The winning mentality

“I wasn’t the strongest physically out there. But what I did have was self belief, and I had absolutely nothing to lose. ”

I love racing. I love the pre-race nerves, that feeling of hesitation in the pit of your stomach, the nervous energy that wants to explode out of you. Others may dread that feeling, but I thrive off it. I love preparing for a race, the energy at the venue, the feelings of anxiousness, the fear of the unknown. I don’t get that feeling from anything else, so I look forward to it.

As it nears 12 months since my last race pre-baby, surprisingly I actually hadn’t missed that feeling though. People would ask me if I missed racing, and I was honest and said I didn’t. I was simply enjoying being able to train to stay fit and healthy and in providing the best possible environment for my growing bump. – and that was my purpose. So I trained and that feeling it gave me afterwards was what I thrived off. That was my ‘high’.

But 3 months post baby (where has that time gone?!) and that feeling wasn’t quite enough anymore. There was a ‘feeling’ that was missing and it started to gnaw away at me. Something was subtly telling me that it was time. I was ready to get those feelings back that no amount of training can replicate.

And that was when I knew I was ready. I haven’t been training specifically to race, I have barely been on the road, I’m definitely not as fit and strong as I have been in the past, I’ve lost top end speed, I’ve lost my endurance, but what I haven’t lost is my drive and my ability to push my body beyond it’s limits.  I’m was no where near race ready, and nor do I want to be at this stage, but I was ready to get back out there, have some fun and see what my body was capable of and I was ready to get those race nerves back!

So as I lined up on the start line of a Crit race on the weekend. I was nervous. ‘I feel like i’m doing my first ever race!‘ I told a friend on the start line. And that was my reminder why I train.  I was born competitive. And this was where I belonged.

For those who have raced criteriums before, you know it can be a bit of cat and mouse game. It’s not necessarily who is the strongest rider, but who can play it smart, use tactics to put themselves in the best position to cross the line first. Sitting in as much as possible and saving energy until the last part of the race and the all important finish line sprint.  But the ‘triathlete’ comes out in me and I’ve never been able to race like that. I race smart, but I race hard. But if it was going to be hard for me, I was going to make it hard for others too. So despite not being race fit (I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve ridden on the road in the past 6 months), I wasn’t going to stop me having a crack.

As the race went on, the cat and mouse game continued, but I was able to work out who was willing to work and who wasn’t. I knew my legs were able to work for short efforts, but anything longer and the lactic threshold started to build and my body wasn’t able to sustain it. At the same time, I’m not a sprinter, so I knew I didn’t want to be rounding the last lap with the sprinters and having to battle it out for a sprint finish. So I had cracks off the front, I chased others down. I worked hard. I didn’t want it to just be an easy race with a finish line sprint.

So as we neared the end of the race, a couple of laps out from the finish and one rider went and in that moment I thought she was going to win off the front. But I wasn’t ready to give up just yet and a few of us chased and we gradually bridged the gap. As we rounded into the last lap I didn’t feel like I was the strongest, but I said to myself right then that I wasn’t going to listen to my legs, I was going to give everything from the last corner and I started to mentally picture the finish line.

So as we rounded the last corner I dug as deep as I could. I was third wheel but I could feel my momentum building, it was going to be very close. ‘I can’t loose this now‘ I said to myself. My legs and my lungs were screaming at me, and it could have been easy for me to ‘settle’ for second or third – heck I’d just given birth to my baby boy 3 months ago! But I wasn’t willing to settle. So I drove my bike out of the saddle right to the finish line just pipping the other two girls in a tight photo finish.  (not the most glamorous photo, but it definitely sums my race up!) 😉

But I don’t believe I won this race because I was physically the strongest. I won this race mentally. I wasn’t willing to settle for not giving my everything.

Where some athletes miss that winning mentality is by settling. It can be easy to be content and say ‘I’m happy with 2nd, but the question is – are you really? Or are you just settling? Did you allow yourself to settle for second? Or did you actually give every ounce trying to reach first? If you didn’t, why not? What was it that you weren’t prepared to do? Were you not prepared to push that hard? Or was that person out front just that much better than you on the day? You need to be able to answer these questions and be honest with your answers so you can reach your true potential.

So don’t allow yourself to settle. When you think you are done, convince yourself that you have just that little bit more. Break it down. “to the next tree’, ‘pass the next person’, ‘just 5 more minutes of hurt’, whatever your ‘cues’ are use them. And if they aren’t working use something else. It’s a mind game out there. Not just a physical game.

Of course there will nearly always be stronger athletes – that’s the beauty of racing and that’s what helps drives us too. Other days you may just not feel 100% either, a little flat/off, or the legs just didn’t come to play – and that’s ok, as long as you can determine why and as long as you still give 100% on that day.

Something I took away from my time spent last year watching and learning from National Performance Centre Triathlon Head Coach Dan Atkins were some words of wisdom he shared with us: ‘All I ask is for my athletes to give me 100% of whatever they have on that day”.  Re-read that sentence. All Dan asks of his athletes is to give 100% of whatever they have. So even if you only have 80% on the day, as long as you give 100% of that 80%, that’s all that can be asked of you. So don’t settle.

So much of racing is a mental game – not just a physical one. I don’t believe I was the strongest physically out there racing on the weekend. But what I did have was self-belief and a strong mental game. My purpose for the race was to test my mental strength against my physical strength. The end result? A win in my first race back since having my bubs 3 months ago.

This race I can say my mental strength was stronger than my physical one. What I can’t wait for is  when they both line up again on the start line together as strong as each other…..


Key take aways? 

– Give everything you have on the day, regardless of how you feel.
– Train yourself mentally, not just physically
– Self belief goes a long way to reaching your potential
– Visualise how you want your race to look – a powerful tool to use.
– Be willing to push the line to find where the edge lies.
– Don’t be afraid of the pre-race nerves, use them to your advantage
– Use mental cues/ positive mantras for when a race gets tough
– Don’t settle. Always strive for more. Always.

~ ~ ~ ~

If you would like me to help you improve both your physical and mental performance, contact me for a chat no matter your level or goals. 

Pictures courtesy of Mich Adventures and StKilda Cycling Club

Embracing change

Life can bring a lot of changes. In one instance your life is on one trajectory and then something comes up and changes that, and all of a sudden you find yourself in another direction. You may not have envisaged it, but I honestly believe that things in life happen for a reason. So dwelling on what should have been, could have been or would have been I feel, is wasting time and energy. So focusing on the NOW and what opportunities lie ahead – is what is most important.

Myself and my partner had talked about having kids – him more so than me! 😉 Children were on the cards and a part of our future planning, I just didn’t know when I’d be ready for them,  as I couldn’t picture a little human in my life just yet. I had just got back into competitive racing again and our coaching business was starting to thrive. But fast forward in time and all of a sudden I discover I’m growing a little mini me! Wow. It may not have been when I planned, but I knew instantly that it was meant to be. And in that instance, my life trajectory changed.

And now with a 3 month old that demands my attention at any hour of the day or night, I wouldn’t have it any other way. My life has definitely changed since he came into our world. He’s made me become more patient and understanding, he has forced me to slow down, yet I always feel busy.  Simply being able to head out for a run requires planning. To be able to get out on the bike I have found even harder, and swimming hasn’t even happened yet! 😉 On the work front I’ve been working when it suits him. Not me. There have definitely been lots of changes to navigate, and a new way of living to learn. But I have been loving the changes and the challenges!

For the mums out there I have always had respect for you, and now I can 100% relate. 🙂 It’s a big job – one that we will have for the rest of our lives.

All these changes in my personal life, ultimately brought about changes in my professional life too. The time allowed me to explore new challenges and redefine what I want from my career as a coach and my focus as an athlete all while juggling being a new mum.

And so with that, I recently made the decision that it was my time to leave Holistic Endurance and embark on a new challenge.  I hadn’t planned for it to happen, but as I said, changes happen and so it’s about embracing that change and making the most of where it can take you.

I have spent the last 3 years with my business partner Katee building up a business from just a handful of athletes to now a thriving and well known brand in the triathlon community. What Katee and I have been able to achieve in just 3 years has been a testament to our hard work and a credit to the athletes who have been open and willing to learn and share the journey with us. Sharing our own personal stories, coaching and educating athletes in all areas of training, racing, health and wellness has meant we have been able to make an impact on so many athletes lives. So a big thank you to Katee for allowing me to share the journey with her for the past 3 years. We’ve only just started touching the surface of making a change in our industry and there’s a long way still to go, but we can feel the shift happening and it’s exciting!

For me, my message has always been about balancing life with training, all while chasing your goals. And I truly believe they can co-exist and you can achieve this if you get the mix right. It does however take a specific type of coach to be able to do this and have the ability to get that balance just right. It’s easy to just prescribe more and more training, but get the balance right and the results are amazing!

As scary as change can be, I’m excited about the change, and bringing to life Complete Per4mance Coaching .  This will allow another means for athletes to find their triathlon/life balance and allow me to continue to influence athletes in our industry while explore my own coaching philosophy – all while being the best coach, mum, girlfriend, friend and athlete I can be!

What is Complete Per4mance Coaching?

Complete Per4mance Coaching is triathlon, cycling and running coaching for athletes seeking a performance edge. My coaching is born out of the desire and passion to not just coach but to educate athletes of all levels to help them achieve their optimal performance while maintaining a balanced, happy and healthy life.

Every athlete is individual, therefore I provide programs written and designed specifically based on each athletes goals, time commitment, training level and ‘life’ in general. Delivered through training peaks, each athlete receives a truly personal coaching service dedicated to improving YOUR results, while providing a pricing structure that helps allow every athlete receive the coaching that they deserve.

Contact me to discuss your training and coaching options.