Like a Monkey with a Miniature Cymbal
It doesn’t get easier, you just go faster.
I was watching the Olympic Triathlon the other night on You Tube. I know, nothing better to do on a Friday evening hey triathlete?. Watching the Brownlee brothers split by Gomez was just as amazing almost a year later. Those boys know how to race.
A couple of points as to why these guys (and most professionals) are awesome:
1. In an Olympic distance race, they are finished around the same time I am coming off the bike. Seriously.
2. Alistair’s 10K split time was 29:07, a mere 2:50 off the world record (26:17). Pretty amazing considering he came off a 43k bike.
3. It’s not just the run that makes them awesome. Their swim and bike splits are just as impressive.
4. These boys know how to suffer.
My wife made a comment after my last Olympic distance last year; she said it looked like I was having fun out there. I was. It was an absolute riot. Watching Alistair, it did not appear that he was having much fun out there. Sure, winning is always fun and doing something that you love for your country has to be on the top 5 list of anyone out there, but as they lapped through Hyde Park, the pain in that moment must have outweighed any of that.
We have all been there, in either training or racing; the point where you want to slow down or quit altogether. I have been there and made both decisions. I have quit a training session early as I just couldn’t keep going, and I have pushed through and finished strong in a race. In my opinion, it all boils down to mental toughness. Your ability to suffer is not located in your legs or gained through more training. It is located in your mind, and the more you can keep pushing when your mind says stop, the better you will train/race.
To compete, you need the ability to suffer. I call it the ‘pain cave’.
So how do you fight through the pain and keep the pace? Here are my thoughts.
1. Blue sky’s in, grey sky’s out.
Smile, high-five some volunteers, or chat with a fellow competitor. Eliminate any negative thoughts and replace them with positive energy.
2. Repeat a mantra.
Mine? “Keep Calm and Drop the Hammer” and “Run Like a Ninja”. Use it in training, racing, and life. This is the most effective for me.
3. Loosen up any tight muscles.
Spin freely in a low gear, get out of aero position, or shake you arms out. You use energy tightening muscles and if they aren’t helping you propel forward, they are taking up valuable energy.
4. Focus on the next landmark.
The top of the next hill, aid station, mile marker, racer. You name it, if you can catch it, focus on it and don’t quit till you get there. Before long, you will be at the finish line.
5. Have an internal iPod.
Music helps me get through a tough workout. Right song at the right time I can hammer a 350W Power Interval. Sing to your self, quietly if you don’t want anyone to think you are crazy. I repeat “Over and Over” by Hot Chip when I need some energy.
6. Don’t take it too seriously.
Remember, you ain’t a professional. Let’s face the fact, we do this for fun, not profession.
Question: How do you deal with the tough spots? Have you figured out how to suffer?