Mental Training: Emotions

This is part 5 of 6 looking into the mental factors discussed in “The Triathlete’s Guide to Mental Training”. The six factors are motivation, confidence, intensity, focus, emotions, and pain.

Emotional aspects of training and racing are often more taxing than the physical ones.

During the course of your racing and training you will experience the entire spectrum of emotions. You may feel exhilaration, pride, fulfillment, and contentment. You may also feel fear, frustration, disappointment, and despair. Not only will you experience these emotions, but you may feel them regularly, unpredictably, and with increasing force as you move to longer races.

The three emotional challenges that most people face are fear, frustration, and despair.

Fear – Especially in triathlon, many people fear physical harm or even death, most often associated with swimming in open water and riding a bike on a course mixed with cars. There’s also the fear in injury, pain, and of course the fear of failure.
Mastering Fear – the best way to ease your fear is by gaining relevant information, experience, and skills. Be patient, work on overcoming your fear, and as you gain experince, confidence, and comfort, you’ll find that the fear fades.

Frustration – This is the emotion that you feel when your efforts towards your goals are thwarted. I’ve had to deal with frustration a few times over the last few years and I’ve just recently learned how to put past races behind me and move forward. Getting frustrated during a race is a tough thing to overcome.
Mastering Frustration – Shift your thinking in a more positive direction. Remind yourself of how hard you trained and how prepared you are. To alleviate frustration during a race, focus on your body and try to relax. This can be done with deep breathing, muscle relaxation, and of course, just smiling!

Despair – This is the most difficult emotion to deal with because it is carries feelings of finality and hopelessness. Loss of confidence in your ability to continue are often associated with despair. This is basically your body giving up mentally.
Mastering Despair – This starts with understanding its causes. If you can detach yourself from your despair briefly, you can usually identify its cause. In most cases, the cause can be addressed directly (dehydration, calorie depletion, cramps). If the cause cannot be solved directly, you may need to adjust your goals mid-race. For instance, instead of trying to set a PR, maybe you adjust your goal to simply finishing the race, or to only walk through the aid stations.

I’ve really only addressed negative emotions, because those are the ones that are hard to deal with. But positive emotions (enthusiasm, inspiration, pride, satisfaction, and happiness) are the emotions that you should strive for and are great rewards for all of your hard efforts – so enjoy them!



6.2 mile Fartlek Run in 46:38 (7:32 min/mile pace)
This is just another form of interval training. The purpose is to develop speed by running for short distances at a speed significantly higher than the normal strong race pace, with these short runs separated by intervals of easier running or jogging. A Fartlek run is used to develop speed and increase your anaerobic threshold.
There’s no specific intervals that you must use, but I like to add in the speed once every 5 minutes, for 1 minute at a time. So I’ll run 5 minutes at race pace, then run 1 minute all-out, then 5 back at race pace, another 1 minute all-out, etc.
Here’s a graph of my run from Saturday. You can see the increases in speed every 5 minutes. You can also see that it became incresingly harder to find that boost of speed as I finished up my run.



20.33 miles in 1:00:16 for a pace of 20.2 mph
This ride was the exact same one I did last Sunday. I actually did it 3 seconds faster this week, which is insignificant…but my heart rate was lower this week – indicating an improved fitness…which is significant.
Avg HR last week= 144 bpm
Avg HR this week= 142 bpm
Max HR last week= 164 bpm
Max HR this week = 158 bpm

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