Categorized | Challenge, Primary, Triathlons

Using Mental Re-Setting During Your Race

Posted on 22 April 2014

There will normally be a few crucial times during your race when it’s mentally challenging to keep pushing the pace. Your heart rate is high, the lactic acid is building in your legs and it hurts. During a long race when the energy stores are completely depleted and the mind is scrambling all over the place, staying focused becomes very difficult. How are you going to handle it, because you know it’s going to happen?

Often many times during the early stages of a race the miles are flying by quickly and it feels relatively easy. Your sub conscious is not reminding you that there will be some difficult times ahead.

Mental Re-setting is something that I have incorporated into races many times. During several recent conversations about the Triple DECA Iron event (30 Ironman’s in 30 days), many have asked me what day was the most difficult day and how did I push through the specific barriers.

The toughest mental challenge was day 3 during the Triple DECA swim section.   Even after 5 bike crashes that would occur later in the race, nothing compared to that morning of day 3 in the swimming pool. Specifically about half way through the 2.4-mile pool swim my mind was scrambling all over the place.

As I was swimming, while breathing to my right side I noticed a beer sponsor banner glimmering in the morning Italian sun on the side of the swimming pool deck.   I kept looking at it every lap and it became the point when the race became a bit overwhelming in my mind. I could not stop thinking that I would be looking at this sign every other lap for the next 27 days.

I was thinking way to far into the future and decided to stop at one end of the pool immediately and grabbed some food and drinks to mentally re-set. It was a point that I will never forget during this incredible event. I just stood there for a few minutes in the shallow end of the pool and kept repeating to myself “think only in terms of where of I am”.  Yes the clock was ticking while I stood there, but it was a long event so a few minutes really did not matter that much in the entire scope of the challenge.  I started again and just counted laps in my head and after about 8-10 laps I was back in a good pace with my mind focused only on the swim. By thinking of the swimming and nothing else, it eliminated the magnitude of not only the upcoming hilly bike ride in the rain and long run, but most importantly it kept my mind off of the 27 days left in the race.

Mental re-setting is a good strategy to get you out of the bad times during an event.    I use these 4 steps and consider its use as it might help you when dealing with mental difficulties in a race.

  1. Immediately get your mind on the present and focus only on the task at hand.
  2. Do a mental body scan – from your feet to your head
  3. Use a self-affirmation statement and repeat it a few times.
  4. Finally, tell yourself you have “mentally reset” and time to get back to work.

We all experience highs and lows in an endurance event, consider mental re-setting as an alternative to get you through the lows in your next race. It works!

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