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Wednesday, August 04, 2010

My Favorite Things Giveaway: Triathlete's Guide to Mental Training


I am very often a victim of my own head. Growing up, I played baseball and then later, softball. I was a pretty good athlete, but if I put too pressure on myself, I'd suck it up perform poorly, to say the least (bottom of the ninth, two outs, bases loaded, go ahead and guess what happened if I got stuck in my own head.)

When I began to lose the post-partum weight, I had to play mindgames with myself to keep myself motivated. I'd pretend there were only 10 pounds to lose and work on losing 10 (it was wayyyyy more than 10 that I really needed to lose, but I couldn't look at the big number. It was impossible.) I'd trick myself into believing I was "training" for something rather than "working out to lose weight." Hey, whatever gets me out the door, right?

When I eventually began to train for triathlons, I had a fear of swimming in the ocean. I was never afraid of the ocean before, I always played in it and boogie-boarded and all of that, but I never swam from point A to point B before and honestly, it kind of freaked me out! Especially if I swam with my triathlon group in the murk. I hate the murk.

So I started trying to "train" my head the same way I tried to train my head for weight-loss. I found mantras to repeat, songs to sing, I would focus inward rather than focus on the "external elements," only some of which actually helped. And I found a book online, which did help. Tremendously.  This book: The Triathlete's Guide to Mental Training, by Jim Taylor, Ph.D., and Terri Schneider.

untitledNow, I know you're thinking that you have to be training for a triathlon to have this book, but it's not true, it's just not. This book may focus on triathlon and use triathlon scenarious, but the techniques in it can be used for any area where you are mentally struggling.

I bought this book solely on one review I saw at Amazon and it was this:

"...this book would help any athlete (regardless of discipline) in turning mental weaknesses into strengths."

That's why I bought it. And it's true. We spend so much time training our bodies that we fully neglect the mental aspect of training, which is how to push through to the end, through the pain, how to overcome fear and negative thinking, how to literally control your thoughts and overcome your preconceived limitations. And we all tend to stunt our own growth in some form or another.

Well I got the book and went right through it once and I'm on my second go-round. I tend to "dog ear" pages that are important to me and my husband commented to me about how many pages I've dogeared ("if you dog ear the whole book, it negates the whole reason for dog-earing..." or something like that). But I love so many things, so many things are worth going back to. It covers everything from confidence to how your body physically handles stresses to how you can retrain your mind to overcome anxieties.

There are inspiring stories and quotes from amazing athletes who have fought their own demons. Honestly, I don't care where you are in the process of healthy living, everyone has demons to fight. I would even say that in my own world, the physical part of weight-loss or training makes up about 10% of the whole picture. It's the mental part that gets me out the door, that gets me to the water's edge, that gets me through the panic, that gets me home and wanting to do it all again. So why WOULDN'T I train that part too?

It almost seems silly.

One of my other favorite quotes:

"Confidence allows you to take risks. Risks allow you to be confident and will give you breakthrough performances. Without risks and challenges you may not believe you can press forward. Confidence gives you the belief you can." - Victor Plata, 2004 U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team

And I want to note here that his reference to "breakthrough performances" doesn't mean "gold medal" to me. It means getting out there and getting home and actually wanting to do it all again. I think he means running 5 minute miles after swimming and biking, but for me it's just being able to want to train in the first place. I'm not trying to win a title or anything, I'm just trying to challenge myself to do things or even just try things that I never thought I would or could do before. That's the "breakthrough" to me.

So I love this book. And I thank VeloPress for offering it up for a giveaway. Yes, it's great for triathlon training, but please enter even if you're not. There are so many tools in it that I wish I had armed myself with before I even thought about triathlon.

And who knows? Maybe triathlon's in your future too. (Why NOT! It should be. I'm just sayin.)

The rules for the giveaway:

  • Leave a comment telling me what your biggest mental obstacle is in weightloss, fitness, or any other area of your life is that plagues you (and further, if you've conquered it or not!)
  • For a second entry, tweet or blog about the giveaway.
Please leave a comment for each entry. Giveaway ends tonight at 11:59 p.m. ET to give way to the next giveaway announcement at midnight Thursday because this week is for celebrating my new place!

While you're here, it's Workout Wednesday! I've also posted about my dream of becoming Demi Moore along with 10 of my 101 Fitness Tips, so go check it out! The end.


Kirsten said...

My biggest mental hurdle is pushing myself. Actually right now it's having someone else push me, Coach Joe. Because I'm not feeling motivated right now, but knowing that I asked him to make things hard for me and he did - now I have to push and see if I can reach those goals...because right now they look pretty damn daunting.

Anonymous said...

My biggest obstacle is that I talk myself out of working out. There always seems to be something "better" to do. It's a real struggle to just get that foot out of the door.

Anonymous said...

Tweet, Tweet!

Tiffany said...

My biggest mental hurdle is believing I am worth it and then going the WHOLE distance instead of 99% of the distance... Looks like a great read!

Brooke said...

not being obessive. its a constant battle in my head "you're doing too much and will hurt yourself" "You're not doing enough you lazy fart"

Brooke said...

tweet tweet!

Allyson said...

You and I sound exactly alike i have to be "training" for something otherwise working out just doesn't happen and when I am losing weight if I think about the big picture I am done, forget it, but if i say i want to lose 10 pounds then i could do it. Im a huge victim of being in my own head.

Audrey said...

My biggest mental hurdle is telling myself I don't have time. Once I'm out the door and going I'm good.

Audrey said...


Mommy Mo said...

My biggest hurdle is my, myself and I, specifically the little red devil that sits on my shoulder and throws doubt in my face. I want to squash that doubt with my fist!

Mommy Mo said...

tweet tweet!

Beki said...

My biggest hurdle is shutting up my step mom. She's no longer a part of my life (long sad story for another time), but her negativity sticks in my brain. Sometimes I think I work twice as hard to be good at something to shut her up!

When I finished my first sprint tri I have never felt as proud of myself as I should, because I "didn't have a good finish time" But OMG I finished! I've still never been proud of this accomplishment. I feel like the water won. I has taken me almost 4 months to say that I want to do another sprint triathlon.

I want to shut up all negativity (I also call it the Itty Bitty Shitty Committee) for good!

Tiffany said...

Tweet, Tweet...

Beki said...

Tweeted! :D

Jason Hurdlow said...

My body rebelling is my biggest hurdle. When I work out very much my shoulders/neck/upper-back go into lock-up mode and it can take days or weeks to loosen them up again. Very frustrating. I'm training now for my first sprint triathlon, and while my legs/lungs/etc... are cooperating well so far, my shoulders are requiring constant work to keep them from going AWOL on me.

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My Favorite Quotes

"Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it." - Bill Cosby

I tri because one day I didn't believe in myself. And then one day I did.

"I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of a man is to live, not to exist." - Jack London

Some people think it's holding on that makes one strong- sometimes it's letting go.

"Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History."- Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Live life PASSIONATELY, laugh OUT LOUD, love UNCONDITIONALLY. - from my spoon rest.

"The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire." - Ferdinand Foch