This Mental post is straight from Troy. When we came back from Florida our car battery was dead at the Park-N-Ride and we had to call AAA and wait for them to send someone out to jump us. While we were sitting there, we both started getting in a foul mood when Troy came up with this great game. The reason I want to post it as a mental monday is because I think it would be really useful for after a race. Racing this weekend with lots of friends I realized that although everyone had great performances, athletes process their performances in different ways, some healthy and rational, and some very destructively.
The feelings that you take away from a race (in my humble opinion) will completely dictate how long you stay in this sport. It's like loosing weight. If you look in the mirror every morning and say "I'm so fat, youck, I need to get this weight off" you won't ever make the lifestyle change to loose the weight. It's the same with triathlon. If you choose to find and internalize all the negative experiences of your race, after awhile your brain is going to realize that you aren't having any fun at this sport. At that time, you will quit the sport.
How much fun you have at a race, and the memories that you will have about the race come from what you let yourself think about. Sometimes you have to ignore the things about your race that were less than desirable, but again, it's a choice.
So Troy came up with a fun game that he and I went through and I tell you, it helped to really solidify those positive feelings that are so necessary to creating warm fuzzy memories. I'll put my answers here to give you an idea of how it goes.
The Best Part Game What was the best part of your pre-race experience? Mine was driving to the race with Troy with the music blaring and singing as loud as I knew how. What was the best part of the swim? Seeing starfish on the bottom of the ocean floor. What was the best part of the first transition? Looking at my watch and seeing 29 minutes and feeling super happy. What was the best part of the bike? Coming back in and hearing Troy cheering like crazy. His loud booming voice got me all fired up. What was the best part of the second transition? Having the clarity and experience to tell myself to stop and take a deep breath. What was the best part of the run? Passing one of the disabled athletes and suddenly feeling the overwhelming appreciation for the fact that I am able to run. Feeling the tears well up because of it. What was the best part of your post race experience? Sitting on the side cheering with Michelle, Michael and Troy.
So next time you race, give it a try. Especially if you have some disappointments. Just remember it's okay to just let go of disappointments. If you have the experience to learn from them, then do that too, but many times, it's just best to dump them in the "Oh, well" bucket. Cut yourself some slack, give yourself a break, and remember, if you beat yourself up about your race, you WON'T race harder next time because of it. Believe me on that one. Just like with dog training, negative reinforcement doesn't work.