“The mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”
In 2010 I was about at my breaking point with Ironman distance triathlon. I had raced well over the shorter distances, but for whatever reason, no matter how well I trained I just could not have the same level of success at the Ironman distance. I had gone 9hrs 25minutes, which is speedy to most, but considering what I was capable of in training, this was a long way from being deemed a “successful” race.
After a number of terrible Ironman races and DNF’s in 2010 and with 6 weeks to go before my biggest race of the year, I sought out the help and expertise of Bobby McGee. I was desperate and needed to make a breakthrough. I had no idea if seeing a Sport Psychologist was going to help, but I felt it was my only option.
Over that next 6 weeks seeing Bobby McGee would prove to be one of the best decisions of my athlete career. It helped me tremendously and ultimately lead to that breakthrough that I so desperately wanted and needed. That breakthrough was mindfulness training and it was the key to my future success.
Five Keys to Race Day Performance
Here are 5 things that helped me get out of my own way. I hope you can use them in your own effective manner to improve your performance on race day:
1) First, I changed my view on the little voice in my head known as my ego. That voice tends to convince people, and used to convince me, that what
it says is absolute
truth. This is FALSE. That reality alone was a huge breakthrough for me because all thought became less significant, which leads to my next point.
2) Acceptance. It was important for me not to block the thoughts or feelings that came into my mind, but rather accept them. This acceptance lead to an acknowledgement of the thought and then to the ultimate goal, which was to let each thought go.
3) Focus. This came from a familiar thought and visualization that I associated with riding well and powerfully. I knew from my training that recalling this specific thought would lead me to center all my energy on a single goal.
4) Assessment; Response. In time I developed the ability to assess what was happening at any point throughout the race and have a pre-planned response as to what I was going to do in every possible scenario. This did take a lot of planning, but was ultimately very effective. If a situation arose where I couldn’t come up with a solution, I would simply tell myself to wait 15 minutes and check back in. Usually the issue had already worked itself out.
5) “What do I need?” Constantly asking myself the question, “what do I need right now?” This allowed me to stay process-oriented. You will find that when you are focused on the process in the moment, your mind doesn’t have the capacity to think about or attach to thoughts relating to self doubt, outcome, or anxiety.