Losing the Mental Battle
I'm not going to go for a race report from last weekend's race this time because to be honest, I am not very happy with my performance. Not because I wasn't fit or anything and to be honest I was actually pretty happy with my place (15th overall). No I am disappointed with the result because I lost the mental battle. What do I mean? I listened to the voices in my head which told me I couldn't, shouldn't and wouldn't. This is something I have worked very hard to overcome in the past. Last weekend it was different.
Normally when I race those voices start when things start to hurt. When you are pushing hard and suffering it is only too easy to listen to the thoughts that tell you that you don't need to push so hard or it is ok to give up. I have heard those voices in most of my races to date and I have gotten used to it. I know when they are coming and I know how to deal with them. So what happened to me on the weekend? I signed up for an Olympic Distance race. I don't love racing this distance because the pace is furious. 2+ hours of going flat out. I did however expect to make a significant improvement on my PB for an OD race. I have been training hard this year and I have been seeing improvements. Therefore it is only natural for me to race an OD faster right? I didn't care about whether I came first or last. All I wanted as to go faster than 2:12. Maybe it is a little arrogant of me but I genuinely believe I am much faster than this. Anyway, come race morning and I wasn't nervous or stressed. It wasn't really that big a deal to me to be honest. The biggest issue I was having was about my new bike. I got some amazing new ZIPP wheels to go with my new Trinity. I had them in at Giant Sydney to have them made ready for racing and I didn't get into the city until Friday evening to pick them up. When I tried to fit the wheels, the disc was too thick for the brakes and I could not adjust them any wider. I went for the 808's instead which only just fit. It was so freaking close but I thought it would be fine. I had everything sorted in transition when I went to the swim start.
Now Elite Energy races are notorious for having all manner of distances for their 1.5km swim, 40km cycle and 10km run. Sometimes they are long and sometimes they are short. When I stood on the beach I thought man it looks like a big course and we have to do 2 laps of it! The beach that the swim was on had an obvious current but I didn't think too much about it. While I was swimming the first lap I thought it felt like a long way and when I got out of the water at the end of my first lap my Garmin had measured over 1km! That was it. I knew it, no chance of posting a stellar time today when the 1500m swim was going to be 2km! I instantly lost interest in the race. I walked back into the water and didn't even duck dive out past the waves and coming back in I did the same thing. I got into transition annoyed. Annoyed the course was long and annoyed because I knew I had slacked off. I was determined to ride well and post a strong run. I left T1 and started riding. about 3km into the race I went over a bump and the front wheel started making a noise. A rubbing noise which meant only one thing. The brakes had moved. I had to stop to try and re-align the brakes. I did this and took off. The noise was still there so for a second time I stopped to try and fix the brakes. I thought I had done it and when I took off again the noise was still there. That was it, whatever interest I had in the day was gone. The only reason I kept riding was because I wanted to run off the bike. I finished the bike leg and got out on the run.
1.5km into the run I got a bloody stitch. It hurt so bad I had to slow right down to try and breath it out. I could not believe it. Every fucking leg had something go wrong. Now I am not making excuses for my result, in fact looking back on it I think it is almost funny. But I was broken. Not physically but mentally. I ran a shocking run split and finished the race. I was amazed by how disappointed I was with the time. The weekend before I smashed my half marathon PB and was on top of the world. My training was working. I was getting faster. Then 6 days later I was convinced I was useless, slow and never going to get any faster.
It wasn't until that afternoon when my good mate Mike 'Robo' Robinson told me 'mate who cares if the swim was long, everyone swam the same distance.' I told him that I do not care about where I place, I wanted a good time. He told me that I am no longer a middle of the pack racer, I should not only focus on my time. Instead I need to realise that I need to start racing the field. This was the exact same thing my coach told me. I hear it and it starts to make sense but it is a massive paradigm shift for me. If I had of focused on the race instead of the time I wouldn't have lost interest in the swim and I would have kept pushing the whole race. Instead I lost the mental battle with myself and have been dealing with the consequences ever since.
I suppose like most changes it will take time. Time to get used to racing with different priorities. Even writing it down now makes me feel uncomfortable. But maybe by shifting my focus onto the race as it presents itself there will be a number of positives. I mean triathlon is the sort of sport where all kinds of things can go wrong. The weather can have a huge impact on your result, some courses have a long run to and from transition. There are so many variables. By racing the field, or accepting that we are all doing the same race, there is perhaps less chance of this sort of mental weakness presenting itself again. Who knows! But what I do know is that there is still a lot more for me to learn about racing the sport I love. But that is like most things, there are always going to be new issues and hurdles which present themselves. How you deal with them can make a huge difference.
So moving forward I am going to try and focus on racing the race instead of the clock (I am still going to chase that 4:05). By doing this I may see better results and be less likely to give up. I am certainly hoping so.
Have a great weekend everyone, stay tough and remember to TRI!
1/6/2016 04:51:32 am
Mate...GREAT post. Triathlon; it's a funny game, isn't it?
27/2/2021 01:07:39 pm
I enjoyed reading your post
24/9/2022 06:11:40 am
Very thoughttful blog
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I lost 50kgs though triathlon and completed the 2016 70.3 World Championships. Aiming to hit 4:05 for a 70.3, the same time it took me to complete my first Olympic Distance Triathlon. I want to bring as many new people to the sport as possible. Whether you are fit and active or want to make positive changes to your life.