Mental Training: Intensity

This is part 3 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.

Intensity is defined as a passionate and serious attitude.

Intensity is made up of two components. The first is what you feel physically, that is, what you actually feel in your body before and during races. The second component involves your perception of intensity.

Intensity produces a wide array of physical and mental symptoms that can help you recognize when your intensity is too high or too low. Here’s some things to look for:

  • Overintensity – muscle tension and breathing difficulties, frustration
  • Underintensity – low energy, lethargy, easily distracted

So what do you do if you find yourself being too intense? Try to breath deep, relax your muscles while riding or running, focus on things that you can control (such as breathing and muscle relaxation), listen to relaxing music before the race, and just try smiling. Trust me, it will force you to relax – it’s hard to have a “game face” when your smiling!

While it’s not as common, some people don’t have enough intensity heading into races or big training sessions. Some things that you can do to psych yourself up are predictably the opposite of the list above. Breath more intensely, move around and get your blood pumping, think positive thoughts (keep attacking, finish strong), and music that gets you pumped up. Try some Metallica or Jay-Z…leave the John Mayer at home!

Here’s some good “Game Faces” to practice if you find that you don’t have enough intensity:

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