You a Quitter When the Going Gets Tough?
Mental training for triathlons
Michael Pate of
Choose any search
engine on the net and search for articles on triathlons. You will find
innumerable hits, but very few of them will deal with mental toughness in
the sport of triathlon. Mental toughness is just as important as the
physical training and many experts believe that no matter how much you
physically train, you can still have an unpleasant race if you donít train
mentally. Why do we tend to overlook the mental aspect of sport when it
does play such a vital role?
First, I think that
we obviously look at the sport and know that no matter what our level of
fitness, we will be pushing our bodies to levels of fatigue and exhaustion
that we probably have never experienced. It is also obvious that we
will be training for three disciplines and we will probably be pushing
ourselves in each discipline to reach a new personal best during the course
of our training. By pushing ourselves, we automatically will begin to be
mentally tougher than we were, but I believe that is where we have to look
deeper within ourselves to prepare to never quit.
Next, revisit your
motivation for considering training for and completing your first
triathlon. Are you doing it for the right reasons? You should have a
good answer for this and it better not be ďMy friend is going to do one so I
am going to do one, too!Ē You better make sure you have set the goal for
yourself and you are not pursuing someone elseís goal. If you have the
drive and desire for this sport, this is the first step in developing the
mental toughness that you will need.
On any given day,
you may not want to train, but that will be when some of your mental
toughness will start being built. By forcing yourself to go ahead and
train, you will be preparing your mind and body to continue get stronger.
Most everyone comes out of the swim and is tired and the thought probably
runs through a large majority of their minds to just stop. When you make
the transition from bike to run, the thought may run through your mind to
quit, but you will remember that you overcame this thought on many days of
Make sure you stay
focused in training. In all sports, you need to remember that you play
like you practice, which translates into you race like you train. If you
donít stay focused when you train, you can count on not staying focused when
you race. Let me give you a perfect example: Most of todayís athletes are
using heart rate training as an effective tool to aid them in staying
focused when training. On a typical group ride from our local bike shop, we
have the roadies that like to hammer everyone - you know the guys Iím
talking about. Well, it never fails that someone who starts out on the ride
and is, or should be content with staying in their target heart rate zones
gets caught up with trying to keep up with the roadies. At the end of the
ride, they have completely blown what was on their training plan for that
They let their egos determine how they will train. When you get to a race,
and a seventy year old passes you on the bike, you will want to forget about
your game plan and chase that person down. However, by staying focused on
your game plan, in training, you will prepare yourself mentally to race your
race at your first triathlon.
Another part of
mental preparedness is to know your equipment. At almost every race, I
see someone not finish, because they had mechanical problems on the bike. I
admit that there may be some things that are just insurmountable, but for
the most part, it is usually just not being able to remedy the problem
themselves. Know how to perform basic mechanical repairs on your bike such
as changing a tire. If you have a flat on a training ride, repair it on the
spot so that you can prove to yourself that you can do it on the side of the
road. Most of all, prove to yourself that this ďbump in the roadĒ does not
have to end your race. Changing a tire during a race for the first time is
not the best time to learn how to do it.
Our minds are so
powerful and many times, even though we have trained and prepared the
best we know how, negative thoughts can creep into the picture on race day.
I honestly believe if we fill our minds with positive thoughts during
training we can focus on those same positive thoughts during an actual
race. When I come across something that motivates me, I usually write it
down and many times donít have any idea where I got it from which is the
case with the following. These are some quotes that I have repeated to
myself while training and have helped me:
soar - how successful you are is determined by your attitude.
is only a fact when you give up.
Everyone gets knocked down, the question is: Will you get back up?
change, overcome fear and win.
you discover it's your choice and your attitude, things start to happen!
secret of success is having the courage to begin in the first place.
your choice - will you choose to be a victim or the victor?
don't dare to begin, you don't stand a chance of getting there.
all have to face the fact that eventually, we will have to face the thought
of quitting, but by preparing to be mentally tough, we dramatically reduce
the probability of this happening. I have honestly never been in a race
that the thought hasnít crossed my mind that I wanted to quit. The last
race of this year made me fight more demons in my head than I ever have
before, but because I had mentally prepared, I fought my way through to the
finish line and didnít quit. There is no reason why you canít train to be
mentally tough and never have to answer the question, ďAre you a quitter
when the going gets tough?Ē
winner never quits and a quitter never wins."
When Big Boys Tri 2003