While I have only been an endurance athlete for two years and a triathlete for one year, I have come to realize that, in triathlons, one huge factor that can separate a good age group triathlete to a really good age group triathlete, well besides genetics, is how they deal with what goes on in their mind. I have not had much mental battling to do the past few months since I was in the off season, but there are still little battles to be made during each workout. During yesterday’s FTP, functional threshold power, test I just could not put out the power I wanted on the bike. After I downloaded the data I was pretty pissed since yesterday’s test showed an 11% decrease in my FTP since mid-December. I knew something was not right so I redid the test today and got the results I was hoping for.
That is a small and very easy mental battle to win but once the real season starts I, along with all triathletes out there, will have to tell their mind to do things daily that the mind, and body, do not want to do. One of my friends is getting into triathlons now and he, as I was when I started, is a little overwhelmed. I just told him that during each workout do not think of the yardage, the mileage, or the time, just stay in the moment. It becomes hard when you are sitting on the pool deck at 5 AM telling yourself you have this 4,000 yard swim then you have to go to school, then work, then come home and do a tough interval workout on your bike. I figured that out last year that if you think too much you can take your mind out of the workout very fast.
Thinking about the whole day can become overwhelming very quickly and will lead to nothing good. So what I try to do is break down each workout, and luckily most workouts are broken down into sections thanks to my coach, and attack each section. If I get on the bike and I am just not feeling it I try to make it to the next section because that could be a time to rebound. And if you can master this in training the race becomes a lot easier. I know I have only done 70.3, half Ironman, races so I can only hope that the mental toughness I have acquired in my lifetime of athletics, and mainly the last year of triathlons, will translate to the Ironman because I can only imagine how tough it is. But I am ready for the challenge and cannot wait to start training to see how well I can do!