June 13, 2017
It is a well known fact that sport isn’t mentally easy. It’s no walk in the park. If it was, everyone would be an Olympian by now.
The past few months I have experienced a slight (to large) dip in motivation. A combination of finishing my race season and the knowledge that I am going back to studying in a few weeks time, amongst other things, have all affected my motivation and reasons to train. It’s easy to say ‘well I have no races left this year’ but is racing the only reason I should be training? No. I train because I love to train.
Your mental state has been described as the ‘4th element’ to triathlon (others say the 4th element is eating cake….). Your mentality when facing a tough training session is as important as whether you have a working bike, or you remembered your goggles. So how do you get yourself into that perfect strong head set? I’m no sports guru and don’t believe each athlete will respond to the same psychological methods. But for me, having a routine and knowing what my training for the week is on monday is what helps me most in completing all my training. In the last month that I have taken off training, I found that waking up and saying ‘Hmmm, what training shall I do today….?’ left me in a mental fight with myself….. the sports angel on my left shoulder telling me to get out and do a 4 hour ride normally ends up being beaten up with a crowbar by the devil on my right shoulder who loves his sleep….
I also found having a coach to report back to, or someone you have to show your training diary to (side note….. keep a training diary) helps you get the sessions done. So if you don’t have a coach, write it all down and show it to a friend or someone else from your club who you can make your set person.
I was lucky enough this year to have support from a family friend who happens to be a sport psychologist. Chatting things through with her made me realise just how much support I have. I always saw triathlon as an individual sport and I was going it alone. Yes, at the end of the day, it bottles down to how YOU will race and to how hard YOU will train. But that’s not at all to say you are going it alone. I found one of the most helpful tools was to make a ‘support tree’ with myself at the centre. And like a family tree, I branched off with who I have supporting me. Family, friends, boyfriend, coach, triathlon club, psychologist and sponsors were to name just a few of the branches. I put my support tree on my wall where I could see it and when I felt like training wasn’t going to plan or I didn’t want to train alone or I had a bad day, the support tree was often that little boost that I needed.
This years season didn’t 100% go to plan. I raced a lot and most of the smaller races I did really well in. I was also over the moon to come 2nd at British sprint champs. However, I came away from my A race (Europeans) disappointed with 8th. The European Champs was my main aim all year but due to a windy bike, I lost a lot of time, dropping from being equal to the winner on the swim to being over taken on the bike. I experienced a fair amount of negativity as a result, which maybe stemmed my lack of motivation recently. However, I have set myself new goals for 2017 and am feeling more positive in what I have achieved this year. Everyone has off races (mine just happened to be the most important one….woopsie…).
I have gained some fantastic sponsors – The Primal Pantry (I think I would have starved to death without you guys by now…), Spokes of Bagshot (who have lent me the most beautiful bike), Showers Pass clothing (because everyone needs clothes…great clothes) and my new sponsor CherryActive (magic little products). So thank you for the ongoing support and belief in me as an athlete.
1) Set yourself weekly plans.
2) Keep a training diary.
3) Make a support tree.
4) Set new aims as soon as you have completed the others
I am onto bigger and better things with 2017 and am constantly learning from each race, regardless of whether they were a win or a “I’ll bring up the rear!” type race…