Saturday, October 18, 2008

Mental Game

I believe that triathlon is much more than simply swimming, biking and running. Nutrition is the "4th Discipline" and then there is the Mental Game. In long course triathlon, you have lots of time for questions to pop into your head.

"Can I do this?"
"Why am I doing this?"
"What did I forget?"
"Did something just touch me under the water?"
"What if I start drowning and the kayakers are looking the other way?"
"How can that gray haired woman with 58 on her calf pass me like that?
"Is something tugging in my calf muscle?"
"Should I have eaten less fried food during this training season?"
"Is my tire going flat?"
"Is this heart rate monitor working correctly?"
"Did I leave the iron on?"

The last one is a joke but this line of reasoning reminds me of a quote I heard recently from a new, good friend. It was also supported by an article I read in this mornings Washington Post about why my Washington Redskins, seemingly on an early season roll, lost last weekend to a winless St. Louis Rams team.

"If your head ain't helping you.... don't use it." - Jim W.

Here is a couple of paragraphs from the article in this morning's Sports section that supports Jim's pearl of wisdom. I believe this piece of sports psychology works for triathlon but can also be applied in my work and personal life, too.

"There's momentum at work, and there's also modeling," Murray said. "You watch your teammate mess up, and you mess up, because for whatever reason you're thinking too much. We need to turn off our brains most of the time to perform well -- not in terms of assignment or technique -- but when you're over-thinking or over-analyzing a situation you interfere with the performance focus.

"When you watch a lion go after his prey, he's not pondering it, he's jumping on it. Over-analysis is good off field when you're developing strategy and goals and getting yourself ready for an event, but once the event begins you should be on autopilot. Getting over-conscious is a precursor to choking. When we start to become aware and analyze our own behavior it's almost like being observed. Rather than stay in a non-self reflective moment, you start to over-analyze things so much you trip on yourself.

1 comment:

The Lazy Triathlete said...

Now thats a great quote!!! I will have to remember that one.

Just remember when you head to for Panama City--turn off the iron!