Thursday, March 14, 2013

Mental Skills & Training

I have been reading a ton lately on training and am overwhelmed by the different training principles, theories and general mass of information that is out there. Each author thinks they have the "key" or the right way to go about something. One author wrote that you shouldn't even try to do a Half Iron (70.3) until you have had 3+ years triathlon experience (Well screw you, I am doing it anyways) [*Slams book shut and throws across the room*].

Thank goodness most of the other books said that because I am already an endurance athlete with marathons, that transitioning into doing a Half-Iron this summer with little Tri-Experience won't be as bad as some experts say. They say it's going to take time, hard work, patience, and mental toughness. Guess what, I have all of those and I am already working my ass of, there is no way in hell I am going to be at that start line July 14th and feel unprepared. No, I may not be following the most normal progression of things to get from Runner to Long Distance Triathlete, but I've never claimed to be normal. [not in the least].

I did find a "Mental Skills Profile" that rather interested me, and I wanted to share because I think this could be used for any athlete not just the cray cray people like marathoners/ultras and triathletes. This is from the Triathletes Training Bible (2nd Edition) by Joe Friel.

( Found this version of it online, unfortunately it isn't numbered, you'll have to number each question for the scoring of this.)
Scoring: Add up each of the numerical answers you gave for each of the following sets of statements:
2,8,17,19,23,30 ---Total:____(Motivation)             
3,5,9,24,27,28---Total:____(Thought Habits)

32-36 Excellent
27-31 Good
21-26 Average
16-20 Fair
6-15 Poor

Then use the scoring chart, to see where you excel, 
and where you may need improvement.
 It's not scientific or proven,
 but I think this can help you gauge where your focus should be.
 We all know running is as much mental as it is physical.
 Don't get upset if you fall short in some places,
 it's a good thing because you know what you should be working on
 to help make yourself mentally stronger.
Look back at specific statements and see what you think you can work on.
No one is perfect, NO ONE.
Find what works for YOU.

I won't share all of my results with you, nor should you, it should be a personal thing. You're the one who has to overcome the mental blocks just like I have to overcome my mental blocks. I will share that I had the best result in Visualization out of the 5 areas. This didn't surprise me at all, I am always trying to picture how race day will go, always trying to imagine the sites and feelings coming across the finish line. I do this in longer/harder training runs and it helps get me through it. I alluded to this in Bust Through Boredom post at the bottom of it. I will visualize to the point where my heart rate goes up, my emotions get high, and I can physically feel the things I am visualizing (Usually crossing finish line of a big race), I have gotten choked up during runs before because I was picturing the moment I BQ'd, or the picture of my friends/families faces as I  accomplished one of my goals. Visualization works great for me, maybe not for everyone but maybe try it sometime. I don't care if I sound like an idiot, but the number of times I have pictured myself throwing my hands up like Rocky crossing a finish line is an astronomical number but it has helped me push through hard workouts and races and got me where I wanted to be.

For the record: I scored least in habits (since I shared my highest score, only fair I tell you where I am lacking)... I really need to work on keeping routine, and keeping positive when things go wrong. I'll be the first to admit I can let a bad race eat away at me.

Last nights workout was long and tiring but I made it through. I know I have plenty of longer workouts ahead of me as I train for another Marathon and train to complete my first Half-Ironman.

I did a backward triathlon last night, yes it is still accomplishing something if you do it backwards. And yes I know that I have to do proper bricks as well, but all of my workouts wont be done in normal progression, but until after the marathon I need to split my focus between running/triathlon. Once the marathon is over, majority of my workouts will be in true triathlon fashion.

<<[Preworkout shot last night, ready to go, notice the gigantic overflowing bag that accompanies me to the gym when I am doing all 3 disciplines...I think the people at the JCC think I bring an overnight bag with me, nope just gonna do a workout longer than a sprint distance triathlon]

3.1 mile run in 25:45 (8:18 pace) [157 avg. HR Zone 2-3]
 90 Minute Endurance Ride
30.1 miles ( 20 mph avg)
[136 Avg. HR, Zone 2]

<<[This is what my face looks like when I look at the screen and realize I am only halfway done with my 90 minute ride. Words cant describe how excited I am for spring so I can ride outside and be so much less bored with long rides!]

<<[ Yay! Run and Bike are done, red and sweaty and ready to jump in the pool!]

900 Yard Swim (Roughly half mile)

4th discipline of the workout: professional eating competition. I won. Against Myself. Subway Egg-white breakfast flat-bread 6"(I love that they now serve it all day!), juice (fresh squeezed green), berries with Greek yogurt and protein powder, 2 bananas.

If there is anything I have learned throughout all of my training it's that it really is mind over matter. Our sport(s) are very much so a mental game, yes there is a huge physical aspect but mental toughness is just as important.

What do you think is more important, physical or mental aspects?

Have you ever thought about ways you could improve your mental toughness to also improve your performance?

Any tips to share on how I could be better about not letting bad races/workout get the best of me mentally?


  1. The mental aspect of running is the hardest for me to overcome. Physically I'm capable of running for miles and miles on end but the fear creeps in and overpowers those capabilities. Thanks for sharing that mental skills profile. I'm definitely going to fill one out for myself and I'm sure I'll be surprised at where I'm lacking and it will definitely be helpful to look back on and figure out how to change.

  2. Really interesting stuff here! I am in agreement--the mental side is so stinking important. And I know it's my weakness. I think the best thing to do is to draw on those good workouts, the ones that let you know you CAN get your goal. That is totally where I am right now--focusing on those key, killer workouts to help me with my marathon this weekend.

    1. You have put the work in and you are going to do great this weekend!

  3. I think the mental aspect is the hardest part for me too. Although I don't post whiney posts when I personally feel I've had a bad race it gets to me for sure. I sit there and wonder...where did I go wrong...what did I do. It eats away at me as well.

    Also that face would be my biking face...all the time.

    1. I try not to do posts that are too whiney when I have a bad race/run. When looking back at REALLY old posts in DM of mine, I found a horrible depressing and lame post after I had a really bad race and vowed I wouldn't write like that again, it didn't help anyone. A little rant here and there is good but no need to go postal about it.


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