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 ūüôā

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


Pre race planning
Pre race planning


  • 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


  • 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!


  • 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!


  • 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


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


  • 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!



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




  • 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?

Hard Workout

Luke McKenzie is a professional triathlete. ¬†Triathlete Magazine recently posted an article with his “hardest workout” and it just so happens to be on the bike. ¬†I would love to know what his Ironman Watts are that he puts out!! ūüôā

It doesn’t matter if we are professional athletes, age group podium athletes, or recreational athletes…every one of us has a workout that we consider to be a “hard” workout at some point…one that pushes us physically, mentally or both.

Friday I had a VERY. HARD. RIDE. ¬†Since purchasing my new toy¬†a few weeks ago…


this was the first ride that REALLY challenged me (both physically and mentally).  After having my VO2 Max test at the end of February, I know what my power zones are:

  • Power Zone 1 = 0 -123 watts
  • Power Zone 2 = 124 – 167 watts
  • Power Zone 3 = 168 – 200 watts
  • Power Zone 4 = 201 – 233 watts
  • Power Zone 5 = 234 – 266 watts
  • Power Zone 6 = 267+ watts

Friday morning’s ride was power intervals and looked like this:

  • 30 minute warm-up
  • 6×3 min power zone 3 (mid to high z3) while keeping my cadence above 95 rpm with 2 min easy spin between each set
  • 15 minute cool-down

Typically I have at least one other person to ride with in the sweat cave early in the mornings, but not this time.  I was all by myself.  In my own head.  Staring at concrete walls and a bunch of empty bicycles.

Here is what my performance yielded:

Screen shot 2014-04-05 at 10.44.44 AM

My power and cadence were nearly spot on according to the targets I was to be aiming for.  The first 4 intervals were challenging, but physically I felt strong.  By the 5th and 6th intervals, I really had to use my mental focus, self talk (or yell) and visualization to dig deep and finish as strong as I could.

Before training with power, I was training on heart rate.  According to my heart rate data below, my heart rate was solidly in zone 4 for each interval after the first two and was nearing zone 5 by the final interval.  With power zone 3 being the target, I was forced to work harder, pushing my heart rate much higher than zone 3.  If I would have done this same workout using heart rate, I would not have pushed this hard.

Screen shot 2014-04-05 at 10.44.53 AM

This was only the first of many more HARD WORKOUTS, but I am excited to see where training on power will take me!!

I'm. Beat. Nothing. Left.
I’m. Beat. Nothing. Left. Put. A. Fork. In. Me. I’m. Cooked.
Puddles of sweat on the floor next to the bike = good workout.
Puddles of sweat on the floor next to the bike = good workout.

What is your hardest workout?  Do you train with power?  If so, what improvements have you seen as a result?


Week #13 (Recovery Week) Totals:

Swim:  4700 yards

Bike:  76.2 miles

Run:  21.7 miles

Strength Training:  2 hours & 15 minutes

Hot Yoga:  1 hour

Week #13 in the green¬†ūüėČ

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


“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

Running in Solitude

This begins one of my favorite times of the year…Coaching Team 12.4 runners…the spring weather is an added bonus!! ¬†Almost every Saturday, I show up early and run on my own as a warm-up before running the scheduled distance for the Team 12.4 runners. ¬†This last Saturday morning, Team 12.4 met at Lloyd Kurtz Park for their first 4 mile run. ¬†During my warm-up, I decided to run from Lloyd Kurtz Park to Ada Hayden, run the figure 8 through the park and run back to the park. ¬†This gave me about 5 miles prior to meeting up with the rest of the group. ¬†During this portion of my run, I was in my own head and really able to focus on the purpose of this run. ¬†Despite the light drizzle and the 40 degree temperatures, this was sure to be an amazing run!!

Mental training became a key focus during the first 5 miles of my run. ¬†Affirmations…I can/will handle any obstacle that comes my way…I eat hills for breakfast…I am strong…I am tough…I experience great joy when I run…I am at peace when I run. ¬†Mantra…Think strong, be strong, finish strong. ¬†Visualization…I see myself focused on my goal while running…I see myself finishing pain free, strong, and confident. ¬†This got me thinking about “Pride” from the movie Cool Runnings:

While running in solitude, I reconnected with nature and encountered lots of wildlife…red-winged black birds, robins, deer (right on the path and they didn’t move when I ran past them), geese, mallards, trout (there was a man fishing under the bridge I ran over who caught one just as I was passing overhead), a stray cat, squirrels, rabbits…so peaceful…

Run aloneWhat will I encounter tomorrow morning while running in solitude??? ¬†Nature…peace…focus…time for mental training…the possibilities are endless!!