Mental Training for Ironman Boulder

I have spent a lot of time mentally preparing for Ironman Boulder these last few weeks…reading about mental training, visualization, mantras, positive self talk, etc.

Carrie Cheadle’s most recent article in Training Peaks…5 Simple Strategies for Overcoming Race Day Nerves…has a lot of great focus points for race day.

She also has the book On Top of Your Game that I have read and have found VERY helpful for mental training.

One of my favorite books on mental training...perfect pre race reading :)

One of my favorite books on mental training…perfect pre race reading 🙂

I’ve decided to take you inside my mental training and let you “see” what I see and “hear” what I hear.

Visualization:

Pre race planning

Pre race planning

Pre-race: 

  • Smell the Sharpie marker at body marking
  • I am relaxed and ready
  • Taste Goldfish crackers, Osmo Preload and Barnanas
  • See the bike pump as pressure is added to my tires
  • Smell wetsuits
  • Hear announcements and the Star Spangled Banner

Swim:

  • Feel the cool water enter my wetsuit
  • Smell the clean, fresh air
  • Hear the water and people splashing around me
  • Feel strong and relaxed
  • Smile!
  • Have Fun!

T1:

  • Easily remove wetsuit
  • Slowly run to change tent to keep heart rate low
  • Easily change into tri kit and arm coolers
  • Feel Body Glide and Hoo Ha Ride Glide on skin
  • Taste water and Goldfish Crackers
  • Feel cool water on arm coolers
  • Feel bike shoes and helmet
  • Be focused and relaxed
  • Be patient
  • Smile!

Bike:

  • Easily climb out of transition with bike in an easier gear
  • Keep HR and power low for first 11 miles
  • Be strong and focused
  • Stay seated and relaxed to successfully execute climbs
  • Drink and Taste Osmo Active  every 30 minutes
  • Taste and smell Goldfish crackers
  • Smile!
  • Have Fun!
  • Be patient early on
  • Be powerful
  • Be focused and relaxed

T2:

  • Keep HR low
  • Taste and smell goldfish crackers and water
  • Hear crowds cheering
  • Feel new socks and running shoes
  • Smile!

Run:

  • Start easy with low HR
  • Easy and controlled breathing
  • Taste grapes and oranges
  • Hear crowds cheering
  • Taste Honey Stinger Chews
  • Run efficiently and strong
  • Taste Osmo Active
  • Smile!
  • Have Fun!

Mantras:

Swim:

  • Straight, fluid and relaxed – at the start of the swim
  • Straight, fluid and strong – once I’ve found my groove
  • “Just Keep Swimming”

dory

Bike:

Run:

  • I am strong. I am tough.
  • I am brave. I am fearless
  • Think Gold and Don’t Settle for Silver!
  • “I feel good…”                                                                                 James Brown

Positive Self Talk:

  • This should hurt, but it will go away. Embrace it!
  • I am strong.
  • I am powerful.
  • I am tough.

Do you do mental training as part of your pre-race training? If so, what additional mental training components do you incorporate into your training?

Trication Part 1 – Red Feather Lakes

When we signed up for Ironman Boulder, we knew we wanted to take a few weeks vacation before the race to acclimate to the altitude and arid climate. Thankfully we were lucky to get to spend 3 weeks in Colorado acclimating and catching up with family and friends. The first part of our trication (vacation with a triathlon) is at Red Feather Lakes, Colorado (elevation 8,600 feet).

Friday:

We loaded our Rav4 on Friday evening so we could leave bright and early Saturday morning.

IMG_3716

The inside of the Rav4…minus 3 Ironman athletes.

IMG_3714

All of our clothes and luggage were stowed outside of the vehicle.

Saturday:

We rolled out of Ames and onto the interstate at 5:15 am Saturday morning in the pouring down rain. Thankfully it only rained on us for the first 3 hours of the trip, but visibility wasn’t great during that those first three hours and my co-pilot and navigator were both sound asleep…

My co-pilot and navigator are sleeping.

My co-pilot and navigator are sleeping.

We eventually made our way to Cheyenne, Wyoming after traveling through Nebraska (AKA…The. Most. Boring. State. EVER!), where we loaded up on groceries and gas before making the final 2 hour trek up into the mountains. As we crossed the border into Colorado, it started to rain on us again, but thankfully it didn’t last.

We got a bit wet as we entered Colorado again.

We got a bit wet as we entered Colorado again.

We arrived at our friend’s home in Red Feather Lakes at about 4:15 pm (mountain time), unloaded our vehicle, had great conversations with Kuby (our friend whom we stayed with), went for a walk down to the lake and enjoyed some amazing homemade Bolivian cuisine.

We are staying in a BEAUTIFUL home!!

We are staying in a BEAUTIFUL home!!

The view off of the deck overlooking the lake.

The view off of the deck overlooking the lake.

Walking Darwin down by the lake...

Walking Darwin down by the lake…

Sunday:

I woke up at 3:40 am (mountain time) and made myself go back to bed before getting up at 5:30 am and spending some quiet time on outdoor deck in the sun. It was 49F and ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL!!

The morning sunrise on the mountains.

The morning sunrise on the mountains.

Drinking my Karma Kombucha on the deck watching the sunrise.

Drinking my Karma Kombucha on the deck watching the sunrise.

We made some breakfast and then I went back to bed for a 2 hour nap. These first few days at altitude are all about resting and acclimating to altitude without getting altitude sickness. I spent some time working on my blog posts, catching up on other blogs that I follow and playing cribbage with the Iron Hippie in the afternoon.

IMG_3775

The Iron Hippie was beating me at this point of the game (he was blue and I was red), but I came back and beat him big this game 🙂

Before dinner, we prepped the boat to take out in the morning on Monday, while Darwin (the Golden Retriever) played with sticks in the “yard.”

IMG_3780

The Iron Hippie and Allen deciding how to put the trolling motor on…I have the most experience with this, but it was fun to watch the two of them try to figure it out 😉

IMG_3781

Darwin loves sticks!!

Kuby is an AMAZING cook!! We were able to enjoy another AMAZING meal…this time Turkish cuisine.

IMG_3783

Turkish yummy goodness!!

Monday:

After breakfast, the Iron Hippie, Allen and I loaded into the boat and cruised around the lake before the winds really started to pick up.

IMG_3801

Allen, the Iron Hippie and me on the water.

IMG_3791

Growing up on the lake, I had the most experience driving the boat.

IMG_3787

The Iron Hippie and Allen are enjoying the view.

IMG_3798

Kuby and Allen loading the boat back onto the trailer after our ride. The water was 52F…Allen’s feet and calves were numb 🙂

After being chilled on our boat ride, we decided it was time to get in the hot tub.

IMG_3805

We all have the best tan lines…

I followed this up with my first “workout” at altitude…strength training 🙂

Step-ups with ankle weights

Step-ups with ankle weights

After lunch, I went down to the lake and read by the dam. It was so peaceful and I actually got a bit warm sitting in the sun.

One of my favorite books on mental training...perfect pre race reading :)

One of my favorite books on mental training…perfect pre race reading 🙂

The bald eagle was soaring above me while I was reading.

The bald eagle was soaring above me while I was reading.

It was our night to cook…Thai food, here we come!! Most of our late afternoon was spent prepping food for the meal.

Just call me the sous chef ;)

Just call me the sous chef 😉

After dinner, we took the dogs for a walk and saw the most spectacular sunset with a double rainbow off in the distance. It was more beautiful than this photo shows…

Sunset with a double rainbow in the background (this photo does not do the real beauty justice)

Sunset with a double rainbow in the background (this photo does not do the real beauty justice)

Tuesday:

I started my day with some pre race planning and mental training, while sitting in the sun on the deck. What a beautiful morning and the perfect way to start the day!!

Pre race planning

Pre race planning

After breakfast, I continued to bask in the sun and read books until lunch. I finished On Top of Your Game by Carrie Cheadle and started reading The Champion’s Mind by Jim Afremow.

Mental training!!

Mental training!!

We prepped food for dinner…nothing to extravagant tonight…roast, potatoes, carrots and onion. Simple and tasty.

My afternoon was spent doing some laundry and repacking my bag and our cosmetics so I was prepared to head to Estes Park on Wednesday morning.

Everything is all packed up and ready to go to Estes Park.

Everything is all packed up and ready to go to Estes Park.

After dinner, we went for one final walk around the Red Feather Lakes area before hitting the sack.

A moose on the side of the road.

A moose on the side of the road.

The boys checking out the lake before we leave.

The boys checking out the lake one last time before we leave.

3 little ducks had to hop up the dam to swim away.

3 little ducks had to hop up the dam to swim away.

The lake was as smooth as glass.

The lake was as smooth as glass.

Wednesday:

We got up bright and early, enjoyed some breakfast and then loaded the vehicle for our travels to Estes Park. On our way to Estes Park, we stopped in Fort Collins for a swim and an amazing sushi lunch. I was a little nervous about swimming at altitude, but was VERY pleasantly surprised…the swim went much better than I had anticipated and I had some serious #swimlove 🙂

Super happy with my swim workout at the Mulberry Pool in Fort Collins.

Super happy with my swim workout at the Mulberry Pool in Fort Collins.

Suehiro was an AMAZING sushi bar! Thanks to Kuby for the suggestion!!

Suehiro was an AMAZING sushi bar! Thanks to Kuby for the suggestion!!

Mick treated us well with amazing food and conversation...he definitely has the Midwest hospitality (he is from Minnesota after all)!!

Mick treated us well with amazing food and conversation…he definitely has the Midwest hospitality (he is from Minnesota after all)!!

This was an AMAZING fish casserole and two rolls that Mick picked out.

This was an AMAZING fish casserole and two rolls that Mick picked out.

These three rolls Mick picked out and he flame kissed them with a blow torch!

These three rolls Mick picked out and he flame kissed them with a blow torch!

We then headed to the Ironman Boulder bike course and drove the route to get an idea of the course as well as the turns we would be making for some pre-race riding we had planned later in the week.

Ironman Boulder Bike Course

Ironman Boulder Bike Course

After finally arriving in Estes Park, we unloaded the car and I spent some time organizing my room before finding a nice place for dinner and settling in for the evening.

We made it to Estes Park!!

We made it to Estes Park!!

This is our cabin for the duration of our stay in Estes Park.

This is our cabin for the duration of our stay in Estes Park.

This is the view from our patio for the next 11 days.

This is the view from our patio for the next 11 days.

My own personal room for the next 11 days...I get a break from the testosterone!!

My own personal room for the next 11 days…I get a break from the testosterone!!

A stream that runs through Estes Park's downtown area.

A stream that runs through Estes Park’s downtown area.

Waiting for our table at Poppy's...enjoying the quiet of the stream and the band off to my left.

Waiting for our table at Poppy’s…enjoying the quiet of the stream and the band off to my left.

Poppy's Pizza was fantastic!!

Poppy’s Pizza was fantastic!!

This was my Mediterranean Pizza...Yummy!!

This was my Mediterranean Pizza…Yummy!!

Salt water taffy for dessert...yummy!!

Salt water taffy for dessert…SWEEEET!!

Have you ever been on a trication/racecation? If so, where did you go? How did you get your training in while traveling?

Currently

A lot of my blog posts lately have been centered around my training, which is a huge part of my life, but there are other things going on in my life as well. I love Erin’s “Currently” posts that Abby and Kristin have jumped on board with, so I decided to step away from the training posts for a minute and catch you up on the rest of my life with my rendition of “Currently.”

Finding:

Balance…trying to balance a 40 hour work week with ~20 hours of training and still find time for friends, house chores, dog snuggles and the little things in life is a challenge, but it is all worth it!! I’ve noticed that I am so much more efficient and productive during these busy weeks. I also eat healthier and sleep better. During recovery weeks, I tend to skip more workouts; the pressure isn’t high enough during recovery weeks, so I am not as efficient and productive elsewhere in my life.

Catching Up:

With my Sole Sister…we do work together and see each other everyday, but we haven’t had a workout together in a LONG time and we haven’t had a conversation that wasn’t work related in even longer. I miss her and am in need of some #solesistalove and #solesistasweat REALLY soon!!

IMG_3960

Loving:

Warmer weather, fresh air and sunshine…I am definitely loving outdoor workouts and am getting excited to do some landscaping in the backyard. With 20+ hours of training in each of the next couple of weeks, I’m hoping for less rain and more sun to get out and soak up even more vitamin D!!

IMG_2988

Counting Down:

The days to the end of the school year…only 9 more days with students. I don’t think there is anything more to say. #bringonsummervaca 🙂

IMG_3017

Looking forward to:

The start of our triathlon season is less than 4 weeks away…Legend 100 will be the first triathlon of the 2015 season and I. Can’t. Wait!! I’m definitely ready to play 🙂

Excited to:

Meet my new niece…I was blessed to have niece #5 born on April 23. That makes 3 nieces in Walnut Creek, CA and the twins are in Okoboji, IA. I definitely don’t get to see them often enough!! My sister and I have worked out some dates that will work for my trip out west…now I just have to find a cheap flight 🙂

IMG_2979

Reading:

On Top of Your Game: Mental Skills to Maximize Your Athletic Performance by Carrie Cheadle…I just can’t get enough on mental training! LOVE IT! This book will help you learn how to:

  • Remain positive under pressure
  • Be mentally tough in the face of any challenges
  • Achieve more consistent results
  • Feel calm, confident, and ready to compete
  • Rekindle the excitement and love for your sport

IMG_3187

What is currently happening in your life?

2015 S.M.A.R.T. Goal for my “A” Race

Many people start the new year with “New Year’s Resolutions” and most of those people quit trying to keep these resolutions within the first month of the new year. According to the Huffington Post, only about 13% (1 in 8) of people who set New Year Resolutions successfully keep their resolutions for one year. This is why I don’t set New Year’s Resolutions…instead, I set S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-based) goals.

I evaluated my 2014 journey, which allowed me to reflect on successes and failures throughout the year. Being truthful with myself and my 2014 journey, has helped me set S.M.A.R.T. goals for my 2015 training and racing season.

Smart Goal

When setting S.M.A.R.T. goals, it is important that they are:

  1. Specific…having precise goals stated in terms of performance.
  2. Measurable…being able to determine if the goal has been accomplished.
  3. Attainable…setting high, but realistic and achievable goals.
  4. Relevant…setting a goal that is important to YOU and NOT because a friend or family member has a similar goal.
  5. Timely…having a specific time frame for completing the goal.

My “A” race for 2015 is Ironman Boulder on August 2. My time goal for this race is sub 14 hours…

Ironman Boulder

  • What does this mean for a time goal for each discipline of the race? Swim = 1:15-1:20 (I swam 1:21:52 in 2014 at Ironman Wisconsin); Bike = 7:00:00…or less (I biked 8:15:12 in 2014 and 7:56:58 in 2011 at Ironman Wisconsin); Run = 4:30:00-4:45:00 (I ran 5:15:32 in 2014 at Ironman Wisconsin)
  • Why do I have a sub 14 hour goal? While it would be awesome to set a new PR (and sub 14 hours would be a PR by over an hour), I really want to push my limits and see what I can actually do, even if it is at a higher altitude. I have BIG DREAMS and a sub 14 hour Ironman would get me one step closer to fulfilling these #BigDreams.      IMG_0973
  • What steps am I going to take to get there? I am going to focus most of my efforts on the bike to improve my bike strength. Incorporating more power focused workouts on the bike into my training plan will definitely help me build the bike strength I am seeking. I am also going to incorporate more brick runs off the bike to teach my legs to run strong when they are tired. I am going to follow a well laid out training plan making sure it includes proper recovery. I am going to continue to incorporate strength training into my training plan to prevent injuries. I am going to continue to incorporate mental training into my training plan so that I continue to teach myself to #believe in me, my abilities and my training.

I am expecting some challenges along the way…after all, it wouldn’t be an Ironman if there weren’t challenges. One of the biggest challenges we will encounter is going from an altitude of 956 feet in central Iowa to an altitude of 5430 feet in Boulder, Colorado. Thankfully, we have a plan to help diminish the effects such a drastic change in altitude can have on a person…we are going to arrive in Colorado on Saturday, July 11 and start at an altitude of just over 8,000 feet to acclimate for a few weeks. This will give us 3 full weeks to acclimate (as best we can) to the higher altitude before race day…who doesn’t love a 3 week vacation leading up to a big race?!?!?!?!

What is your “A” goal for 2015? Have you made this goal a S.M.A.R.T. goal?

Goals and Wishes for 2014

I met with Coach Julie in early November to discuss my 2014 racing calendar.  We discussed many topics, but I am putting some of the highlights out for the public to help hold me accountable during 2014.

2014 Races:

Racing Goals:

  • Get my nutrition spot on for IRONMAN Wisconsin
  • Break 14 hours at IRONMAN Wisconsin
  • Break 6 hours at IRONMAN Kansas 70.3
  • Run the Drake 1/2 Marathon in 1:45:00 or faster
  • To have fun training and racing
  • To get my mental training spot on for ALL of my races

Racing Wishes:

  • I would be ecstatic if I broke 13 hours at IRONMAN Wisconsin
  • I would be ecstatic if I broke 5:45:00 at IRONMAN Kansas 70.3
  • I would be ecstatic if I broke 1:40:00 at the Drake 1/2 Marathon
Goodbye 2013...Hello 2014!!

Goodbye 2013…Hello 2014!!

What are your goals and wishes for 2014???

My 12 Days of Christmas

I was inspired by Carrie Cheadle’s Facebook Post about giving yourself something to make you feel amazing for the 12 days of Christmas this year.   I decided to give myself a “gift” everyday during the 12 days of Christmas….some of these gifts were what Carrie suggested, while others where ones that I came up with on my own.  Each of these gifts is special to me…some of these gifts are very simple and most of them don’t cost even a penny, but they are all gifts we should consider giving ourselves everyday to remind ourselves just how special we truly are.

Day #1:  Write a mini love note to myself  IMG_2705

Day #2:  Gift of Time…30 minutes for just me 🙂

Taking 30 minutes to snuggle up under a cozy blanket with a good book and a cup of hot tea.

Taking 30 minutes to snuggle up under a cozy blanket with a good book and a cup of hot tea (in a mug I won as an award in 2004 at RCC Run the Woods).

Day #3:  Gift of Motivation…I decided to make a motivational collage and post it where I can see it daily.

I created a collage of motivational images

I created a collage of motivational images

Day #4:  Give myself a pat on the back…I don’t give myself enough credit most of the time for all that I do and how amazing I am.  I decided a good pat on the back was in order.

IMG_2724

Day #5: I gave myself a treat.  Something I didn’t have to share with anyone else…

Yes...a shower.  While this may seem to simple for most of you, I was incapacitated for a week due to a combination of strep throat, a severe sinus infection and pneumonia, so a shower felt truly amazing.  It was a small gift, but the best gift I could ask for at the time.

Yes…a shower. While this may seem too simple for most of you, I was incapacitated for a week due to a combination of strep throat, a severe sinus infection and pneumonia, so a shower felt truly amazing!! It was a small gift, but the best gift I could ask for at the time.

Day #6:  I gave myself an award.  Since I ended my 2013 triathlon season with a DNF, I decided with the New Year just around the corner that it is time to start mental training for 2014.

IMG_2737

Day #7: I gave myself a party…not the typical party with lots of people, food and drink, etc.  I gave myself a party with just me and my girls (Mya and Basil…our two black labs).  I played the song “Celebration” by Kool & The Gang, we danced, celebrated (both feeling better and the beginning of a 2 week winter break), smiled and had lots of fun!!

Basil dancing with me and celebrating!!

Basil dancing with me and celebrating!!

Day #8:  Gift of Knowledge…I purchased a book to help me learn how to perform better under pressure, tame the butterflies and overcome setbacks.  I am hoping to use these mental skills to help me perform consistently, remain confident when faced with challenges and successfully accomplish my goals both during training and on race day.

On Top of Your Game

Day #9:  Gift of Perspective…a list of gratitude.  I make a list of things I am thankful for every night before bed, but I decided to put a twist on this list…growth is a must for everything on this list.

IMG_2752

Day #10:  Gift of Encouragement…I wrote out 4 powerful and affirming statements and posted them where I will read them everyday between now and January 1, 2014.  The power of being who I want to be lies in my own thoughts.  Only I can change negative thoughts into positive beliefs.

IMG_2756

Day #11:  Gift of a Toast to Celebrate ME…”I proposed a toast to my strengths, my PRs in 2013, my commitments and dedication.”  I also “proposed a toast to the most relaxing Christmas ever” with the Iron Hippie.

IMG_2760

Toasting the Iron Hippie

Day #12: Gift of Relaxation…I started Christmas morning with 1 hour of hot yoga.  While this is typically in my weekly workout routine, I haven’t been able to workout for the last two weeks due to illness.  I decided that this would be a perfect gift for Christmas Day.

Starting Christmas Day focusing on Mind, Body and Soul...PERFECT!!

Starting Christmas Day focusing on Mind, Body and Soul…PERFECT!!

Merry Christmas Everyone!!

Staying Motivated Through Reading

I have read some really inspiring and motivational books this summer and want to share them with you…

IMG_2023“A Life Without Limits” by Chrissie Wellington…I have actually read this book twice.  I love that Chrissie does not just tell us about her life as a professional triathlete, but also tells us about her life growing up, her family, her friends, her education, her life experiences, how she overcame challenges with eating disorders, her career evolution, vacations she ventured on and the route she took to become a professional triathlete and the Queen of Ironman.  

“…with a positive frame of mind and a willingness to work, anything is possible.”                                                         ~Chrissie Wellington

IMG_2039

“Can’t Swim, Ride, Run: From Common Man to Ironman” by Andy Holgate…One of Andy’s colleagues challenged Andy to complete a triathlon.  This challenge would change his life!!  He not only had to learn to swim and bike, but he was also engaged and accidentally signed up to participate in his first Ironman seven days before his wedding.  This book is about Andy’s journey to his first Ironman, with a little emphasis on preparing for his wedding day.

“One of the things that this journey has taught me is that you have to have a positive attitude to get anywhere in this life.  You first have to believe in yourself, then others will listen to you, and if you treat them correctly they will respect you.”                                    ~Andy Holgate

IMG_2038“Magical Running: A Unique Path to Running Fulfillment” by Bobby McGee…When I first saw this book, I thought it would be about running, running form, etc.  Boy was I wrong!!  This book is great for ANY athlete in ANY discipline because it’s focus is Mental Training…affirmations, visualization, setting targets and goals, self evaluation, relaxation, positive self-talk, mantras, key words/phrases, proactive (not reactive) training and racing…

“To run as I want to, I require of myself to exhibit the following characteristics in training, races and in my daily life:

  • being patient
  • believing in myself and my abilities
  • believing I am a successful runner
  • enjoying my running and participation in races
  • asserting myself
  • staying calm and relaxed
  • knowing I have choices in any given situation”

                   ~Bobby McGee

IMG_2040“17 Hours to Glory: Extraordinary Stories from the Heart of Triathlon” by Mathias Muller with Timothy Carlson…This book is a compilation of a variety of different triathlete’s journeys to and through Ironman competitions.  These journeys include those of professionals, age group athletes, wheelchair athletes and physically challenged athletes.  Each chapter is dedicated to an individual that has their own story to tell, which is told in their own, unique voice.

“Trust in yourself and never give up!”                                              ~Mark Allen

“You can idealize it or condemn it, depending on your mood.  Or accept it for what it is.  But what is it?  This Ironman is an exhibit of physical endurance, either designed by fools for heros, or designed by heros for fools.”                                                               ~Sister Madonna Buder

“Be tougher than the rest.”                                                                  ~Sarah Reinertsen

“Believe in yourself, never give up, and enjoy life.  Nothing is impossible!”                                                                      ~Marc Herremans