Thursday, June 2, 2011

Most of you know that I am a USAT Level 1 Certified Triathlon Coach.  I have been coaching at my YMCA now for a little over a year.  It is something I have found I absolutely love, and it has really become a sort of surprise career for me.  I am still a professional flutist and always will be, but now I consider myself to be both coach and musician.

For a while I've been struggling with what direction to take this blog.  I love writing about my training and my days with my family.  I love writing about balance and struggles and triumphs.  But lately I've been feeling a pull to include more content from a coaching perspective.  So today I'm kicking off a weekly (hopefully) post that will focus on some aspect of training.

Turn It Off

As race season approaches I often find myself talking to people who are full of anxiety and fear about an upcoming race.  Just last night I was at a panel discussion for a local triathlon here in Syracuse, and after the discussion was over I was speaking with a woman who literally broke down in tears because she is so worried about the swim portion of the race. She was terribly embarrassed and confessed she felt silly, but at the same time her emotions were very real.  She kept saying she knows she can swim it, and she has put in so many weeks of training, and now a week before, she is freaking out.

I know she isn't the only one who has these anxieties leading up to a race, especially if it's a first triathlon.  Even after 6 years of racing, I have crazy dreams before a race.  I also find I have those voices, those fears, in my head that tell me I'm not ready, I'm not good enough, that I shouldn't be doing this.

What a tragedy to put in months of physical training only to be devastated by what is between our ears on race day!  The good news, though, is that we can train our mind as well.

Here is a little tool I like to use for those negative thoughts and fears that start to come my way as race day approaches.

I picture a light switch, and every time that fear or negative thought starts to creep in my mind, I simply turn the switch off and put that thought in the dark.  I will not shine light onto something that undermines all of my hard work.  Once the thought is in the dark, I replace it with a positive thought.

For example:

"I'm so afraid I will have a panic attack during the swim."
Turn the light switch off.
Replace with a positive:  "I will be calm and peaceful on race day.  My swim will be smooth. I will be relaxed."
Notice that my positive thought was not, "I won't have a panic attack on race day."  I don't want any focus going to the negative idea.  I focus on what I want to happen, not on what I don't want to happen.

Does that make sense?

Try it this week, and you will be amazed at how this simple tool can really change your attitude going into your next race.

Happy training!!


  1. LOVE this! I love the image of turning a light switch off and will definitely be using that! :)

  2. Love this image!

    Great to meet you and Kel!

  3. This is just what I needed to read today. I usually use the phrase "turn it around" but "thur in OFF " is so much more finite, strong. I like it - now, I need to turn off the though I have about the left turn on my bike course this weekend!


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