RESET for Success


Posted by Coach Amanda Leibovitz

Remember the 1993 classic, Jurassic Park? If you don’t recall the film or don’t know what I’m talking about, I highly recommend watching it during your next long ride on the trainer. Not only does it have a killer musical score that’s guaranteed to get your heart pumping and groundbreaking special effects that bring dinosaurs to life, but it’s also this giant metaphor about the unpredictability of life. 

At the expense of sounding like Dr. Malcom (the renowned chaos theorist from the movie pictured above), there inevitably comes a time in sport or life when something doesn’t go as planned. If we can accept that unpredictable things are going to happen, we are able to shift our attention from trying to control everything to prevent challenges to how we recover from setbacks and adapt to a new situation.

Before we throw strategy and tactics out the window, YES, we absolutely want and need to have a plan for a training session or race. However, when we start thinking that our plan is the best and only way to compete, we run the risk of limiting our performance when the reality of the race deviates from how we imagined it would be.

Many things can happen when things don’t go as planned, and it often mirrors a “fight or flight” response. The “fighters” might start reacting quickly and often without much thought, scrambling to salvage their performance. Others might stubbornly hold on to their plan despite much evidence suggesting otherwise. The “flighters,” however, will likely remove themselves from the race emotionally (i.e., decreasing effort) or even physically (i.e., DNF) when it appears a sub-optimal performance awaits at the finish line.

Fortunately, we are not left with only two choices when faced with adversity. There is another option, and unfortunately, I do not have a super-cool name for it just yet. This other path involves the process of RESETTING*, which serves to help us take in new information, determine a new course of action, and stay engaged in the present. The premise is simple:


Breathing serves as a physical cue to acknowledge that something has gone wrong AND our desire to move forward from it. A strong exhale is a very simple action that allows us to say, “I didn’t want this to happen and it sucks, but I still want to continue.” It also clears some space in our brains to move to the next phase of the RESET process, talk.

Step 2: TALK

In this sense, “talking” refers to self-talk. Self-talk involves cues that are motivational (i.e., next buoy) or instructional (i.e., even pedal pressure), but they should bring you back to the race in a way that is beneficial to your performance.

Step 3: GO

Often the most challenging stage, “go” requires us to re-engage with the race with the same energy, optimist, and enthusiasm as when things were going well. This present-mindedness is key to getting the most out of any performance.

When implementing the RESET process into your training and racing, it can be helpful to think about making each interval better. Intervals, in this sense, can be buoy to buoy, 5-mile increments of the bike, aid station to aid station, or anything else that makes sense to you. Regardless of how the last interval went, the goal is to make the one you’re currently completing better. Please note, better does not always mean faster! Better can relate to pacing consistency, maintaining focus, kinesthetic feel, positive self-talk, and many other measures.

With practice, you’ll be able to RESET efficiently and effectively whenever “Life, uh, finds a way,” and continue to perform at your best in any situation!

*Model adapted from Dr. Ben Chell.

Coach Amanda Leibovitz is a USA Triathlon Level I Coach, USA Cycling Level III Coach and a Certified Consultant of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (CC-AASP). Prior to her move to Texas, she worked with Dare2Tri Paratriathlon Club and currently serves as a guide and tandem pilot with The United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA). Amanda has coached age group athletes preparing for sprint, standard, half-Ironman, and Ironman distance events, as well as amateur and elite paratriathletes. In addition to her expertise on the physical aspects of endurance and multisport training, Amanda also offers mental performance training through Team MPI. She can be reached at

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