Develop Mental Fortitude

I read this article with Chrissie Wellington, four-time Ironman Champion at CNN about training your mind.

Ironman champ: Train your brain, then your body – CNN.com.

The ideas ring true not just for triathlons, but for fitness, projects, and other things.

Here’s some quotes I grabbed from the article:

If we let our head drop, our heart drops with it. Keep your head up, and your body is capable of amazing feats. To plunder the words of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, “Don’t ever forget that you play with your soul as well as your body.”

How do you train your brain to help you achieve your goals?

  1. Have a mantra and/or a special song to repeat.
  2. Keep a bank of positive mental images.
  3. Practice visualization beforehand.
  4. Break up the race into smaller, more manageable segments.
  5. Remember that training is about learning to hurt.
  6. Get people to support you.
  7. Mentally recall inspirational people.
  8. Consider racing for a cause that is bigger than yourself.

Triathlon coming soon…

If you’ve been following along, I labeled 2010, my year of action. I was going to take action to achieve my goals rather than just talk about it.

One of my major goals for 2010 was to lose weight and complete an olympic triathlon. I’m only 10 days away.  (Any normal person would be freaking out right now. — I’m in that category.)

Freak out?

I am cautiously confident that I’ll be able to finish. I’m still darn nervous. I am not a fan of cold water. Lake Michigan water temps these days are between 65 and 70. Contrast that with my backyard pool which averages around 92 degrees, and my local lap pool is about 83 degrees. So, the cold water will be a shock. Unfortunately, I have not had the chance to do an open water swim. I haven’t had a chance to try on my wetsuit (that’s a story for another day – hopefully a story with a happy ending).  Also, running after biking has been slow for me.

Triathlon Goal!

Yes, my goal is to finish, but of course I want more than that.  I want to beat last year’s average time of 3 hours.  I am not sure I’ll make that.  All of my workout times have been dramatically slower than the 3 hour pace.

Current workout times:

  • SWIM:  my (0.93 mile) swim time is about 40 minutes
  • BIKE: my (24.8 mile) bike time is 90 minutes
  • RUN: my (6.2 mile) run time is closer to 60 minutes.

If your keeping score at home, that’s 3 hours 10 minutes and that doesn’t even include transition times.  So, unless adrenaline kicks in, or wetsuits speed up swimming, or the bike trails I’m riding now are technically more complex and thus slower than the main triathlon course, or a miracle happens, I’m going to miss that secondary goal.  I’m still shooting for 3 hours.  Its good to push ourselves.  After all, trying is better than not trying at all.

Workout challenges:

At some point, we just have to decide.  Change your priorities.  It has not been easy for me.  I battle the workout blahs all the time.  I have to force myself to workout.  I feel good afterwards, but just starting its a challenge.  Exercise isn’t a habit yet.  Having a triathlon race scheduled and paid for since January has really made it easier for me to motivate my workouts.

I struggle mightily with the food still.  I love good food.

More Triathlon observations to come.  I’m finalizing a blogging posting schedule now that my triathlon training will slow down.  I am going to make an effort to continue the exercise habit and stabilize my writing habit.

I wanted to check in with you all. Of course, my question still stands:  How can I help you achieve your fitness goals?  What do you need to be accountable to make your year of action?  I want to help.