Monday, November 5, 2012

Picture It

If you aren't already in your off-season blissful state (and don't live in New Zealand or Australia where the season is just starting...) you most likely have one final race before the holidays kick in. Last year was the first time I raced so late in the season. I find that I enjoy training for a later season race, but I have to approach it differently.

My season typically starts in March, so by the time November rolls around, I've been racing quite a bit. This season I'm approaching my third Ironman of the year. It can be easy to head out for training, get mid-way into a set and think "I really don't want to hurt anymore." These are a few of the changes in mind-set I use later in the season to keep myself motivated for one final (hopefully fast!) race.

  • Remember that a lot of the fitness gained throughout the entire year is still there.
  • Successfully hitting workouts in training requires a lot more mental toughness - think of it as excellent race day prep. If you can master late-season motivation as the days get darker and training friends drop away, you will be ready to master race day mental battles.
  • Be good to yourself - your body can go hard and deliver a LOT when you ask it to. But let it rest as well. When in doubt at this time of year, don't be afraid to throw in a few extra rest days.
  • As the seasons change - work that into your training benefit. If it's cold out, arrange to have friends meet you for hot drinks at the end of your long ride. If it's turned rainy, drag out the trainer and use the time to catch up on your favorite shows.
  • When the going gets tough - picture the finish line on race day. In fact, picture the different parts of your race and how you see them going the way you would like.
Illustration courtesy Zara Picken.
I honestly believe a huge part of training, racing and being successful in Ironman is mental. Yes, you DO still have to put in the hard work of training. But when it comes down to race day, if you can picture yourself struggling, but then pulling through the other side successfully, on race day there will be no barrier you can't get past. Best of luck to all those racing one final Ironman this season. I hope it is your best one yet!