Overcoming Distractions Before a Triathlon
Triathlon is game of focus.
Three different races within one competition can present a myriad of distractions competing for your mind space.
Negative thoughts can pull your focus away from what is important… Focusing on the process or focusing in the present.
Without being fully immersed in your race, you cannot race to the best of your abilities.
Examples of thought distractions include:
- “My stroke feels off.”
- “Cycling is where I lose ground.”
- “I have so much time to make up in the run.”
- “What if I disappoint my coach?”
- “My coach will be upset with my poor showing.”
- “I’m so sore.”
- “The water is cold.”
- “The sun is too bright.”
- “I have to race against my biggest rival.”
Kirsten Sass overcame many potential distractions and scored a major victory at the 2017 USA Triathlon Age Group Sprint National Championships.
Conditions were not optimal for the field as the race started in a light rain shower.
The weather, many times, is a big distraction even hours before a triathlon starts.
SASS: “I wasn’t really sure how close I was to the overall, but my dad was out there saying, ‘Every second counts!’ I wasn’t expecting the rain, so that’s where the mental aspect comes in, just finding your own zone, enjoying the day and seeing all the amazing athletes that are out there.”
Sass was able to stay focused on “”finding her zone” or “racing her race.”
Sass was immersed in the moment and focused on the process.
Sass did not focus on the rain; she knew all the triathletes faced the same conditions.
Sass was not focused on how close she was to a podium finish; she focused on racing each individual leg.
Sass prevailed over all the potential distractions, focused on the process, edged out the field by 34 seconds, finished in 1 hour, 6 minutes, 50 seconds winning the sprint-distance and taking the women’s overall title.
There are some keys when it comes to focus:
- You should know what distracts you. What things tend to knock you off your focus and hurt your performance?
- Once you know your common distraction, you need recognize when your focus is drifting or the warning signs that immediately precede losing focus.
- Lastly, you want to learn a strategy to regroup and refocus on the cues that immerse you in the process of racing. These cues could include your tempo in the swim, getting into a rhythm, staying relaxed and fluid.
It is critical to learn the why’s and how’s to improve the mental skill of focusing to take your triathlon performance to the next level.
Improve Your Competitive Focus:
Create a re-focusing plan to help you get back on track mentally…
What will you do when you are faced with situations that normally distract you? How will you quickly refocus when you first notice your focus is drifting?
An effective re-focusing strategy to add to your plan is a refocusing cue or statement such as, “Breathe,” or, “Re-focus on tempo.”
Having an effective plan in place will help you feel more in control when distractions arise.
Please share our tips with other athletes and coaches who would appreciate them…
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