How to nail racing overseas

“Wooohooo BOOM I did it coach! 1.28.56 (50 second PB) And a podium  to top it off. So happy thank you coach you got me the goal we were searching for!!” ~Athlete Andy Rogers

Now this is the kind of message you like to read on waking up on a Monday morning! Andy executed his race plan to a tee, and his hard work paid off.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

There’s nothing quite like a race in a different country / city you have never visited before. The excitement of deciding what to pack, the nerves of travel, the research, the sightseeing when you arrive. Preparing for a race in a different time zone is not only exciting it is also more challenging in managing the long haul travel, the stop overs, the and the jet lag. Ensuring an athlete is able to recover from the travel and feel fresh and ready on race day can be the most challenging part of an overseas travel prep. Last week, we had not one, but two athletes head over for the San Fransisco Half Marathon, and they not only nailed their preparation, they nailed the travel AND their races. Three from three! Read on to find out how their races went….

ANDY ROGERS: 1:28.56, PODIUM –  3RD M45-49!

CPC: Tell us, what was the San Fransisco Half Marathon like? One word – AMAZING! It’s such an incredible city and we had an amazing time. I love being able to incorporate our love for travel with our love for fitness and racing.

A 6.15am start made for our first race starting in the dark, but when you are doing it in a city such as San Fran, it is actually truly spectacular. 6000 Men and Women all with their own stories to why they were led to a very exciting start line in San Francisco. For me, it was about two things: my own achievement and trying to reach my own goals, but also celebrating an event with our overseas family (I’m from the UK but now live in AUS). The 6 all entered the race, and all had our own journeys to get to this day, and it was very emotional and for us to be able to stand together at the end of the race with our medals. It was the greatest feeling ever and something that we all will never forget.

Course highlights:

  • The Golden Gate Bridge – running over this iconic bridge was something!
  • Flaghill – where soldiers held flags every 10 meters cheering you up the very steep hill, gave you goosebumps.
  • The 190mt downhill finish line with 100’s of spectators cheering you home was simply incredible!

CPC: SOOO: Tell us, how does it feel to PB and podium in the same race, seems you nailed it?! 

On a personal front, I ran a pretty much perfect race plan from start to finish. Sticking to a plan and never losing sight of it, even with some very testing hills to challenge me on the course. I went in searching for a PB and PB is what I got! 1.28.54 (50 second PB) 3rd age group, 50th overall. 🙂

As much as being able to achieve your own goals is amazing, being able to share these kinds of experiences with loved ones is simply incredible.

 

CPC: As an athlete that isn’t getting any younger, you still seem to manage to be improving. What do you think has been the biggest contributor to this?  And how has having a coach helped with your achievement?

ANDY: There are a number of factors, including my diet – nutrition plays a big part in being able to fuel your body correctly and recover  well to gain maximum performance. My training program (although I had to manage an injury late on) has been perfect. Low k’s generally looking after my (older) body and listening too it. Not been afraid to call a rest day or to cut a session short.

Practicing my race day nutrition in training sessions and setting out a detailed race nutrition plan was important to ensure I had dotted all the I’s and crossed all the T’s. Like I said before my race was THE PERFECT RACE, I don’t think you get a whole load of these in your life, but it really was spot on, and I can thank my coach for that!

Having a coach on TAP has just been amazing and crucial to my continued performance. Without a coach I wouldn’t have been able to make adjustments to my plan with my knowledge, so having a coach has just made it so easy. To be able to drop a text or a quick phone call to ask a few questions which is then discussed and an answer to a question quickly resolved.

The last 3 weeks was very testing with the onset of a niggling injury, but there is no way I could have made it to the start line in the shape I did and made the wise choices I made without the support of Sarah. Just like my IM achievement under her guidance, ‘WE’ achieved this PB. Thanks so much Coach for your continual support, you are amazing and know exactly how to get the best out of me and I cant wait to set and achieve my next goal with you!

LISA GROVE 2:28.11, sub 2:30 goal achieved, along with loosing 13kg! 

CPC: Just a few short months ago you weren’t able to run 5km without stopping, and now you’ve just smashed a half marathon! How did you find the training, and the race itself? 

LISA: I’m not going to hide the fact that I didn’t particularly enjoy running, I found it a tough slog. But since I decided to do the San Fran half marathon I’ve had no regrets, and dare I say now enjoy running?! 🙂

During my training plan with Sarah, I’ve shredded 13 kilos and over 55cm in my measurements. This has helped make running a lot easier that’s for sure! Not having ran for years apart from run / walk park run, there was only one place to start. 5k run walking we continued to gradually build on that each week until two weeks out from race-day I ran a 19km training run and knew I was ready! The thought of that extra 2.1k didn’t worrying me at all, but the hills I knew I had to tackle did. I had to mentally prepare myself for what was going to be a hilly course and this was the only thing that was going to stop me in my goal chase. But it was never going to happen my mind was in the right place my pre race build was perfect and we were ready to do it come the gun.

Sarah talked me through some great strategies to try if things weren’t going my way on race day (luckily i didn’t need these) so I just focused on hitting each of my race day targets – to slowly run all the hills, then as got to come back over the bridge I could have a quick walk to reset (12km mark) then walk through the last couple of water stations where I needed.

CPC: What did you find the most challenging about your journey, along with the most rewarding?

LISA: The most challenging part of my journey was running at a weight that was uncomfortable but of course the most rewarding part of my journey was losing those kgs, beginning to enjoy running again and feeling great and comfortable. And being able to share this experience of training and running with my partner Andy and being able to make him proud of me and my sister/coach proud of me, makes all the blood sweat and tears worth it. Who knows one day I may just think about doing a full marathon…. but not on a hilly course lol.

CPC: And the result? !

LISA: Sub 2:30.!!! Get in there.!!! Far out the hills were nuts.!  1km in and a big hill climb, 6kms in and another big winding hill climb, a gradual hill up both sides of the Golden Gate Bridge plus another big hill 1km from the finish line! But the views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and the San Francisco skyline for almost all of my run kept me going. The support along the course was brilliant and the support of Andy and his family at the end cheering me down the last hill got me to my sub 2:30 goal! Thanks heaps coach you’ve helped me 100% to get me to the start and finish line of this race. And hopefully many more to come. Thank-you so so much for all your help, support and guidance.

Full details and race results here. 

Great start to 2019 !

Wow, what a way to start the racing year in 2019! Long forgotten already is Christmas and New Year, with athletes already a couple of weeks deep into their New Years training, and racing kicked off in Victoria over the weekend, with other key races not too far away and will be upon us before we know it. We have such a wide variety of races being targeted in the next 6 months including: 

2XU Triathlon Series
Maitland Tri Club Local Races
Ironman 70.3 Geelong – 17 Feb
Puka Up Ride 2019 – March
Tri Forster Ultimate – 30 March
Ironman South Africa – 7 April
San Francisco Half Marathon – 7 April
Challenge Melbourne – 14 April
Ironman & 70.3 Port Macquarie – 5 May
Tour de Cure – May
Ironman & 70.3 Cairns – 9 June

Plus loads more local racing – so much racing, and so much variety, it’s an exciting and busy first half of the year for athletes (and Coach!) 😉

RACING RETURNS 
The weekend saw racing return to Victoria to kick start 2019 and spanned from one side of the bay to the other.

Pier to Pub
On Saturday, Lorne hosted the historic Lorne Pier to Pub – a 1.2km swim fro the iconic Lorne Pier back to the Lorne Lifesaving Club. It’s such an awesome event held along the sea side town of Lorne on the Great Ocean Road, and also includes a 5000m swim, and ‘Mountain to Surf’ Trail run event.  But really – it’s the famous ‘pier to pub’ swim that has competitors enter a ballot months in advance to secure a coveted spot on the starting line.

This year we had athlete Robyn Bourke race as part of her annual training, and preparation this year into Geelong 70.3 and finished in a time of 22:17. A great chance for a race specific open water swim and gain the confidence leading into next months race.

 

2XU Race 3, StKilda

A great morning and a great conditions at St Kilda for Race 3 of the series. The breeze picked up as the morning went on, but actually provided a little relief on the run when it started to heat up. But otherwise a great morning for some solid racing!

We had a small contingent of athletes racing, with others opting to continue their training build without this race, and with Race 4 at Elwood just 3 weeks away, there is plenty of chances to get that racing fire power.

We had some great results including podiums, and some confidence boosting racing leading into further key races. Congrats to Kara Landells who secured herself another podium for the season finishing 2nd 25-29F in the sprint, and Mal McCleod who also continued his consistent season finishing 3rd Clydesdale in the sprint – and the fastest bike split in his category.

Robyn Bourke backed up her Pier to Pub yesterday with the Olympic Distance today and had a fine race! Robyn only commenced coaching with CPC in November last year and has grown immensely in such a short time. She finished with a solid race, hitting her target of just on 3hours, with a sub 1hr run – best of all she felt great all race and is well on track for a great 70.3 in Geelong.

Shout out to athlete Narelle Crooks who after a super start to her race and flying on the bike, had a mishap which left her on the bitumen and nursing some nasty bumps, lumps and grazes. A disappointing end to her day yesterday, but no doubt will be back with even more gusto at next race. Sending you fast healing vibes Narelle!
Full race results here.

Check out our pics here from the days racing

A shout out also goes to Jamie and his team at JET Coaching for hosting us for the day! 

Two Bays Trail Run – 56km ultra
Think of trail running and you can picture running along beautiful scenic trails, amongst trees and nature, an adventure outside of the city. Add to that a trail run that is an ultra distance (56km) that goes from Bushrangers Bay (Cape Schanck) to Dromana (Port Phillip Bay) and return, including up and over Arthurs Seat with over 1000m of elevation, and all of a sudden you had a trail run that is not just a huge test on the body, both a mammoth test for the mind and ones mental fortitude. The Two Bays Trail Run Ultra 56km

Athlete Scott Memery has taken on the 28km distance at this event the past couple of years and this year decided on the double distance – a chance to test himself over this ultra endurance event. Scott is no stranger to endurance racing, previously competing in Ironman, but ask anyone, and ultra distance running can rival that of Ironman.

The day provided pretty warm and tough conditions for competitors, when in the bush trails there was little breeze and the heat and humidity was always going to be a factor and make for an even tougher day on what is already a tough day! 🙂

Scott went into this event super prepared, managing his time between training, recovery, work, family and volunteering and a huge credit to him he pretty much nailed his preparation. We had a goal of sub 6hours going into the event and with a solid race, nutrition and hydration plan and the day was then all about managing the body as the race went on.

“Very tough day for everyone, I’ve never seen so many people walking and struggling so much…. We only got the benefit of the breeze when out in the open, through the bush(majority of the trail) there was no breeze and felt bloody hot… It was a huge mental battle to keep going, while still trying to go under the 6hrs…. I passed a group of four with about 1.5k to go but told them they’d been in front of me most of the day and deserved to finish ahead of me so I slowed to allow that to happen, while keeping my target in mind. It wasn’t about finishing positions for me today. 
Legs are absolutely shagged, toes sore but other than that I actually feel pretty good. Thank you again for all your support!”

Finish time: 5hrs 58min! 

What an achievement Scott ! Now time to ice up, rest up, sleep up and eat up (and maybe avoid stairs for a few day!) 😉

.

~ ~ ~~ ~ ~ ~~ ~ ~ ~
Sarah is the Director & Head Coach at Complete Per4mance Coaching. Sarah qualified for the Ironman World Champs in her first Ironman attempt at Ironman Melbourne 2013 (also achieving a podium place in the same race), going on to compete in Kona that same year.

Sarah shares her 10 years of coaching and racing experience, knowledge and education with athletes of all levels to help them achieve their optimal performance while maintaining a balanced, happy and healthy life.

Contact Sarah to discuss training and coaching options for you.

 

How to qualify for Ironman World Championships Kona

SO – YOU WANT TO QUALIFY FOR KONA!   

The IRONMAN World Championships in Kailua-Kona. For most triathletes it’s the main event, the pinnacle of the sport, the holy grail of long course racing. And to race there is something that many triathletes dream of, to wonder what it would be like to experience the race. To line up on the shores and take those first few strokes in Kailua Bay waiting for that canon to go off. Of riding into the distant Lava fields of the Queen K, of rounding the final bends and descent down Palani drive and finally reaching the finishing chute on Alii Drive to thunderous cheers from the crowds….  

For some, this will forever remain a dream, an ‘if only’. But for others, they have the desire to make it a reality. To do whatever it takes to experience what only a small portion of the population will ever get to. You may have been trying for a few years already, or have just had an inkling of ‘maybe, just maybe’, no matter which side you come from, I’ve set out some key areas for you to review and help you understand what it may take for you to secure one of those elusive Kona Qualifying Spots – or even if it is at all possible. So read on if you want to make that dream become reality!   

Find (the right) Coach 

Although there are many athletes who have qualified for Kona without a Coach, if you don’t want to leave things to chance then do your research and find a qualified, understanding and knowledgeable coach. A Coach is an independent sounding board, and can help keep you focused and on track, particularly in the later part of your journey. They will help you not only physically but can be invaluable mentally. So, find one that you really connect with to gain the most from your training and get the most from yourself.  The right Coach can be critical in helping you achieve your goals and finding that extra edge you may be needing – particularly if you have been close to qualifying before. Finding that last 10% of your potential can be far harder than the first 90%, so having a Coaches outside perspective who can delve deeper into your training can be the difference between heading to the Big Island, or spending another year trying.
 

Review your current training (and racing) 

Ask yourself (and your Coach) what you can do better – or different. Start by looking at all aspects of your training and analyse where you can improve. Do you need to work on technique? Overall endurance? Improve bike skills and handling? Be more consistent? Focus more on recovery or reducing stress? Spend more time in the gym? Develop your mental game? Focus on nutrition or injury prevention? There are lots of areas to review, so take the time. Don’t skip over this and just think ‘I’ll train more’. Think about how you can be a smarter more resilient athlete and be measured and focused. Be open and honest with yourself and your Coach. To improve your overall race time or ranking is not just about training more. It’s about being specific, targeted, focused diligent and patient. 

When reviewing your training, keep in mind that every athlete is individual and has different abilities to handle training loads, the number of hours we can dedicate to training, our training history, genetic make up and so much more can all vary widely from athlete to athlete. Therefore it’s important to remember not to compare yourself or your training in too much detail to your fellow competitors or training partners. What it took for one athlete to get to Kona can look vastly different to the next athlete. So focus on yourself.  

Along with reviewing your training, it’s vital to review your racing – not just to see where you can make improvements, but to understand if you are executing your race plan and racing to your potential. Are your race splits and times reflective of your training? Be objective and be critical. Don’t just say ‘oh I blew up on the run, I need to run more’. Really delve deeper to understand the physiology and psychology and why it may have occurred as there can be a vast number of reasons. Did you handle the heat? Did you need heat training? Did you over bike ? Or start out far to hard in the run? Did your mental game let you done? Did you even have a race plan? Having a clear plan going into the day can help ensure you race to your potential, but also help you evaluate post-race if things don’t go to plan. A Coach can really help with this post race analyse and then the subsequent planning.  

Choose the right race 

This shouldn’t be something that is glossed over if you are wanting to qualify for Kona. Choosing the right race for YOU can be the difference between securing a KQ spot or not. If you are serious about qualifying, then don’t just choose a race because it’s more convenient, or your friends are racing, you need to choose a race that not only plays to your strengths but negates your weaknesses, giving you the best chance possible to secure a spot. As an example if you are a strong swim / biker and can handle variable race conditions, choose a hillier more unpredictable course. If hills aren’t your friend, choose a flatter course. Don’t handle heat well? Then don’t race where it’s known to be a hot race. Choosing the right race for you requires next to no additional physical effort to implement. Just some good planning, research and understanding.  

Once you have chosen a few key races, spend the time to examine past results and researching conditions and other factors of the course. To be able to set goals and targets, it’s important to spend the time researching past results and conditions on the courses you are looking at, so you can understand the level of performance that is necessary.  

The second consideration for choosing a race is considering the number of qualifying spots on offer. In some bigger races / regional championship races, spots can be as many at 75, but most now only have 40. In some age groups this means you need to podium, in others, spots may roll down to 5 or more spots. The time of year can also have an impact. Early season races mean athletes haven’t taken up spots yet, so traditionally not as many spots ‘roll down’. The later the season goes, the more chance roll down spots come up. So worth considering the time of the season you race, and/or if you have a back up race in the same season.  

So take the time to choose your race carefully – it’s worth discussing the ins and outs with coaches / others who have more knowledge and understanding than you and can provide information or advice you may not have thought of. Plan wisely! It can pay off.  

Forward Planning 

Planning is key to success. It can come in a variety of forms and levels including your weekly training schedule, your training periods through the year, your racing season and multi-year planning.  

This planning can take place once your review has been completed and races chosen – this way you know what you have got to work with, and the time frames it may take to get there. Once you know where you are right now and where you need to be to qualify, then you can plan out the steps to get there, and the time frame it may take to achieve.  

As much as we all want results now, most of the time we need to be patient and wait for just the right time to strike. If you try and attempt a race too early, you may be hindering your chances, or even pushing back your goals if your body isn’t ready. So again be open and honest with your coach and be willing to ‘wait it out’, if that is what is needed to get you to the level that is required, rather than just shooting from the hip. Evolving as an athlete takes time, sometimes years of dedication and hard work to develop to the level required to qualify. So plan, have patience and be prepared to work hard.  

Self-belief & mental toughness 

This can be the glue that puts it all together and one of the most important ingredients for your Kona Qualifying success. You have to BELIEVE you are capable of qualifying for Kona. If you truly believe that you can qualify then you will act in ways that support that belief. Ironman racing is a mental game. You not only have to believe in yourself, you have to be just as mentally strong as you are physically. You must have a mind like a champion to be able to train like one and have the ability and mental strength to dig deep and hurt when the time counts – both in training and in racing. 

Metal strength and the ability to push through pain barriers is something that can be developed, but it ultimately comes from experience and from passion. So get your mental game as strong as your physical game. Without it, that Kona Qualifying spot may just continue to elude you. If you have reviewed your training and racing and determined this was one of the areas you need to improve, then go in search of someone that can help you. Ask your Coach, fellow athletes, look at who the pros have worked with in the past, or strategies they implement, do your research. It will be an investment well worth making.  

Commitmentconsistency and discipline 

Ultimately, the quest to qualify for Kona (or any goal for that matter) comes with commitment. And that doesn’t just mean saying flippantly “I’d love to qualify for Kona one day” – as that’s not commitment, that’s a merely a wish. BUT if you said to me “I want to do whatever it takes to qualify for Kona in X years” – well now you are talking! 

So once that commitment is made it’s then up to you to focus on the consistency and be disciplined. You must be willing to make choices and sacrifices in the short term in favour of your long-term goals. Although you don’t want to make qualifying your sole priority, as there is far more to life than just triathlon, you still need to put in the work consistently and find ways to make training a priority. There’s no way around that. Whether you have natural athletic ability or not, qualifying for Kona requires a certain volume and training stress that will at times impact other areas of your life. So have discussions with those in your life this may impact and make compromises in certain areas to ensure you are giving yourself maximum opportunity to qualify while still balancing the rest of your life.  

Then ensure you have the dedication and ability to remain consistent in your training – day in, day out. It’s not just how hard and how long you can train for, or just nailing your favourite sessions, it’s about doing the things that you may not want to do, or don’t enjoy, but knowing that they all add up in the big picture and serve a purpose in reaching you goal. In other words, you have to put the work in if you want to get the results. And that takes discipline. There are no shortcuts.  

Do you feel closer to qualifying already?  

Qualifying for Kona is a big goal. Taking your dream and turning it into Ironman reality combines structured and specific training, the right planning, the right race, self belief, mental toughness, true commitment and an incredible desire.  

These concepts certainly aren’t ground breaking but putting it all together is far easier said than done. There are no short cuts. There is no single magic bullet. It’s what you are prepared to do day in day out that will add up in your journey and your quest in securing that Kona Qualifying spot.  

So embrace the journey, if you don’t succeed right away, don’t give up. Stay committed. And don’t stop believing that you can make it happen. Remember to appreciate the little moments, the accomplishments along the way. Be grateful for every experience and appreciate the process that is far more than just about qualifying and Kona itself, but how amazing the human body and the human spirit is. Qualifying may not be easy, but if it was, it wouldn’t be quite so special would it?  

 

Written by Coach Sarah, as previously published in Australian Triathlete Magazine

~ ~ ~~ ~ ~ ~~ ~ ~ ~
Sarah is the Director & Head Coach at Complete Per4mance Coaching. Sarah qualified for the Ironman World Champs in her first Ironman attempt at Ironman Melbourne 2013 (also achieving a podium place in the same race), going on to compete in Kona that same year.

Sarah shares her 10 years of coaching and racing experience, knowledge and education with athletes of all levels to help them achieve their optimal performance while maintaining a balanced, happy and healthy life.

Contact Sarah to discuss training options for you.

 

Are you sabotaging your racing success?

Why would anyone deliberately do that you may ask?
Don’t we all want to improve and get the most out of ourselves? Aren’t we all aiming to be better than we were yesterday? Heck we train every day (often twice a day), so why would we sabotage that? The problem with self-sabotage is athletes often don’t even know they are doing it. It can creep into our everyday lives, into our training and then that flows on into race day and before we know it we are sabotaging our own racing potential and success.  

So what can self-sabotage look like for athletes?
There are some more obvious ways self-sabotage manifests into our lives such as not eating as well as you know you could – even though you know eating better would improve your recovery and/or performance. Or training when injured for fear of losing fitness – even though you know a few days rest is what your body needs. These are classic signs of self-sabotage that can easily be addressed, but on top of these, there are a lot of hidden ways that you can be self-sabotaging without even realising it. Can you relate to any of the following?  

  • You tell yourself that you aren’t a ‘swimmer’, ‘rider’, ‘runner’ 
  • You worry too much about what others think of your performance 
  • Your self-worth is determined by your results and the praise you receive 
  • You tell yourself you aren’t ‘good’ enough 
  • You doubt your ability and don’t believe in yourself 
  • You say to others how you go doesn’t matter to you to avoid disappointment 
  • You feel unrelenting pressure and expectations to achieve 
  • You often say ‘I’m ONLY doing a sprint’, or I’m ‘JUST doing the half’ 

Self-sabotage is like an internal fight that is played out into your training and performances. You want to race well, yet on the start line all your fears come bubbling to the surface and you tell yourself you aren’t ready. You would like to push hard, yet you tell yourself you aren’t good enough. You line up on the start line knowing you have done the training, yet you start doubting your ability and hold back. You put high expectations on yourself, but those expectations bring about anxiety and fear. The internal struggle can be an ongoing battle, and that battle can be hindering your performance and sabotaging your racing success.  

How do we stop this subconscious self-sabotage?
The attitude, beliefs and the mindset that you take with you into training, and ultimately your racing will shape your performance and your success as an athlete. If you are able to shift your mindset, change your attitude and alter your beliefs, then you will minimise the effects of self-sabotage and reach your performance potential.  

The first step is to understand and recognise the signs of how you might be self-sabotaging through areas such as self-doubt, developing anxiety, setting high expectations, the pressures of perfectionism, worrying about what others think and many other mental self-sabotage roadblocks you could be hitting. If we can become aware of these signs and understand when and where they pop up, we can learn to shift them so they don’t negatively impact our racing.  

I have outlined my top 5 areas to help get you started in improving your mental resolve, shifting your mindset and changing your attitude to minimise the effects of self-sabotage on your performance.  

photo credit: witsup.com

1. Reframe your thinking
Our actions are inspired and driven by our thoughts. If we can work on changing the way we think, we can begin to change the actions we take. where the mind goes the body will follow” A practice I’ve used with my athletes is applying the use of positive affirmations or motivational quotes, along with trying to change the way we word our thoughts. Without realising it, we are often using negative affirmations in our everyday lives, and these negative affirmations can then be displayed in negative habits or traits.  Both negative and positive affirmations impact the neurological functioning of the brain, so if you repeatedly think that you are not going to succeed, or you are not good enough, this is a negative affirmation, and your body will subconsciously believe what you repeatedly tell it. But if you work on filling your thoughts with positive affirmations “I’m going to nail this session” – then you are more than likely going to. So the more positive affirmation you can include in your thought patterns, the better!  

Try this:
Instead of thinking: “I can’t”, try “I’m going to give it my best shot
or instead of ‘I’m never going to be good at swimming” try “I’m making progress every day 

So if we can reduce the effects of our limiting beliefs by changing the way you speak to yourself through your thoughts and work on our mental resolve, then we can diminish the effects of self-sabotage and start to have a positive impact on your performance.  

2. Worrying about what others think
For a lot of athletes, a big stressor pre-race is worrying about what others will think of their performance. On one hand, this can be a positive as it can push you harder when a race starts to become tough. It also feels good when you have a great race – who doesn’t like a little pat on the back every now and then! But if you are an athlete who relies on the need to receive praise, feel accepted or liked by others through your performances, then what happens if (when) races don’t go to plan? The sheer thought of a race not going to plan and worrying about what others will think can manifest into race day anxiety. This form of race day anxiety leads to self-doubt and has negative effects on your racing. The opposite to what you had to begin with. So instead of craving the approval of others, work on understanding why it is you race, finding your internal driver –not relying on external motivators from others. This will help reduce the need for approval and improve your race day performance by racing for YOU not for others. 

3. Fear of failure
Goals are big drivers. They are what help you get out of bed in the morning and keep you going when the training gets tough. But how do you feel if you don’t quite reach your goal? Do you consider yourself a failure for not achieving?  Do you punish yourself in some way, or give up totally? We all need goals and we all want to reach them, but don’t be so hard on yourself if you don’t. Worrying too much about results or the outcomes of your races can create unnecessary pre-race anxiety in the form of fear of failure. It is this fear of failure that can lead to athletes underperforming on race day compared to how they train on a daily basis. We probably all know or have trained with athletes who train the house down, but come race day things just don’t come together for them. These athletes are often extremely critical of themselves and could be fearing failure on race day. They’ve put in the hard work in training, everyone is telling them they are going to have a great race, and so they fear what may happen if they don’t. This fear can come from a number of areas including worrying about what others think (see above) and worrying that the hard work they have put into training won’t pay off on race day (the payoff syndrome). If you feel like this is you, then it is important to determine what the underlying fear for you is, so you can learn to overcome it and reduce this form of self-sabotage.

4. Striving for perfection
Striving for perfection for some can be an advantage, these ‘A’ type athletes have incredibly high expectations of themselves and their performance. However at the same time it can actually hinder an athlete’s performance. Because here’s the thing, nothing or no one is truly ever perfect, as much as someone may try. I don’t say that to stop you from striving for and chasing your goals, or be comfortable with settling for ‘middle of the pack’, but at the same time you don’t need to drive yourself into the ground trying to achieve perfection – because it’s never going to happen.  

Why not? You ask. Because if you are one of those athletes who is a true perfectionist, you will never be truly satisfied – no matter how much you excel, or what race results you achieve, you will always be searching. You will also find you forget to take the time to recognise your performance results when you do achieve them and actually acknowledge the hard work you have put in because you will always seem to find the negatives, or find the things that didn’t quite go to plan.  

You may also find if your race isn’t going to your ‘perfect plan’ then this can demotivate you or you can become frustrated with a situation or outcome, losing sight of the process and focusing solely on the end goal – and that’s when things can stat unraveling in a race.  

So chase your goals vigorously, but hold onto them lightly. Continue to aim to improve day in day out, but remember that it is ok if every race isn’t ‘perfect’. Those races that are the ones we learn from the most.  

5. The pressure of expectation
Pressure can manifest itself physically – through increased adrenaline, breathing and heart rate, it can be mental – either positive or negative thoughts, and/or emotional – positive feelings of excitement or anticipation, or negative feelings such as anxiety and fear.   

How an athlete views a particular race in regards to pressure and expectations can often determine how an athlete performs. If you are using expectations to your advantage, you view it as a challenge. However many athletes feel expectation as pressure and therefore a threat and have a negative response or experience as a consequence. So the feeling of pressure manifests into fears of failure. And as soon as an athlete fears failure (the outcome of a race) they are already beginning to worry about meeting their own or others expectations. This causes athletes to focus on an outcome and feeling the pressure to perform, which can turn into pre-race anxiety or incites uncertainty and hesitation. All which can stop an athlete racing to their full potential.  

The good news is, for most age group athletes, the pressure and expectations comes from within, therefore if you created it, you can also dismantle it. Instead of focusing on the end goal or result, break it down and start focusing on the process. When you start to feel pressure or expectations, break it down. Focus on what you need to do in that moment, not what you want to achieve overall. If you have been working hard on your swim technique and your hard work should net a faster time, don’t think about the time, think about the technique. If your aim was to PB on the bike, don’t think about the PB, think about what you need to do in the moment to achieve that such as technique, power or your effort level.  

And ultimately in the end, remind yourself why you started in the sport in the first place. The sport hasn’t changed over the years, it’s still the same as when you started, it is you that has changed. So if you are finding you can’t escape the pressure of expectation, are worrying too much about what others are thinking and fear failure, let it all go and simply go out there and find your fun again!   

 

Written by Coach Sarah, as previously published in Australian Triathlete Magazine

~ ~ ~~ ~ ~ ~~ ~ ~ ~
Sarah is the Director & Head Coach at Complete Per4mance Coaching. Born out of the desire and passion to not just coach but to educate athletes, Sarah shares her 10 years of coaching and racing experience, knowledge and education with athletes of all levels to help them achieve their optimal performance while maintaining a balanced, happy and healthy life.

Contact Sarah to discuss training options for you.

 

 

World Championship Bound! Margaret Mielczarek

There is something about prepping for a World Championship event. The hype, the excitement, and knowing you are putting yourself up against the best in the world at the distance. Our athletes have put in the work, they’ve been dedicated, they have bee tested, but all the while, steely focused – not easy over a Melbourne winter! Follow their stories as they head into their taper before the 70.3 Half Ironman World Championships in South Africa next weekend. 

ATHETE: MARGARET MIELCZAREK

How’d you qualify for the 70.3 World Champs? 

I qualified for 70.3 Worlds at IM 70.3 WA last year – December 2017. I was training for the IM but due to some significant medical issues I had to pull out of that event and I was lucky enough to get a spot to the 70.3 instead. I wasn’t 100% sure if I’d race/participate but decided to check-in and to put my bike and gear into transition the day before – the plan was that I would make my final decision about racing the morning of the race (if I woke up feeling crap I wouldn’t do it and vice versa). Long story short – I ended up taking part and the goal was just to enjoy being out there and appreciate getting to participate while being mindful of my health sitch – I planned to pull out if again, I felt crap.

Anyways… I’m so glad I took part, got through the race and finished. It was the second long course race where I ran the entire run leg (normally I’ll run/walk) and I just felt so happy to be out there. That finish line was one of the best finish lines I’ve ever crossed. It was a massive challenge to get there but that just made it that much sweeter. I’ll never forget crossing that finish line.

After the race a few friends encouraged me to go to roll down, ‘just in case’ – nothing to lose, everything to gain. Basically, the spot rolled down to me and the rest is history! Best. Moment. Ever! I was shaking from excitement! I was that giddy that I forgot how to spell my name when I was filling out the paperwork and signing my life away. Haha.

You’ve had a big season of racing so far since qualifying, accumulating to this A race – the Half Ironman World Champs. How has your season looked up until now?

It’s been the biggest season of my tri “career” (and I’ve been in the sport for over eight years now!). I have loved every minute. My goal this year was to stay consistent, to try new things and to have fun – to enjoy the process and the training. And TICK! It’s been tough but I’ve loved it. Races I’ve done this year include:

  • A crit race (I think I was in Z grade or something haha) – I came first… first time ever on the top step of a podium !
  • Challenge Melbourne – my breakthrough race, where it all came together
  • IM 70.3 Cairns – oh man, that race! It didn’t go to plan but a lot of lessons were learnt
  • Gold Coast half marathon – achieved a massive PB here!

(Is that it? LOL … there has been a lot of racing going on)

One of your first key races was Challenge Melbourne earlier in the year where you had a break through race. How are you feeling leading into the Worlds compared to leading into Challenge?

I’m tired… haha jokes! I’m not really sure what to expect with worlds so I’m not really sure how to feel yet. Mostly I’m super excited about traveling to South Africa (how amazing is that!) and I’m excited about take part in something so big. I’m not really nervous yet because I really don’t have any expectations as it’s my first worlds. I just want to go out there and enjoy it. Oh and secretly, I’d love to nail that run. If I can do that I’ll be happy. What I learnt from Challenge though, is that I need a lot of ‘me’ time/alone time leading into a race. I’m much better when I don’t get sucked into the hype or too much of the social scene. So that’s what I’m going to try to do at worlds – just focus on me and what I have to do, especially 1-2 days leading out from the event. And then come race day it’ll be – blinkers on!

I’d have to agree with you here Margs, I remember walking past you the morning of Challenge and you literally looked straight through me and kept walking! haha. 

What has been the biggest challenge during this prep for the worlds?

As far as training goes the biggest initial challenge was working out how I was going to fit training in around a massive commute to/from work, along with work itself. But once I got into a groove that worked for me, things have been great and I’ve been more consistent then ever. Also swimming! Ah, bless! My least favourite part of triathlon. I qualified in Busso where they had cancelled the swim (as soon as it was cancelled I was all like: GAME. ON! Haha) so I knew I had a massive training curve to get my swimming up to scratch. I’ve been swimming with a squad (thanks Fluid Movements for having me), which has been so great and exactly the kick up the butt I needed. While I’ll never be an Olympic swimmer (you know, a coach once said that to me haha – oh, what! Are you for real? And here I was thinking… haha) I feel better/stronger in the water so hopefully I won’t come out last and/or get eaten by a shark (eep!).

On a personal level, the biggest challenge was my grandma passing away. She had cancer and passed away earlier this year (before Cairns). She was my number one fan and was so excited when I told her about qualifying for worlds. Sadly, she won’t be here to hear all about my trip when I get back but I’ll be racing for her, in her memory.

Have you had any breakthrough moments in training?

I started seeing breakthrough moments in training at around March/April. All of a sudden I was running faster then I’d ever run before – I remember one run off the bike in Torquay I was running <4min/km pace and was like: “OMG! Where did that come from?” Albeit I wasn’t able to maintain that pace for very long but it was a glimmer of where things were starting to head.

You have come leaps and bounds in the past 6-12 months, and it has totally come down to your consistency, trusting the process and your mindset. So now you get the reap the rewards! 🙂 

So tell us – whats your driver? What is the fire in your belly that gets you out of bed in the morning?

I want to be the best version of myself – I want to see how far I can go and what I have in me. Also, I love training (maybe more than I love racing) so it doesn’t take me much to get out there, especially if the weather is nice.

Also, escaping traffic by getting to a training session early (e.g. Swimming) – escaping traffic is definitely a driver! Haha

Oh and sharks! I have this irrational fear about sharks… so the driver to improve my swimming has been being able to keep up with the rest of the field on race day, so that I’m not left alone out the back as shark bait!

(What ever motivates you margs! 😉 haha)

What are you most looking forward to in racing this event – the World Champs!

Probably the atmosphere – I imagine that will be pretty epic. Also, I’m looking forward to the race being split into genders – females race one day, men the next. I’m looking forward to experiencing what that’s like and then to cheering on the guys the next day 🙂 Also, aside from the race I’m super excited about going on a safari and experiencing everything South Africa has to offer. Cannot wait!

It’s going to be an amazing experience for you that’s for sure! 

And one question I always like to ask – what will be next for Margs after this big goal is ticked off?  A break? A new goal? Something different? Fill us in…

Well, there was this one night a few weeks ago when I couldn’t sleep. But instead of just shopping for clothes online or something like a normal person, I decided to sign up for the Melbourne Marathon in October (eep!). So there is that, as a start. I’m keen to focus on my running for a bit. I’d like to see where I can take it and how fast over the half and full marathon distance I can get. But let’s be honest, once the weather warms up I’ll probably be all like: “Sign me up to another tri, baby! I’m in!” Haha! Stay tuned…

Love your work and your attitude Margs! And we can’t wait to follow you on race day!

Visit here for more race details