Spring is here, the evenings are lighter and the shorts are out!! This is without a doubt my favourite time of the year. Usually I am now tapering for a marathon, but instead this year I’m gearing up for triathlon season. Barcelona 70.3 is five weeks away; my first Biathle is just two weeks away! Training is going well on the bike and in the pool, however I must admit running is still feeling weak, the mental side of running has been knocked, and I am only just getting it back. I am hoping in time for Barcelona, and even stronger for Mexico in September.
Self-doubt is a huge weakness of mine, and my automatic response is to bring myself down, I will find any reason to bring myself down a notch. I understand fully the power of the mind, it is one of the biggest lessons I learnt whilst spending 48 hours on a treadmill, but right now I am finding my mind the most difficult discipline to master. The stupidity of my doubts range from ‘what if I forgotten how to do a triathlon? I haven’t done one since August!’ to ‘You messed up your running, pushing it too far in September’ I know I’m not alone, and it’s one of the reasons I look up to elite athletes such as Paula Radcliffe and the Brownlee brothers so much, not only for their superb speed and endurance but because of the mental pressure they must conquer in order to perform the way they do, with the expectation and financial responsibility they have to bare.
Being around the right people is an astronomical influence on my mind set. Living with Claire Steels, having a coach who is just a text away allows me to vent my worries and also hear theirs in return, to know I am not alone, and to support each other in moments of weakness is safety net in terms of controlling my mind. Visualisation is a key strategy I use, I used to use it without even realising it, however now working with a psychologist and reading books by Ruby Wax and Robert Young, I see it is actually recommended to anyone looking to focus their mind. When the doubts creep in, I simply think about the race in my head, I feel the sensations such as the warmth of the sun and the influx of lactic acid as I climb the hill- I most commonly use this in hard turbo sessions and on the last kilometre of a run. It takes so much practice, but fortunately I used to naturally visualise myself in the Olympic final as a fourteen year old swimmer whilst completing a 6km swim session at 5 a.m. (oh, my immature optimism!)
So with my first race in two weeks, lists can be written, kit can be bought, but my biggest preparation is getting rid of the chimp full of doubts sat on my shoulder. The key to my endurance is making sure he does not appear whilst in the ‘dark place’ in the second part of a race.