POSITIVE MENTALITY - It is a SKILL that needs development
Everyone in Triathlon will tell you that your race performance will drastically improve the more positive your mentality is. The reality is this is a massively under developed SKILL Whether you are racing a sprint or a 140.6 there are a multitude of challenges that will invariably present themselves in every race. (Personal favorites - got punched in the water, goggles filled with water, couldnt find bike in transition, dropped nutrition/bottle on bike, got passed by competitor, thought someone stole sneakers before T2, cramps). We need to have a positive mentality to survive the myriad of issues that arise in a race. In addition, many triathletes are overly self critical and can find fault even in our best performances. I believe this stems from our desire for constant improvement. While it is important to always look for improvement, the line between critical self evaluation and negativity is a fine one. Do not be negative.
So, how do we develop the SKILL of a positive mentality while we race?
1) Reflect and identify at least one positive aspect of EVERY workout you do.
This can be as simple as, I really didn't want to get up for this workout, but I DID!" It can be workout specific such as: I finally ran double digit miles or my first 50+ mile ride!
2) Include mantras and self talk while training
My mantra is "grind". I like it to be short and have underlying meaning. The word itself sounds strong, I grind my bike gears, and then grind down the miles to the finish! I also believe in self talk while training because it makes it more natural to do while racing. Some example of self talk are: "Be smart on this hill", relax and breathe, 3 more miles - I've got this". I tend to self talk in my own head, but if saying it out loud helps you - go for it!
3) Set short term (achievable) goals in training
SMART goals allow you to achieve and be positive in increments throughout your journey. Example: swim 1 mile continuously in the open water by July 3rd Once you have accomplished this, there is positive feedback for you mentally. Set a new goal!
4) Receive compliments from your peers without deflecting the positive incoming praise
This is something I have to work at, and am sure many of you do as well. For example a co-worker says "Congratulations, I hear you did really well at your triathlon this weekend!" You reply "Oh, it was no big deal, I wished I had run faster." Come on - admit it - you have done this!!! So, we really should say, "Thanks so much! I trained really hard for this event and had a great day." Then you could even ask them if they want to join you in a future event! Even hire a Peak Coach to help! ;)
5) Praise others around you during training and racing
I am such a believer in this concept. The more you are suffering the more you should compliment those around you. It can take away the focus from your issues and it seems that the positive energy given to others always comes back tenfold! Try it.....even if the person passing you is in your age group!
This does take effort but I am suggesting that you train your brain as well as your body!
I know you will improve your training and race performance.