"In the beginning, it's hard to understand that the race is not against others but against that little voice in your head that tells you when to quit."-Charles Brenke, age-group triathlete
Oh, yes. I know that voice. I heard it in the last triathlon when I was thinking about swimming back to shore and packing it in. Oh that voice can GET SO LOUD! Sometimes that voice acts like there's no other option but quitting. I'm glad I didn't listen, but sometimes I feel like I'm running out of tactics and my head is learning all my tricks. And not just even in triathlon. But during my day.
So I am reading a new book, "The Triathlete's Guide to Mental Training."
It's not about the Triathlon part for me. It's about the head. (Quick sidenote: If you're new here, I've only just begun doing triathlons as part of my quest to lose weight. I am not an actual triathlete. At least not competitively. I'd describe it as "Couch to Triathlon.")
But over the past year, I have learned that losing weight, running, biking, swimming, playing softball, weightlifting or doing any sort of sport at all, eventually requires a certain degree of mental toughness. When you first start out, it's always hard because you're just trying to get through it. Then, after you're consistent for a while, you notice you can go longer and while that part might be easier, it's not really easier because now it's your mind that you have to use to keep going or go longer or get better. Then you have to get used to the idea that even though it's not easy, it really is worth it, and worth motivating for, then when you become one with the fact that it's not easy, you eventually even learn to like it. Dare I say "love" it.
While I have actually crossed the finish line, I have found that getting there was the bigger battle. Like, for instance, my forays into open water swimming (i.e. just bobbing around in the water for a while and almost throwing in the towel). I've come across certain obstacles that I know I can overcome if I can do some training. Not physically, but mentally. Because I get stuck in my head, sometimes a little too much.
The fact is, so many people begin training for 5ks, 10ks, 1/2 marathons, marathons, and triathlons, and while you're all busy getting your body ready, you forget to train your mind. And that's one of the biggest tools in your race. After all, you're spending that entire 30 minutes to five hours (or however long your event takes you) and the hours leading up to it and after it completely stuck in your own head. And if that turns on you, well, then you're finished before you even start.
And that's such a shame, especially if you've already put the time in the physical training part of it.
It was a shame for me to put in six days a week, biking, running and swimming miles upon miles, only to get stuck in the middle of the ocean on race day, bobbing up and down in the cold water like an idiot, watching everyone pass me and not being able to stick my face in the water. All of a sudden. Out of nowhere. Yes, in one split second, your brain can tell you to quit.
Whether or not I listen is another story.
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