You can have the most perfectly executed training block, perfect race day plan, but if your mindset isn't dialed in to support your race, you can never reach your full potential. It matters that much.
I have the pleasure of sharing the Ironman Texas course with one of my mindset athletes. Together we worked on developing her mindset for race week, race morning, and each leg of the race. We even developed a more competitive “killer instinct” persona she can use if needed. Each athlete I work with come up with totally different mindsets and they usually change with each race. As the athlete evolves, so to does their mindset.
I do this same work before each race with the help of my mindset coach (I am a coach with coaches!). I find doing it in collaboration with a coach is more effective than doing it on my own.
My Ironman Texas Race Mindset
In a pretty big step in vulnerability for me, I am going to share my mindset for the race. Each race is totally different and connected to where I am in life during the time of training and racing. For me, sports always reflects the rest of my life and is an amplifier to myself work and spiritual journey.
For Ironman Texas, I am feeling the most grounded in power and fireceness. It is something I have been working on in all areas of my life and I have been calling it into my training.
I also like to draw on animals as my visual during the race. I find if I cannot bring up the thought I want while racing, I can usually feel into the energy of an animal that embodies the feeling I want. I also chose a theme song for this race. I don’t typically do this, but when I was trying to think of the feeling I wanted to have on the course, a song kept playing in my head, so I am going with it.
When developing my racing mindset, I start with the feeling I want, then create the thought I already believe (this is key) that generates the feeling. I usually have a few options. I know the day will be full of ups and downs and sometimes I need a different thought depending on what is happening.
Thought: “I am born to do this”
Feeling: Confident, ready
T: “I am willing to let the day unfold”
F: Open to all to the unknowns
Ironman is a LONG day. It is a day of unknowns. The only thing that is certain is that it will be challenging, it will hurt, and you can only control yourself. Instead of fearing the unknown, invite it in. The unknown is why I chose to race in the first place. So bring it!
T: “I am steady and strong”
T: “I get to be out here doing what I love”
I find thoughts that ground me in gratefulness very calming
Dolphin - playful and can swim all day long
Shark - I will use this as needed if it is an aggressive swim
T “I am fierce and relentless”
F: Fierce, powerful
For this race (flat and windy course) relentlessness is important for me to embody. Relentless in my pedal stroke, my forward momentum, my nutrition, I keep going no matter what…
T: “The wind blows through me”
This race is notoriously windy. If you fight the wind, it is going to zap you, instead, mentally allow the wind to flow through you. Yes you will still have to ride your mind through the wind, but don't let the headwind also be a mental headwind!
Dragon, obviously. My bike is named Dragon for a reason. I feel fierce, powerful and strong riding her and that is exactly how I want to ride this course.
Plus, no one f*cks with a dragon!
T: “I am a bitch, I am boss and I shine like gloss” (inspired by this song)
T: “Let it flow and let it go”
My journey for mental freedom has been a long one and I feel freer than ever going into this race. The run will bring waves of emotions and sensations and I will let them all flow and go! That is the path towards freedom!
T: “Be in it!”
F: Focused, present
I wrote about this last week, the mindset of being in it. When the run really starts to hurt, this is my space. A mindset to stay on task, to remember that I want to be here, I chose to experience all of it and there is nowhere else I want to be at this very moment.
Mythical bird. I have an image of her in my mind - flying, free, strong, light, and shining bright!
Mindset to deal with physical pain and discomfort
This one is from my coach Marilyn. When you feel the sensation of pain, instead of naming it as pain, call it a sensation. The word “pain” can bring up a ton of thoughts and feelings and bury you in a fear thought loop. The word “sensation” is more neutral.
Her line is:
“This is the sensation it takes to (____)” go fast/run 26.2 miles/go sub 11 hrs etc.
You fill in the blank. I draw on this a lot in races when the dark moments come and I keep focusing on how terrible my body feels. This is one of the most useful mindset tools I have!
Develop your Killer Persona
I worked with my athlete to develop her killer persona and I am going to borrow it!
I typically stay within ease and flow for racing, but I also want a very focused, gives no f*cks, gets shit done persona to draw from too. I have big goals for this race (PR time, Top 5 and a Kona slot) and I want this “killer Jennifer” on deck and ready.
T: “This (run pace, effort etc) will happen because I said so”
F: unwavering belief
No excuses, no what ifs, no should haves, this is 100% happening because I will make it so. You better get out of the way if I am in this mindset!
Just as you plan your physical race ahead of time, you plan your mental race. Write it out, visualize what you will think, practice redirecting unhelpful thoughts during training. Commit to doing the mental training just as much as you commit to the physical training.
I cannot wait to see what happens on the race course. The day is unknown. It is in those unknown moments I will come face to face with mental demons, physical obstacles, gratefulness, joy and everything in between. There are lessons out there on that course for me and I am ready. The Jennifer at the finish line will be a different Jennifer then when the gun goes off. I wonder who she will be? I wonder what she will learn?
I don't know but I am so ready for it!