Five Mental Techniques you can do in Five Minutes

Triathlete resting after an interval
January 8, 2017

Mike Ricci


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Triathlon workouts take time. A two-hour ride takes, well, two hours. Fortunately, mental training is quite fast, even just a few seconds.

Take this fast mental conditioning to an extreme: here are five mental conditioning techniques that you can do in five seconds each. Yes, five seconds. Try these:

1. **Breathe.**
  - Step 1: Think of a situation that causes you to have some fear. It could be anything, triathlon-related or not. Hold your breath. On a scale of 1-10 (one is low, 10 is high), how intense is your fear feeling right now when you put yourself in that situation? Put a number on it.
  - Step 2: Now, do four deep breaths, inhales and exhales.
  - Step 3: Feel that fear feeling now, and assess how intense is the feeling (1-10 scale). Compare to before you did the deep breathing. Now you have excitement, not fear.

2. **Make a good feeling bigger.**
  - Step 1: Think of something you really like and enjoy for its own sake. Maybe you want to keep this personal; that’s your decision. Make a picture in your mind’s eye of this thing or event or activity.
  - Step 2: Make the image bigger and closer, just a little and not too much, and notice how the intensity of the enjoyment increases.
  - Step 3: Once the intensity of the feeling stops increasing and starts to diminish, stop enlarging the image, make it just a little smaller, and leave it there. Enjoy the feeling.

3. **Make an unpleasant feeling smaller.**
  - Step 1: Recall an unpleasant feeling. Maybe it’s that bonky feeling you get when you run out of fuel or the butterflies in your stomach you get before a race.
  - Step 2: Locate the precise place in your body where you feel this physical sensation, a place you can point to in your body.
  - Step 3: Reduce the size of the feeling by seeing it get smaller and smaller until it is about pinpoint size.
  - Step 4: Assess the intensity of the feeling and notice how much it has diminished.

4. **View through a camera.**
  - Step 1: Think of another experience that you don’t like. It could be getting a flat tire on the bike or having an argument with your child or an unpleasant episode at work. Make a clear picture in your mind’s eye of this unpleasant thing.
  - Step 2: Imagine that you are seeing you over there, through a small, grainy, black-and-white TV screen like the ones that you see in the movies in the security room.
  - Step 3: Notice how the unpleasant feeling has diminished.

5. **Smile.**
  - Step 1: Frown as hard as you can and say aloud, “I feel great.” That was unconvincing.
  - Step 2: Smile as hard as you can and say, “I feel terrible.” Notice that you just can’t do it.
  - Step 3: Smile and say, “I feel terrific.” That’s better.

Whenever you feel bad, whenever you have doubts, whenever things are going astray, just smile. Smile when you hurt. Smile when you feel great. Smile when you feel worried. Smile when you feel confident.

Try all five of these five-second fixes and see which one you like best. Then use it, or any of them, or all of them, whenever you need.

Will Murray is a sought-after mental skills coach for endurance athletes and is D3 Multisport athletes’ favorite coach for assistance with concerns such as open water swim fears or descending hills fast! Learn more about Will and how his strategies can transform your race day experience by clicking on the contact us button below.

Coach Mike Ricci is the Founder and Head Coach for D3 Multisport.  His coaching style is ‘process-focused’ vs. ‘results-focused.’ When working with an athlete, their understanding of how and why they are improving is always going to take precedence over any race result. Yes, there is an end goal, but in over 2 decades of coaching, experience has shown him that if you do the right work, and for the right reasons, the results will follow.

Coach Mike is a USAT Level III Elite Certified Coach, Ironman University Certified Coach, and Training Peaks Level II Certified Coach. He was honored as the USAT Coach of the Year.

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