The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Ignore

[caption id="attachment_8914" align="alignright" width="300"]mind - training - triathlon - ironman Training Your Mind Is Not Just About Pushing It
Source: Triple Threat Triathlon[/caption] As endurance athletes we are extremely in tune with our bodies.  We know when we have the slightest hitch in our step.  We know the moment that our hunger strikes.  We can tell you what our pace and our heart rate is while out on a ride or run without looking at our watch.  What we fail to do a lot of times is connected to our mind.  Our brain has a way of getting pushed to the side so we can go one more mile, one more lap, one more step or lift one more weight. During a training session and especially in a race we tell our mind to shut up.  We ignore it because that is what we are trained to do but there are instances when ignoring your mind can be detrimental to your progression in your chosen sport.  When you are tired because you were up all night watching football or Sons Of Anarchy and the alarm goes off at 4am, do you jump out of bed or hit the snooze and then finally get out of bed to go run 5 miles?  Would that time be better spent getting more rest so that when you do go for that 5 mile run you feel good as opposed to just getting it in? That scenario happened to me and instead of getting out of bed at 4am to put on running shorts and put in 5 miles I slept another hour.  After waking up I made coffee and enjoyed the time before I took my step-son to school.  After dropping him off I went for my 5 mile run and it was during the run that I thought to myself: such a better idea to have waited than to have gone out there half-asleep and not enjoyed the run.  I know that there are days that we have to get that run in at that time because it is a packed day and there is no other time to do it.  Those things happen but they probably happen less often than you think.  Not everyday is packed to the gills with things to do.  You can shuffle training sessions around and still be prepared for your next race.  There is no reason to put yourself in a box and not allow yourself a chance to get out. Our mind can be our own worst enemy during training because we are going to push ourselves but there are moments when we need to pull back on the reins.  Today I know for sure that I do not want to jump into any structured training and so I am pushing off Oilman (as of today.)  The reason is that my mind is not ready to be wrapped around a set training schedule.  Last night as I was planning out the rest of this week to make sure I got in somewhere between 125 and 150 miles of cycling I almost stopped short and pulled the plans out of training peaks because they suddenly felt like a huge albatross around my neck.  I am not specifically training for anything and if I fall short of 650 miles who really cares?  This is my point about how the mind can be one of our worst enemies.  I set out a goal and now I am trying to figure out everything I can to get myself there, but for what reason? During Ironman training there are certain workouts that cannot be missed, but if you treat every workout that way by the time you hit those essential sessions you could be burnt out and your mind could prevent you from executing the plan the way it was designed.  By understanding what the end goal is and what it takes to get there you can set yourself up for success without burning out.  Talk to your coach, or other triathletes if you are self-coached, about how you feel on a daily basis.  You don't have to call them, but put it into your log.  Track how you felt before, during and after each workout.  If you start noticing trends with workouts then make adjustments or your coach will make them for you. Last week I spoke to Maria about the upcoming season and what is left of 2014 and I came to the realization that I was tired mentally toward the end of IMTX training.  I had been pushing and pushing and pushing and didn't allow my mind a moment to sit back and relax.  I enjoyed my training because I feel free when I am out there but my body was telling my mind something and my mind was ignoring it instead of synching them together.  My passion has been getting reignited with registration of Ironman Chattanooga and I know when I am ready to enter into structured training it will be with a relaxed mind and body.  I also know that I will allow myself the opportunity to not be strangled by the training plan.  If Maria wants 3 hours on the bike and I get in 2:51 and my loop is done then I am going to be done as well.  There will be no reason to continue to ride for 9 minutes as I will not be building any fitness in those 9 minutes. Experience is going to play a large part in this next go round with training.  I know what my body is capable of and hopefully my past experiences will teach my mind what it is also capable of.  This experience coupled with the time off should lead to a successful training cycle and one in which I will be able to join club members on rides and runs and piece together sessions that maximize my time while allowing my body and mind to recover properly.

Do Not Underestimate The Power That Rest Has On Your Mind.

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Jason Bahamundi

About the Author:

I grew up in New York and lived there for 34 years until I got divorced and moved 1600 miles to my new home in Texas.  I love New York and miss it but that does not mean that Texas hasn’t been great to me because it has.  It was here that I discovered endurance sports and specifically the sport of triathlon.  Triathlon has given me new life through all the challenges it presents.  I no longer look at life the same way and I can say that is in part due to my endeavor into this sport.

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