Mental Toughness

“You can have all the fitness and equipment in the world, but if you show up to the start line without confidence, you’ll show up to the finish line with disappointment.”   ~Carrie Cheadle

What qualities does it take to be mentally tough and cross the finish line happy and satisfied with your performance?

  1. Resilience…it is important to respond to challenges, unexpected obstacles and setbacks like a rubber ball; bounce back higher and farther than you set out to bounce the first time. When something doesn’t go as planned, gets you down, or sets you back, don’t let it define you and keep you down. Get back up and fight harder than you ever thought possible. The past is just training; it doesn’t define you. Think about what went wrong, but only in terms of how you can learn from it and make sure that next time you will know how to make sure it goes right. “The next time you want to go crawl under a rock, remember that one event doesn’t define you and that your accomplishments wouldn’t feel as good or be as rewarding if you didn’t have to overcome some challenges and encounter some heartbreak along the way.” ~Carrie Cheadle
  2. Focus…know your goals and don’t let them out of your sight. Focus. There will be times when things don’t go as planned. Focus. There will be times when things are tough. Focus. There will be internal distractions. Focus. There will be external distractions. Focus. There will be times when things go according to the plan. Focus. There will be times when things seem easy. Focus. There will be times when things go better than you had planned. Focus. There will be things that are out of your control. Let them go. Focus on the things that you have control over; don’t waste your time and energy on things that are out of your control. Focus. There will be times you need to overcome pressures…focus, dig deep and persevere!!focus
  3. Strength…every workout that you complete adds a card to your deck. It is easy to rip one card in half, but much more difficult to rip a deck of cards in half. By keeping your focus and completing your scheduled workouts, you are setting yourself up for a much more successful race. The thicker the deck of cards, the stronger you’ll be (both physically and mentally) for your next workout and on race day.
  4. Preparation…you have to want to cross the finish line. In order to get to the finish line, you will need to have the determination to work hard to show up at the start line. The only way to get to the finish line is to first cross the start line. It is important to dream, and #dreambig, but the only way to accomplish goals and dreams is to work hard, learn from mistakes/failures and prepare, both physically and mentally, for what lies ahead. Put a plan into place and execute…Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 2.19.10 PM
  5. Vision…Where do you want to go? What are your goals/hopes/dreams? How do you plan to accomplish them? What steps do you need to take right now to get you closer to accomplishing them? These are all questions that should have solid answers to get you to whatever finish line you have set. Without vision, it is difficult to have success. Without vision, it is difficult to accomplish goals and fulfill dreams.What road do I take
  6. Confidence…BELIEVE in yourself, your abilities and your training. Confidence is not arrogance. How you see yourself is key…even if you doubt yourself, “fake it ’til you make it” and eventually you will start to believe in your training, your abilities and yourself!! The body will achieve what the mind believes 🙂 What do you have to lose???? Even in the face of doubt.kitty vs lion  doubt vs failure
  7. Trust…trust the process. Show up, do the work, breathe, build momentum, make sure the flame  stays lit. “Figure out what lights your fire, then chase the match.” Be present in the moment, learn from the moment and trust that it will make you stronger/faster/more prepared for what is to come in the future. Trust yourself. Trust your training. Trust that you’ve done all the work. Trust your abilities. Trust that you are ready. Trust others. “Hold the vision, trust the process.” hold the vision trust the process

Mental toughness is not something that develops overnight. It has taken me a long time to build up my mental toughness and feel confident in my abilities, my training and myself so I can cross the finish line happy and satisfied. I have found that dedicating 5 minutes everyday to mental training (visualization, mantras, telling myself positive things, etc.) has really helped build my mental toughness to where it is today. I hope that my mental toughness continues to grow with time and experience!

Which of these qualities do you excel at? Which of these qualities do you need to work on? What qualities would you add to this list?

10 Lessons Dogs Teach You About Triathlon

Our two babies...Basil on the left and Mya on the right
Our two babies…Basil on the left and Mya on the right

The Iron Hippie and I have two black labs…Mya is 4 years old and Basil is 15 months old.  I have strep throat and have been home sick, hoping to get better before winter break.  Being sick, I am unable to workout, clean house, etc.  So what does one do when they are sick??? Well…write a blog post. 🙂  I’ve spent some time studying the girls these last two days and it got me thinking about how their actions translate to triathlon.  These are the 10 lessons that I have learned from Mya and Basil and what these lessons can teach you about triathlon:

  1. Have fun…Basil LOVES to play ball, go for a run, swim, tug on Mya and just have fun.  It is important for triathletes to ALWAYS remember to have fun.  If it ever becomes unenjoyable, it may be time to reevaluate why you are doing what you do.  Fun should be a #1 priority for triathletes!!
  2. Get lots of rest…Both Basil and Mya get lots of sleep.  They typically nap multiple hours a day.  Sleep is an integral component for proper recovery both for dogs and triathletes!!
  3. Stay hydrated…The girls drink plenty of water throughout the day.  Water enhances athlete performance by increasing blood volume and lowering body temperature during exercise.  As triathletes, we need to remember to stay properly hydrated, not just during a workout, but leading up to the workout and post workout to improve training and racing performance.
  4. Proper nutrition is key…Mya and Basil LOVE to eat!!  We feed our girls a highly recommended dog food.  Nutrition is what I refer to as the 5th discipline of triathlon and it is very important for us to remember to eat clean and healthy foods.  Proper nutrition will help us achieve our goals and dreams!!
  5. Salt is a necessity…After the girls exercise (often times with us), they always lick us for salt replacement.  As triathletes, we need to remember to not only stay properly hydrated, but also make sure we have proper amounts of electrolytes in our systems.  After having experienced hyponatremia first hand during my first IRONMAN race, I can definitely speak to the importance of electrolytes during training and racing.
  6. Massages are AWESOME…what dog doesn’t love a good massage???  Most professional triathletes know the benefits of massages and frequently incorporate them into their training for proper recovery.  If massages are good enough for professional triathletes and dogs, why shouldn’t we get them too???
  7. Learn from your mistakes…When Basil is scolded for something she shouldn’t do (such as chewing up a puzzle piece, moving a slipper, etc.), she often learns not to do it again.  As triathletes, we need to learn from our mistakes and not make them again.  Failure is success if we learn from it and make changes so the same mistakes don’t happen over and over again.
  8. Don’t Quit…Mya and Basil would swim and/or play ball ALL DAY LONG if we let them.  They don’t know when to quit!!  As triathletes, it is important for us to focus on our goals and dreams and work hard to achieve them.  We can’t get the results we want by making excuses for the work we don’t do 🙂
  9. Determination goes a long way…When Basil wants something, she is VERY DETERMINED to get it.  For example, she will continuously ring the decorative bell on the door knob when she wants outside (something we trained her to do as a young puppy).  Mental training is what I refer to as the 4th discipline of triathlon.  According to Veronica Roth (Divergent), “What good is a prepared body if you have a scattered mind?”  There is so much truth in that question.  Remember…Just Believe 🙂
  10. Listen to your body…When dogs need a nap, they sleep…When dogs are thirsty, they drink…When they have a full bladder, they relieve themselves.  If we listen to our bodies, we can help prevent injuries, help prevent overtraining, remain properly hydrated and stay happy and healthy.

Moral of this story…as triathletes, we can learn a lot from a dog!! dog

Just Believe

With the Holidays upon us and Christmas just around the corner, many parents are hopeful that their young ones will believe in Santa Claus, Elf on the Shelf, the true meaning of Christmas and paying it forward to those around them.  While these are all very important, I would like to add another very important thing for us to believe in…ourselves.

Believe

As endurance athletes, it is critical to our success that we believe in our own abilities, our training, our coach, our nutrition plan, our race day plan…ourselves.  When you truly believe in yourself, success is yours!!

I’ve Found my Missing Mojo!!

I had a “case of the missing mojo” a month ago, but have recently found that mojo!!  While I was deep cleaning my house over spring break, I found my mojo under the bed…among some dog toys and one sock 🙂  NO…REALLY…under my bed was the following motivation:

don't give up

I had printed this off a while ago and it must have fluttered under the bed when the dogs were running around the house.  Regardless of how it got there, my mojo was literally under the bed!!

Finding my mojo definitely benefited me last week.  Not only did I complete all of my workouts, but I also completed them accurately and with focus…SUCCESS!!  I did have to swap my swim workouts to different days last week, but they were NOT skipped!!  The following pie charts show my completed distances and durations of my workouts for this last week.

Duration Summary for the Week of March 25-31, 2013
Duration Summary for the Week of March 25-31, 2013
Distance Summary for the week of March 25-31, 2013
Distance Summary for the week of March 25-31, 2013

The following is one example of my accuracy and focus while completing last Thursday’s 50 minute negative split run.  Here are my stats for that run:

Mile Marker

Pace Per Mile

1

9:28

2

9:25

3

9:16

4

8:47

5

8:42

5.55

8:00

I was INCREDIBLY HAPPY with this run since I had lifted weights at 4:30 am that morning, worked all day, went to the pool after work to swim 2800 yards RIGHT before heading out the door to do this negative split run.  I was VERY hungry and was literally running on “E!!”

The key for me is mental focus…I know I CAN DO IT…I just have to remind myself that I WILL DO IT!! 🙂  Mojo…I’m glad you’re back!!