Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Mental Game

If you ask most people about triathlon, they will tell you that it is made up of 3 disciplines: the swim, the bike and the run.  I have to disagree...for me and for most people that are training for this type of endurance event, the triathlon consists of 5 events: the swim, the bike, the run, nutrition and the mental game.

I have seen improvements in my swim and bike.  My run and nutrition will not improve until I get the mental game right.  The mental game impacts all the elements of this sport.. and for that matter...of my life.  

On Saturday, I was suppose to do a 60 mile bike ride.  I got up that morning, had a good breakfast and was at the trail bright and early.  I was determined to accomplish this distance.  Beth got to the trail and we were off.  This was a important workout for Beth as well.  She wanted to see how she felt after 60 miles to determine if she should attempt doing a half ironman race next weekend.

The first 15 miles were fantastic.  I rode fast and hard and was loving the morning air.  We got to the Horse Park at mile 15 and I was doing well.  We grabbed some water, downed a gel and off we went. Mile 20 ...fine.  Mile 25....doing ok...but starting to feel fatigue.  Mile 30..back at the car and I am determined not to quit.  I decided to do a couple of 5 mile out and back rides to make the workout a little different.  This was a mistake.  In those miles from mile 30 to 35, my mental game was off.  I just wanted to go home.  It is in this time that I have to push through and get focused.  We got to Winter Garden and I was truly done.  Beth headed to mile six to get a hill repeat in and I waited.  In this time I was just so fatigued and I am not sure if it was true body fatigue, laziness or mentally I just wasn't in the game.  We returned to mile 0 and 40 miles were done.  I almost racked my bike at this point and called it a day but Beth explained to me that it is in these times that you have to push through.  Even if I just did two more miles, it would mentally help me down the road.  We did 5 more for a total of 45.  As I drove home, I was angry at myself.  Why am I not mentally tough enough to do this.  Am I scared of the pain of the extended miles?? Am I just too lazy to get this done??  

They say Ironman training is a journey...and after this workout I have to agree.  You learn alot about yourself in these low points.  I think this is where you learn how to be tough and what works to keep you going.  Today (Sunday) I did a 2 hour run workout and I was focused.  It was a totally sunny day and very warm but I pushed through and did the full two hours.  Running is the hardest for me but I was determined not to have another workout like Saturday.

The mental game needs an overhaul!