This weekend marks the beginning of Ironman Season for most of us here in the U.S. as the Woodlands host the North American Championships.
At this point the physical training is complete and the final few days can be both exciting and nervous for both first timers and seasoned racers. Endurance sports are special for many reasons, but most people are drawn to them by the physical magnitude of it all.
I am here to tell you the physical aspect of endurance is the easy part.
Mentally being able to push yourself to keep going once the body is telling you to stop is what separates good from great. It does not matter how well you have prepared, how dialed in your nutrition plan is, or even how talented or competitive you are. At some point your mind will try and stop you. All athletes no matter the sport can benefit by training the mental aspects of their respected event.
Simple things go a long way.
Visualization, positive self talk, and race day mantras work. Managing the rollercoaster of emotions during an Ironman gets easier with experience, but the highs and lows will always be there. Take these next couple of days to mentally prepare for them. Rehearse how you are going to talk yourself into continuing when the mind is trying to shut you down. Have a plan, then execute that plan.
I have the privilege to race vicariously through everyone I coach, and when possible I attend events to offer encouragement and support. Working with a wide range of athletes both in experience and ability has allowed me to experience both joy and heartache –from the simple success in completion of a once thought of “impossible task” to the thrill of victory or the agony of just missing out.
In every case, every situation, one thing is constant — JUST KEEP GOING!
At some point Saturday it’ going to get tough, you get tougher. At that point when the mind says stop, JUST KEEP GOING! Remind yourself the more it hurts, the sooner it’s over, JUST KEEP GOING! When you push through and dig down deep inside yourself, you will find strength you didn’t know you had. Everyone has low points. Some adversity will arise, JUST KEEP GOING! If you don’t know the story behind these two pictures of Jessica take a moment to just look at the body language and not much else has to be said.
JUST KEEP GOING!!!