by Coach Kelli Montgomery
It’s been a long cold snowy winter in Connecticut and I know everyone is really ready for spring to arrive. I know I am, I’m a total summer lover! As a coach and athlete I find the tail end of February and March seem to be the toughest months for area triathletes. We all are just itching for an outdoor ride, but the snow is still piled high. It’s easier to get unmotivated to train and focus on the uncooperative weather. Once you start saying to yourself I can’t take this weather anymore and I can’t do one more long ride or run inside you’ve set yourself a mental road block.
Its not just weather road blocks that you can set up, but other ones as well that can derail your success. Instead of focusing on what you can’t change or control (the negative) you need to focus on what you can do at that point in time and what positives can be gained from it.
This takes a bit of mental flexibility on your part to work with what you have at the moment. What positive element can you focus on for todays workout? For example you are stuck on the treadmill for long run, ok what can I gain? How about focusing on running with good form and high cadence (96 stride rate), also the consistent long treadmill run helps to build what I call the metronome running (ability to consistently and efficiently with rhythm pound out the miles at consistent pace). Add some hill grades to break up the time and build some run strength. That’s just one example of staying flexible and focusing on what you can do in the moment to keep you on track.
I really learned how to hone this powerful skill myself which helped me recover from the car accident. I realize now on how important it was for my success in recovery not only physically but mentally. One example was I couldn’t run at higher speeds on the treadmill and look down at the dash to see the time without loosing my balance (due vestibular concussion), so rather than just give up and set a road block for myself I bought a large digital clock and hung it right at eye level. It allowed me to do the workout and worked on retraining my brain at the same time. It also gave me satisfaction and the feeling of success from completing the workout and not letting the accident define me. Again working with what you have at the moment and being flexible.
Another part of not setting the road blocks is having a goal you really want to achieve in mind. You can rely on this when it gets tough because at some point that will happen. You’ll need to stay determined to your goal even if it seems at the time impossible you need to keep plugging away. Think of every workout as one more added to the fitness bucket that you’ll use later down the line come race time. You want to fill that bucket up high!
And all the while as you work thru each workout or challenge you’ll be increasing your mental toughness by sticking with it. And in triathlon you need a lot mental toughness to race to your potential.
And don’t forget to pat yourself on the back each time you work thru something or check that workout off. Realizing your success is as an important motivator to keep yourself motivated for the next challenge. So next long run, bike indoors, or other challenge that you work thru tell yourself yes I did it, nice job!