By Brandon HeflinThere is no mistaking it: the sinking feeling in your gut, the restlessness and anxiety of pre-race moments, the dread of your next swim session and the self-deprecating jokes that seem to always mark your particular fears and weaknesses. Most of us are not immune to at least a minimal diminishment of self image. If you think about it, triathletes of every level are much stronger than we give ourselves credit for. We tend to compare ourselves to the best in the sport and thus conclude we are bad swimmers or weak cyclists. I would argue the opposite: compared to most people we are extraordinarily skilled and have stamina that most would, and do, find impressive. As triathletes, we come in different shapes and sizes, from many different backgrounds, but there are themes common to us all: dedicated, goal oriented, motivated and successful.PerceptionSo how do you turn a weakness into strength? It begins with effecting a fundamental change to your triathlete self-image. If you don’t believe in yourself, there is a good chance that you will not reach your full potential. I call it the “S” factor. I suck at swimming. I’m slow on the bike. I just survive the swim, etc. Take a moment to think of all the different negative tags you may use to describe yourself. How many times have you spoken words that reflected and reinforced a low self-image? To change this perception, you must first change your vocabulary.Negative: I’m such a bad swimmer that I’m terrified before the race and panic when the gun goes off.Positive: I have an opportunity to improve my swim and can’t wait for that gun to go off.When confronted with an opportunity to either tear down or build up your self-confidence, through the words you use to describe yourself...build! Sound corny? Maybe, but it works. Self doubt causes fear and often gives you an excuse or convenient reason for failure. Learn to Love It!Make the training fun and learn to love the endurance lifestyle, not just the sport of triathlon. Look forward to those training sessions that address your specific limiters. Learn to have fun with areas of improvement. Be fearless in your mental approach to excellence. Easier said than done? Not necessarily. If you’ve made the decision to compete in your first Ironman, your next longest distance race, or your first triathlon, you have already made a commitment to try something new and to challenge yourself. You have already taken the first step. Likewise, if you are not having fun in your current training regime, change things up. Find a new group or training partner who has fun with their training and can motivate you. Finally, knowledge is king. Take steps to better understand the ‘why’ of what you are doing. When we reach a better understanding of how to train, it creates a more serene environment and helps us adopt a healthier, more confident triathlon self image.ReinforcementYou have taken steps towards reaching your potential. How do you maintain that focus? As athletes, we spend a lot of time training our bodies. However, in the other compartments of our lives we develop our minds and emotions to become more successful in our careers and relationships. We often overlook the necessity of balancing our physical development with our mental and emotional development as athletes. The pursuit of excellence envelopes a total package, not just a few elements. Simply follow a few guidelines and you will be positioned well for success.
Have fun, strive for excellence and enjoy your fitness… you can do and see some pretty cool stuff with it.Cheers,Brandon HeflinCrucible Fitness CoachBrandon@cruciblefitness.com
Brandon Heflin is a Crucible Fitness Triathlon Coach, USA Triathlon certified Level 1 Coach, USA Cycling certified Coach, competitive age group Triathlete and endurance sports enthusiast. With a passion for triathlon, teaching and serving the needs of the endurance community, Brandon is a founding board member of the Pasadena Triathlon Club and active leader in its development and success. With a focus on individual excellence and goal achievement, Brandon has coached Triathlete’s to success in every distance in the sport; from sprints to Ironman. He is recognized by his clients and peers for his hands on approach ‘to overcoming obstacles in the pursuit of excellence and leadership in the triathlon community.
Triathlon Coaching, Racing, training, Long Cycling (best in the mountains), mtb biking, snowboarding, meeting cool folks in the sport and cooking... always cooking :-)