Train your mind like you train your body
Monday is over, friends. It’s Coach Tip Tuesday!!
This week’s tip is inspired by the many athletes who I’m working for who are headed to the Adirondacks for IRONMAN Lake Placid this weekend. This is something we’ve talked about a lot over the course of the last several weeks, but definitely more in the last couple of days. When preparing for a goal event, it’s really important to train your mind like you train your body. And though this post is inspired by these soon-to-be-IRONMEN, this concept applies to all athletes - regardless of whether the athlete’s goal is to cross the finish line of a 5K, sprint triathlon, mountain bike race, or IRONMAN.
When athletes sign up for a goal event, their main concern is usually the physical training that they need to complete in order to reach the goal. And, of course, since the goal is a physical event, the physical training is important. But I would argue that training your mind is equally, if not more, important than training your body.
What do I mean by this?? I mean that it is so important to visualize your goal in your mind, and train your mind to see yourself accomplishing it. This visualization includes everything about reaching the goal, from training to race day itself. This week, I’ve been talking to the athletes who I work for about visualizing every aspect of their race - literally every aspect. Having a plan that you can “see” really helps calm the mind and build confidence approaching and on race day.
The value of a good visualization cannot be underestimated, and while it looks different for every athlete, the effectiveness of it is universal. It helps calm fears of the unknown, which is one of the biggest triggers for race day anxiety. It helps athletes walk themselves through how they will adapt if things don’t go 100% (i.e. getting a flat, GI distress, a rainstorm coming through). It keeps them focused by keeping their “why” (why they want to reach their goal) at the forefront of their mind. It helps silence peripheral “chatter” that can be distracting by recentering the focus on the athlete. I say a variation of this a lot: there may be 2,500 athletes participating in your goal event. But literally the only thing that all of you have in common is the distance that the event covers. Every other aspect of the event is unique and specific to the athlete participating in it. This makes visualizing one’s OWN race even more important.
So my friends, no matter what your goal is, do this: Close your eyes. Imagine toeing the start line. Walk yourself through the journey in between. See yourself crossing that finish line and imagine how elated you are going to feel. And then open your eyes, keep that final finishing image frozen in your mind, and get to work.