Preparing for your triathlon training plan workout requires more than lacing up your sneakers and filling your water bottle. There’s a mental aspect too. You need to prepare your mind as much as your body.
In many ways, it’s your attitude more than your muscles that determines whether you’ll make it to the training plan and stick to a consistent schedule. If you want to reap the benefits of an active lifestyle, try these strategies for overcoming some of the most common mental barriers to triathlons.
5 Ways Triathletes Can Improve
Easily With Mental Toughness
Take a first step. Getting started is often the most difficult part of training. Once you manage to run your first mile, you’ll start building momentum to keep moving.
Break things down. If looking at your entire triathlon training plan overwhelms you, divide it up into smaller chunks. Focusing on one workout or week at a time creates small victories that add up over time.
Set goals. Another way to feel more accomplished is to establish targets that will encourage you to focus your efforts and track your progress. Think about your destination and how to get there. Having separate Swim, Bike, and Run mini-goals really sets you up for success.
Be positive. Use your self-talk to challenge your doubts and remind yourself of your strengths. Believing that you can do something increases your chances of success, whether you’re trying to complete a triathlon or lower your blood pressure.
Visualize. For this to really work in your favor, visualize the way your race day will play out, and do the necessary race prep homework. Focus on constructing a whole intellectual picture, of you performing all 3 disciplines that day out on the event race course. By visualizing yourself succeeding, you can subconsciously improve your belief in yourself and your triathlon abilities.
Real Life Triathlete Moment: I remember going out to the lake a month before my first open water swim race. It was part of my “success homework”. Checking out the race site/course ahead of time, especially the water entry spot and visualizing myself swimming in that choppy water - really boosted my confidence & prepared me mentally for race day on what to expect. <see pic below> Tip: Use Google earth if your race is out of town.
Remember your purpose. There are many reasons for signing up and training for a triathlon race, so figure out the benefits that are most compelling for you. Maybe you want to have more years to spend with your family or maybe you’re looking forward to being able to wear smaller sized jeans or having victorious finish line pics of you with raised hands.
Seek inspiration. Surround yourself with individuals and objects that make you feel excited about training and racing multsports. Put a picture of an Olympic athlete as your screensaver or put up your medal rack where you can see it and be inspired by your past accomplishments.
Plan for setbacks. If you workout long enough, there will probably come a time when other events interfere with your training plans. Decide in advance how you’ll handle sick days or extensive business travel.
Reward yourself. Give yourself something to look forward to. Buy yourself a new kit when you work your way up to doing an epic milestone swim or complete one of your longest rides ever.
Take it easy on yourself. Start where you are at. Try especially hard not to compare yourself or your strava or garmin times to other triathletes. Understand and accept that things will get uncomfortable and you will be navigating uncharted territory. The more comfortable you can get being uncomfortable, the quicker you’ll get to achieving your triathlon goals, every time. Real Life Triathlete Moment: I used to suck at swim-bike transition [T1] because I hated being cold and wet. I would have towels & a fire pit at the swim exit if it was up to me at every race . Fix? I intentionally forced myself to get acclimated to feeling cold and trained my body how to regulate itself by sitting out in the Swim Yard of my local YMCA after every swim workout.
Play music. Listening to upbeat songs provides an instant boost. Even on days when you’re feeling sluggish, your favorite tunes can turn things around. Having on-course personal music in triathlon races is against the rules - does not mean you cannot use music during you training to knock out that last mile or do long swimsets with some underwater earbuds.
Socialize more. Team up with a training buddy and discuss your progress on social media with others who are training for the same race or friends who are interested in your journey. Share encouragement and feedback - it’s magical and gets returned back 1000%. Enthusiasm spreads quickly.
Practice mindfulness. Living in the present moment enriches any activity. That’s especially true for triathlons and multisport endurance races. Giving your full attention to each movement will help you to maintain proper alignment, so you accomplish more and reduce your risk of injuries.
Make it a habit. Your body and mind will be primed to exercise & train if you make the decision to work out more automatic. Develop a regular routine so you head straight to the gym/trail/pool after work instead of trying to resist the temptation to go to happy hour or watch TV.
Think broadly. Integrate exercise or your training plan into the rest of your life. Healthy patterns reinforce each other. When you start training or working out regularly, you’ll automatically subconsciously want to eat better and get more rest.
Have fun. Remember to enjoy your workouts. Pick times, locations and people you like to train with intentionally.
Train the smart way by engaging both your mind and body. When you’re mentally prepared to work out, exercise becomes easier and more effective. You’ll reach your fitness goals and enjoy more energy and wellbeing.