Head Games

September 11, 2013 on 9:37 am | In Community, Races, Random Musings, Sponsorship, Training | 3 Comments

This blog brought to you by Team TriSports athlete Nicole Ramsbey. Check out her blog at www.nicoleramsbey.com and follow her on Twitter – nicoleramsbey.

I raced a sprint tri the other weekend and was not in peak form to say the least.  I managed to perform, and perform not too badly, which led me to thinking about a few things.  One of the things I started thinking about was how much of triathlon is physical fitness and how much is mental fitness? At this point in the season when you may be approaching your ‘A’ race, now’s the time to figure it out.

Finished, and Done

I guess my first thought was, how many people, when they reach a tough moment, give in to the negative Nancy talk?  I hit many negative points throughout racing, but rarely do I “give in” to those thoughts.  Say you are coming up on a big hill during a sprint tri, you’re maxing out your heart rate and you get halfway up…what’s the first thing that you typically hear in your head?   Is it, “I can’t do this anymore, I have to walk”?  If that’s a typical thought process for you, how do you respond to it?

If you respond by giving up the race in your mind and walking, then I’d have to say your mental toughness might need a swift kick in the @**.  I may get this thought once in a while, but I immediately counter it with a positive thought.  During the sprint tri, I had my own mental battle, but I won.  Every time a negative thought comes to mind, I always attempt to counter it with a positive.  Last weekend when I hit the hill, I had to remind myself that I can do anything for a mile.  My responses are almost automatic now, and if yours aren’t they will get to be that way if you continually work at it.

I’d say mental toughness is at least half of triathlon…if you can’t handle the mental stuff then the fitness won’t matter.  Even though you may not be physically fit, if you are mentally fit going into a race, you can still do well.   Imagine the day that you are physically AND mentally fit…you can OWN that day like no other.  Don’t short change yourself, and remember it’s not always about how many miles you’ve logged.

Race with a Smile


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  1. this really hit home for me. I have my A race this weekend and I’ve been dealing with burnout. Even though i’m tired of all the training, I will not allow the little devil on my shoulder to get to me!

    Comment by jess — September 12, 2013 #

  2. Thank you for this post. You are so right. I will be doing my first Ironman in LakeTahoe next weekend. The mental game will make or break you. I thank you for is reminder of how Positive thoughts can change the direction of so many things. I am going to have a great day. It will be a tough, long day but it is truly all about the journey. God bless you.

    Comment by Kim McKenzie — September 15, 2013 #

  3. Great post this is. It is nice to see what it is like in other people’s heads and know that you are not alone in getting such thoughts. No doubt you eventually might be able to condition yourself from having or succumbing to such thoughts of giving up, but for an amateur like me, such thoughts come all too often. I’ve been training for a while now. Have signed up now for a sport specific conditioning program near home in Mississauga as well. Would like to improve my endurance and stamina to the levels required before competing in my first Ironman. Like some of the other posts here too.

    Comment by Sharp — October 8, 2013 #

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