|Coach's Note from Lance Watson
|Feb 02, 2012
"I have nothing left. The tank is absolutely empty. I'm done."This was the input I recently received from a high performing athlete after swimming 8 x 400 meters intervals. He then proceeded to swim two more 400 meter intervals at an even faster pace. Obviously, he was far from dead. And he was brimming with confidence afterwards. He took it 100 meters at a time and focused on efficiency rather than maximum effort. More importantly, he broke through a personal mental barrier.
When you finish that third or fourth interval in the middle of a hard run (or swim, or bike) set, and you think you can't go on, that is a prime opportunity to "observe yourself" mentally processing physical discomfort (or "pain" as some of us like to call it!). What kind of storyline are you creating for yourself? It is empowering to start becoming aware of your thought patterns. Obviously the way we think and the things we focus on during practice becomes habitual over time, and that place we regularly visit in our mind and spirit become an automatic response to stress and stimuli on race day.
When you get fatigued, what is your self-talk like? "I knew I couldn't do this", "I'm having a bad day", "Maybe next time", "I'm just not a good runner", "I'll keep trying", "I'll be as efficient as possible". These are all different (and common) responses to physical training stress. The thing is, the more often we choose one of those responses, the more consistent it becomes, whether positive or negative. You can guess what your response to fatigue and physical stress will be on race day. It will likely mimic exactly what you practice time and time again in training.
Think about training and racing.
Most people who do triathlon love some aspect of training for sport. It might be the endorphins from a speed set in the pool, or the fluid rhythm of a base run. Feelings on a positive day usually range from calm to uplifted or excited. Interestingly, we can often become completely immersed in negative, energy sapping thoughts as well. "This is hard; my legs hurt; I feel heavy; how much further; I don't like this"… You can dwell on these types of thoughts for long periods of time. In Ironman, these types of thoughts can be deal breakers. One of the biggest challenges of the Ironman is that it is just such a long time to think out there.
The next time you find yourself immersed in a negative thought pattern, consider past experiences in sport or life when you felt mentally light and engaged. Revisit experiences where thoughts and focus aren't clouded by self doubt or negativity.
While you are reading this, consider some of your positive mental workout sessions. I will bet that your mind was clear that day, and for one reason or another you decided that day you were going to have a positive, on-task experience out there. Take ownership of that mental mindset. It's a potential tool in your tool kit you can practice, hone and use on race day. Training over the next month will impact how you physically and mentally handle your race season.
Great athletes have the ability to experience incredible physical discomfort, but not to automatically couple that with mental strain. In fact they engage in that physical sensation, connect their mind with their body, and focus on being as efficient and economical as possible, and mentally unencumbered.
What do you focus on? Is it a positive process of movement and mental lightness and clarity? Or is it a personal battle against gravity, oxygen debt, and pain? You decide.
February can sometimes be a tough month for motivation. You are building base miles, the weather isn't always great, and race season still seems a ways off. If you need a spark, I have posted a 5 part series with some great ideas for "staying motivated" on our Facebook page. Link directly there from our home page at www.lifesportcoaching.com
Our coaches travel a lot. This is a great benefit for LifeSport athletes! We really like to promote a sense of team in LifeSport and support. If you are going to be at one of these races, let us know, we'd be glad to meet up with you (whether we coach you or not) and give you some last minute race tips and cheer you on come race day.
Tentative Major Events Schedule:
- 70.3 Eagleman
- 70.3 Calgary
- 70.3 Rhode Island
- 70.3 Timberman
- 70.3 Muskoka
- 70.3 Hawaii
- 70.3 Mt. Tremblant
- 70.3 Philippines
- 70.3 Boise
- 70.3 Antwerp
- 70.3 World Championships, Las Vegas, Nevada
- Ironman Canada
- Ironman Coeur d'Alene
- Ironman NY
- Ironman Mt Tremblant
- Ironman Arizona
- Ironman St. George
- Ironman Switzerland
- Ironman Frankfurt Germany
- Ironman Florida
- Ironman Hawaii, Kona
- XTERRA Philippines Championships
- XTERRA World Championships
- LavamanTriathlon, Kona, Hawaii.
- Rev 3 Portland
- Challenge Roth
- ITU WCS Sydney, Australia
- ITU WCS San Diego
- OLYMPIC GAMES TRIATHLON, MENS AND WOMENS
And finally, some random positive vibes on the Power of Coaching!
Maui Marathon 2012:
"So are you ready for this? I was 4th... the third place woman, who I saw pass me, only beat me by 9 seconds. The second place, who I also saw pass me late in the race, by 30 sec... Anyway, pretty happy but I may set an even loftier goal for next year. Never thought I'd ever be at the top of anything to do with running in my life.
(Tracey from Calgary)