connection and reach your Peak Athletic Potential this upcoming year!
Coach Keena is a regular contributor at TriEdge and has 15 years experience coaching and training hundreds of individuals. She s a USA Triathlon Certified Coach and holds additional certifications from the National association of Sports Medicine (NASM) and the American Council of Exercise (ACE) as a certified personal trainer. If you would like to contact Coach Keena go to: www.coachkeena.com.