Fundamentals OF TRIATHLON-
When it comes to the big day- race day- it really boils down to these three fundamentals, and how well you trained within each one. There, of course, is that LUCK element though…. You know, the flat tire, the brutal wind, the flu you got from the four year old on the plane, the mysterious pain that came from no where! This is something to work on with time; how you handle “BAD LUCK”. Do you handle it with grace, or with….let’s call it, “something to work on!” Besides that luck card, we have three things that we can rely on pretty heavily. Let’s start with what I consider the most important.
1. PSYCHOLOGICAL- this is the BIG one. That’s why I have it as el numero uno. Yet, how often do you see PSYCHOLOGICAL written down on your training plan? Well, it ties everything together. What are your thoughts on race morning? How are you setting yourself up for today? Positive words? Do you have a plan for when things start going astray? Your mind guides your body. Yes, sure, after all these years and months of training and imagining your dreams, self conversations, trainings, experimenting, your body knows what to do!!! But what about the inner dialog that YOU are having with yourself? My inner voice is strong, and it’s hard to shut that thing up. It has taken me out of what the small fleeting voice of my body screams from moment to moment; “This is so hard….why do you do this? You don’t need to sign up for another one of these….that person is doing this race with no problem…..my knee hurts….now my hip hurts….my stomach….oh god my stomach…my ssttooooommmmach!” The quicker your trained mind jumps in and reverses these thoughts, and gets you back in the moment, back in your zone, back to your mantras, back to your FORM focus, back to focusing on anything else than the negative—–then you are suddenly in a better position. Our mind is amazing. Have you been training with mantras? Have you been training with specific things to focus on? Have you trained on the rainy days, the windy days, the freezing fricken’ cold days? Did you do some amazing race once? Have you given birth to a child? Why am I asking you this? Because these are things we draw upon. It can be quite simple yet strong- like, “hey, I did my homework, I did my training! I am ready for this”. It can be deeper; “I gave birth to my child- I can do this!”…..”I survived_____”. Often, once you’ve done an Ironman, or a 70.3, you will draw upon that in your difficult times. The ‘six’ mile run is hard on the Olympic distance, and you say, “hey! I’ve done an Ironman! I can do this! Dig in! Come on- I’ve got this!” Your mind is actually your rudder, and with any way the wind blows, you can change it back to the course you want to be on.
2. PHYSICAL- This is actually quite simple. Did or do you not have a training plan? Do you believe in the plan? Did you follow it, to say, 80%? Are you entering the race pretty much injury free? I say, pretty much, because almost ALL of us have at least one injury, usually a few, that we are constantly doctoring and babying. The physical is something that, if you have followed that plan, you know you can do the distances…..you know you are capable, because you’ve done it. Just not all together perhaps! But, if you have put that time in, and, OF COURSE, we have had to adjust here and there for injuries, vacations, and the unexpected house explosion, but, physically I think we show up at the start line knowing what we might be in for.
3. NUTRITIONAL- this is really a wild card I think. So many people with so many different results and testimonials about knowing exactly what will and won’t work. It’s funny what some people swear by, yet at every single conversation they say, “well, I did have a bad stomach during the bike…or…. half way through the run my stomach was about to explode through my back, but it probably was something else.” Ummmmm….try something else then!! Everyone is different! And if you train with it day in and day out, you are much better off! If race day is super hot, it might totally throw you off….or very cold, because you may not be quite inclined to drink water and then it’s easy to become dehydrated. We also have to set ourselves up for success with all the other meals we put into our mouths. It’s not just about what you eat/drink right before you train, or while you train, or 15 minutes after you train. It’s about the other 20 hours of the day!!! This training takes a lot out of us. While it is so healthy and beneficial in so many ways, it also can be detrimental to our body- our cells- our joints- our immune systems- our cell function. So it is crucial to address our everyday dietary intake of nutrients, probiotics, antioxidants, water, etc.
Just promise me one thing; Don’t EVER.EVER..EVER EVER EVER try something new on race day!!!!! From your cute new jogbra, to your brand new (too tight- you know they take a few sessions to get all sweaty and stretched out properly!) awesome Ironman visor, to a new drink, different socks, tasty bar you tried at the Expo and thought it may be yummy when you are at mile 80 on the bike….. DON’T ever try anything new. Capiche? Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zappo nun.
Now, how can one faltering fundamental be saved by the others? Well, when one wains, you better plan on the other two kicking in and getting the third back up. You are weak….Is it nutritional? The brain kicks in and says, “FUEL!” Body kicks in and says, “decrease power for the next 5 minutes.”
Your back is starting to get tight….Brain says, “there is a slight hill up here, let’s get out of the saddle awhile, stretch the back…..How is your form, are you sitting where you should on saddle,….let’s focus on a different muscle group for a bit…let the foot peddle for a bit….focus on the glutes, your stroke,etc.” Those mantras will save you if you have them embedded in your brain and believe in them.
When ones’ body is faltering, you had better hope the other trained elements can bring you back up to speed.
A race is all three. Train all three. Get to know all three. Stay strong in MIND, strong in BODY, strong in SPIRIT. And for luck…., well, I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you:)
Keep smiling and enjoy. We are lucky that not only do we have the desire…BUT we have the ability.