Hair washing is an elementary example, but it's likely no surprise that this is the formula for success in anything, especially in triathlon. Develop skills, hone your craft, have a plan and repeat daily.
The following practices cultivate a champion's mindset and reinforce the journey to becoming a successful triathlete.
Prepare1 of 6
Don't wake up Monday morning without a plan. Wake up in execution mode with an organized plan laid out either by yourself or with the help of a coach. Ideally, you've spent time looking at the week ahead and scheduling sessions ahead of time. Having a plan alleviates stress and also helps with the preparation of packing the appropriate gear and nutrition. You're also less likely to skip a session when you have it purposefully scheduled and noted on your calendar.
If you find you're consistently frazzled and flustered because you don't know where you should be or what you should be doing, spend time each weekend crafting a simple plan.
Don't wake up feeling overwhelmed. Wake up, put on your training gear and execute.
Understand Pacing2 of 6
Get in touch with your body and the feedback you receive with tools like heart rate monitors and power meters. Throughout training, you've practiced your pacing for both speed work and long sessions. You set a time goal, and now it's time to script how you're going to get there. I often recommend athletes start slower than their goal pace and finish fast. Some people run "even splits" or try to keep their pace relatively the same throughout the race. Regardless of your strategy, know it and practice it many times throughout your training. Don't start too fast and try to bank time. It's a strategy that rarely works and can make you burn out quickly.
Know Your Nutritional Needs3 of 6
This includes both daily nutrition habits and fueling during the race. Eat for performance. This doesn't always mean eating perfectly or "just the right amount" but rather adhering to a more balanced approach to nutrition. This includes whole foods, fruits and vegetables, lean protein and plenty of water.
Write down how many calories you plan to take in and at what mile markers. You may even want to write it down on your hand or set an alarm on your watch to beep when it's time to eat. The best insurance policy against bonking is regular eating intervals; easily digestible calories every 30 to 45 minutes. Practice what works for you, and have your snacks in a spot that's easy to reach during the race.
Know What You Can Control4 of 6
One of the things that causes the most stress in triathlon is fretting about circumstances out of your control. You can't control the weather as much as you'd like to. You can't control other competitors, and you can't necessarily control how your body will react that day. The biggest things you can control on race day are your emotions and reactions to adverse situations. Practice racing with an attitude of joy and appreciation for the opportunity to compete. If things don't go your way, take it in stride, and learn lessons from the experience. Even the most successful triathletes learn the most from their least successful performances.
Stay in the Moment5 of 6
When you get tired or sore, doubts start to creep in, and you begin to think negative thoughts. When your mind wanders away from the task at hand, bring it back by focusing on your breathing, good form and staying as relaxed as possible. Bring your attention to the skills associated with the race, such as quick cadence and relaxed shoulders, and your mind will stay in the present. You can also soak in your surroundings. Admire the hoopla, thank the volunteers and bask in the glory of your body's abilities. You'll never get that moment back, so cherish it.