The most fascinating thing to me about Triathlon, (other than willingly getting up at 4 am and paying hundreds of dollars over and over again for hours of pain) is the mental part of it. From getting training in no matter how tired, sore, unmotivated, etc to getting through a race when you’re tired, sore, hurt, etc to managing expectations in a race, the mental game is the most important thing. After all, we need to convince our bodies to do some, let’s face it, pretty ridiculous things. And be ok with it if our bodies don’t cooperate on race day. This has been a hot topic among my fellow Tri Dorks lately.
The Mental Muscle seems to be the one that’s the toughest for some of us to train. I’ve had a lil’ bit of struggle with this. As you may have gotten if you’ve read previous posts of mine. From bad races to mishaps to injuries to motivation to the DAMN running! Ok, so more like a TON of struggle. In the middle of TriKw this past December I actually was crying on the run and wondering (I’m pretty sure out loud) “maybe I’m not mentally strong enough for this sport”. But then there are great moments like when I got to the top of all of those flippin’ bridges in Miami (seriously, why do we have to race over ALL of them?) when I felt pure joy and was like “F YEAH!!! LOOK AT ME!!”.
My fellow Tri Dorks and I are each other’s biggest cheerleaders yet most of us seem to be way too hard on ourselves. My friend Renee’s performance at IronMan 70.3 Miami last October brought me to tears. She went into the race injured and not feeling well. She gutted it out and got a PR (Personal Record). She raced so hard that she wrecked herself and couldn’t get out of bed the whole afternoon and evening after a race. She left it ALL out there. Is she happy about this gutty performance? Nope. She thinks she had a bad race and has signed up to do it again just to prove something to herself. We all think she’s AMAZING but she couldn’t see it that race. We’ve all done it over and over again. Maybe that’s what keeps us doing these races?
Not everyone beats themselves up mentally. Another friend, Taz, is the most positive life force ever. She always has the best pre/post race attitude. When I ran into her the night before SoBe Tri, I was a nervous wreck and inwardly questioning whether I was ready and would I be able to do it. I asked her if she was ready and she replied with a resounding “hell yes” and went on to point out how lucky we are. That they were closing down part of the city just so we could race through it. I never thought about it that way. The next day when I was racing, remembering that helped me get through the struggles on the bridges. I reminded myself to take a look around and enjoy the view. When I wasn’t swearing my head off 🙂 Taz is always an awesome kind of forceful positive, like she’s daring you to be negative. “you WILL enjoy this and if not so help me…..” When she was doing the Keys 100 Relay she handed the baton to a friend of mine yelling at him to “RUN MOTHERF–R, RUN!” in a forceful, joyful way. So much so that the rest of us standing around almost started running too, lol. She just enjoys what she does so much, it’s hard not to feel it too.
I’ve tried to be more positive while training and not beat myself up as much. It’s a slow process. Just today I was half hoping that I’d get hit by a car when running hill repeats. Hey, I can’t change overnight 🙂
Training and racing is so hugely mental. If you believe you’ll do it, you will. Or some crap like that. My friend Colleen is another super positive racer. She just throws herself into it and enjoys the hell out of all of it.
I’m trying (ha, tri-ing) to learn from all these positive powerful friends of mine. South Beach was the first step and I hope to carry it through in my next race.
What I think I look like when I finish:
What I actually look like: (I, for reals, almost passed out)
baby steps! I hope to look way more like the first picture when I finish Escape to Miami in September.
Brilliantly written as always. My own sense of self doubt when entering horse riding events can and does effect me when I ride and make me question why I thought I was good enough to take part sometimes. Other times when I think- the worst that can happen is I’ll fall off, I just enjoy the whole experience and actually do ok. There is alot to be said for positive thinking….shame it can’t be bottled and that we can take a swig when needed! X
Thanks Sarah! Well said. you’ve got to enjoy the ride!