Mental Strategies Part II
Make Your Ironman Day the icing on the cake!
OK everyone, while it won’t come to anyone’s surprise that I had a lot to say this month, I narrowed it down to one topic, but understand that I’m not used to blogging. Can I talk about more than one subject? Perhaps it’s the generation gap, I don’t know; however, the way I understand blogging is I can write about my thoughts. Scary at times for sure. I thought about writing about the Tour de Cure and how Lori Drake inspired both Ren and me in 2012. I missed the Tour then due to a bike wreck and Ren and I went and met Lori who took on the challenge of 215 miles by herself. Pretty impressive. Or, I thought about writing about following your dreams even when others think they are crazy…I mean Leigh Adams is a rockstar and has done just that and succeeded and has taken the world of trail ultras by storm! But, everyone who knows me knows that I love and truly appreciate and value the mental side of endurance sports. I’m constantly every day using mental strategies on my athletes to get optimal results. Getting to know them and how they operate and what they respond to…because we are all so different and one size does not fit all for sure! Hmmm…my tricks are out now J
Sit down for what I’m about to say here…Ironman Race Day is not about pacing, nutrition strategies, your training plan or the fact that you a run a 7:00 min/mile. Those are issues that should now be second nature after training and speaking with your coach (hint, hint…). You should be able to feel how easy the bike is, know where your place in the swim start is, and know your run plan. IRONMAN RACE DAY IS ABOUT HEART AND STAYING POSITIVE…PERIOD! The coach is gone, the training plan is gone, and it is you and your thoughts. Having completed 7 Ironman events, I can tell you, each one is different, but somewhere in the course of 12-15 hours, I’ve had lots of discussions with my demons and some better than others. It is simply rare to have optimal preparation for an Ironman because the reality is we are amateur athletes and we simply have a life and other responsibilities. So, for starters, don’t berate yourself when life gets in the way. It happens and we move on to get to race day. Hopefully, your training has been harder than the event itself. Heading into race day focus on the sessions that you have performed well and remember how you felt when you completed those. I ask my athletes to write key sessions on their mirrors!! Why, they can look back on those and immediately remember what a rockstar they are! Remind yourself you have accomplished the work and your mind will reward you.
While you are out there on the course your mind will play tricks on you. Visualize what you have done in those situations previously, whether they are race day or in training. One of my athletes (who shall remain nameless at the moments) always says…Rinse and Repeat, Rinse and Repeat. What becomes second nature will be second nature on race day. Practice visualization and train your mind…this is what we do and this is what happens. Welcome the hard spots because you’ve been there in training.
We have Ironman France, Ironman CDA, Ironman Lake Placid, Ironman Mt. Tremblant, Ironman Louisville, Ironman Lake Tahoe, Ironman Japan, Beach to Battleship Full Iron Distance, Ironman Florida, and Ironman Arizona all on the hit parade this year. Each one of those presents unique environmental challenges, but they all have one similarity…2.4 miles on the swim, 112 miles on the bike and 26.2 miles of running. No getting around that. As I was standing on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, circa 2008 before my first Ironman, I met some Spaniards. I heard a saying from them that I have remembered to this day. The true Ironman is the training leading up to the event; the event is simply the icing on the cake. Enjoy every moment and take it step by step, kilometer by kilometer and mile by mile. Race day is the day to let go of any negativity and focus on all of the training and believing in you. Your body is physically trained and your mind is now in control. Visualize you drawing energy from people bumping you on the swim (ahhhh…another blog on swim starts should be in the works), don’t let people take the energy from you; visualize lactate leaving your big muscle groups when you switch to a different cadence; Stretch on the bike, relax. If you feel bad, sit up, regroup and push the negativity from your head. YOU’RE DOING AN IRONMAN!!!! Just keep swimming, just keep swimming. Just keep pedaling and just keep forward progress. STAY IN THE MOMENT! Don’t think about what is coming. Laugh at the long training run you are about to do with a fully catered buffet. I WILL ENJOY THIS DAY! I WILL BECOME AN IRONMAN!
Most importantly, know that one moment does not mean you will feel bad in the next 10 minutes. It will pass and you will keep moving. Life is made of moments, the good and the bad, and this experience will stick with you. Keep focusing on the positive and why you attempted this in the first place. Focus on your friends and family members who have supported you and remember…what you are doing is special! You are challenging yourself both physically and mentally. Make this day the icing on the cake!!!!