Triathletes invest in their sport time, effort, emotion, and funds. You invest in running and cycling shoes, a bike, swim goggles and a wetsuit for starters. Then you may shell out for a Garmin device, a lactic threshold test and a blood test to check for micronutrients and balanced physiology.
Some athletes believe that their absolutely most important investment is in a smart, competent, experienced and supportive coach, who writes your training plan, provides race advice, works through your emerging issues, keeps you injury-free and has your back.
Sometimes, as an athlete, you might have doubts whether if it’s worth all this investment. Or, more truly, have doubts that you are worth the investment. This doubt can be temporary. You have one disappointing track session, but the next day your tempo run goes fine, and the doubt shrinks in the rearview mirror. But sometimes these doubts are more deep and stubborn.
Masters swimming: “Oh, I don’t swim well enough to take up lane space from the real swimmers.” Group runs: “Oh, they don’t want somebody like me slowing things down.” Group rides: “What if I get dropped?” A coach: “A coach, for me? I’m nobody. I’m not the kind of person who deserves a coach. I’m not good enough.”
If any of these prickly little phrases sounds familiar, don’t fret. There are answers.
The technique below requires work. You actually must do the steps, as though you were with your coach and she is expecting you to carry out the instructions. When you are doing a swim workout, you actually must swim and not just read about swimming—you follow the coach’s direction. To get ready to do the next steps, round up a pencil and paper (not optional). Take your time. I’ll wait until you are ready. Now? Okay, let’s go.
Step 1. Articulate your goals and reasons for doing triathlon.
You may be striving for a healthy lifestyle and general fitness. If you have aspirations beyond this, such as finishing a longer distance race, achieving a personal record or qualifying for a championship race, having a clear, written goal statement is indispensable. You already know the trick—write your goal statement (e.g. qualify for USA Triathlon Age Group Nationals) on a piece of paper and stick it to your refrigerator or your bathroom mirror.
Step 2. Ask yourself, in the privacy of your own mind, “Am I worthy enough to pursue that goal?”
Notice carefully any response you get. If no response, wait a few moments, then ask, quietly, the question again.
Step 3. Notice whose voice is answering the question.
Carefully listen, not so much to the answer, but to the voice providing the response. Is it your voice? Or someone else’s voice? Or a blend, a small chorus of different voices? Notice carefully who does this sound like? When you have a clear sense of who is answering your question go to the next step.
Step 4a. If the voice is someone else’s ask, “What is your positive intention for me?”
Wait for a response. If the response makes sense to you, great. If not, ask, “What is important about that?” Wait for an answer. Keep asking this same question, “What is important about that?” until you get an answer that makes sense to you. Thank the voice each time you get a response. Go to Step 6.
Step 4b. If the responding voice is your voice ask “What is your positive intention for me?”
Wait for a response. If the response makes sense to you, great. If not, ask, “What is important about that?” Wait for an answer. Keep asking this same question, “What is important about that?” until you get an answer that makes sense to you. Thank the voice each time you get a response.
Step 5. Ask the responding voice, “How old are you?” and notice the response.
If the responding voice is younger than your present chronological age, ask this (exactly as stated here): “Without giving anything up, and while keeping everything you have, would you like to gain all the experience and wisdom available to you to advance to [your current age] or beyond?” If the response is positive, allow the part to grow up to your current age and ask it to tell you when it is done.
Step 6. Imagine your next big event.
This could be a key workout session, a race, or even that masters swim that you have been putting off. See yourself, over there, performing exactly as you wish you would. Start a color movie at the beginning and run it to the end of this event. Make this image run perfectly, as you are the director and you can have the image run exactly to your desires.
If the image runs well, run it again in fast motion so that it takes five or ten seconds total.
Step 7. Return to the responding voice in Step 4 and ask, “Do you have any objection to having the image run that way?”
If there are no objections, your work is finished. If you receive objections, repeat Step 4.
The way you make progress toward your goals is to stretch and pursue improvements. The way you pursue is to recognize the worth in the pursuit, and the worth in you. The way you do that is to act as if you are worth it, that you truly do deserve it, and then go do what a deserving person would do.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Who am I not?’” Marianne Williamson
D3's go-to Mental Skills expert Will Murray works with beginners to Olympians helping them use their heads to do more than just hold their hats! In addition to being a triathlete himself, Will is a USAT Certified Coach, holds a practitioner certificate and more than 100 hours of advanced training in Neuro-Linguistic Programming. He helps athletes fix the issues that are holding them back.
Andreas, S. (2012). Transforming negative self-talk: Practical, effective exercises. New York, NY: W. W. Norton.
Andreas, S. (2012). More transforming negative self-talk: Practical, effective exercises. New York, NY: W. W. Norton.